I am a big proponent of obtaining the majority of our nutrients from foods, because they contain a synergistic combination of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals – which generally enhance the absorption and utilization by the body. But there are a number of reasons that we might not be getting all of the nutrients that we need on a daily basis – leading to nutrient deficiencies.
There may or may not be symptoms at all, but nutrient deficiencies can show up in many different ways – ranging from fatigue, weight gain, migraine headaches, neurological symptoms (like tingling and numbness), skin issues (like dry skin, chicken skin or rashes); focus or memory issues, mental health issues like depression, lowered immunity, elevated homeocystene, and much more. When a symptom arises from a nutrient deficiency, taking a supplement to correct it makes sense.
If you do decide to supplement, you might still have questions – which nutrients do I need, and how much should I take? If you want to know exactly what nutrients you are deficient in, in order to more effectively target your supplementation – consider getting the SpectraCell Micronutrient test – which tests white blood cells to measure the functional levels of 35 nutritional components including vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and amino acids.
Some supplements we might use for a short period to support the body to recover from a particular issue (such as during cold and flu season – read 8 Natural Colds and Flu Prevention Tips), or if we are dealing with an issue like adrenal fatigue, digestion trouble, etc). Other supplements we will want to take daily/long-term to support general overall health and prevent deficienices, disease and illness. Below are 5 supplements that pretty much everyone can benefit from.
Referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D is not really a vitamin, but a fat-soluble pre-hormone that in synthesized from exposing the skin to the sun. Not surprisingly after years of slathering on the sunscreen – many Americans are now low in vitamin D levels. A study published in 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that 70% – 97% of Americans have insufficient blood levels of Vitamin D.
Magnesium is another nutrient that could save your life – literally! In emergency rooms they give magnesium to people who have suffered a heart attack, because studies have shown that IV magnesium after a heart attack offers protection to the heart muscle and could lower the risk of dying from a heart event.
It is estimated that over 70% of the population is deficient in magnesium which is required for over 300 enzymatic reactions, including the synthesis of fat, protein and nucleic acids, muscular contraction and relaxation, nerve health, bone building, and heart health. Magnesium improves blood flow and plays a key role in serotonin production, protein building, and the metabolism of adenosine triphoshate (ATP). Magnesium helps rid the body of toxins and acid residues, and is also needed for the synthesis of vitamin D and absorption of calcium.
One of the most important minerals for our heart health, magnesium is also emerging as an important mineral for cancer prevention. A study from Sweden reported that women with the highest magnesium intake had a 40% lower risk of developing cancer than those with the lowest intake of the mineral.
Heavy alcohol consumption depletes magnesium, which could be one reason that drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day raises our risk of breast cancer. About two thirds of all magnesium in our body is found in our bones.
Magnesium has been found in studies to stimulate the release of adiponectin, which is known as a “fat-burning hormone.” So low levels of magnesium could be causing us to hang on to fat longer! Magnesium has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, another important factor in a healthy metabolism. Low magnesium levels can lead to muscle cramping, migraine headaches, and could even be a factor in a sluggish metabolism. Learn more about how magnesium deficiency could be harming your health: Magnesium: An Invisible Deficiency That Could Be Harming Your Health
Food sources of magnesium include leafy greens, seeds (like pumpkin), avocado, broccoli, and beans. But perhaps the best (and most delicious) way to get magnesium is from raw cacao – the main ingredient in dark chocolate, or try these yummy almond butter cups.
If supplementing, look for citrate, malate, orotate, glycinate (avoid oxide form, which is poorly aborbed and more of a laxative). Too determine the right amount of magnesium for you, read this article by The Magnesium Miracle author, Dr. Carolyn Dean: Magnesium Burn Rate & Dosage.
Two kinds of polyunsaturated fats – the omegas – are called “essential” because the body can not make them, so they must be obtained from the diet. Having the right balance of essential fatty acids is important in preventing inflammation. Ideally we should be getting around a 1:3 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats in our diets. But because most processed foods are made with cheap soy, cottonseed or vegetable oils; which are high in omega 6s, most people today are getting closer to 1:20 ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s. Omega 6’s promote inflammation – so diets high in omega 6s set us up for chronic and systemic inflammation. Omega 3s reduce inflammation in the body, which is very important for disease prevention. One common sign that you could be deficient in omega 3 fats is having raised bumps, sometimes called “chicken skin,” on the backs of your arms.
Omega 3 fats are important for healthy brain function, to support a balanced mood, for heart health, and have even been studied by the US Military to be effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. Omega 3s are found in fatty fish, some nuts, chia seeds, hemp hearts, and also in grass fed meats, and pastured chicken eggs. You can supplement with a high quality fish oil. And I like to take chia seeds every day too, which are high in ALA omegas. This article can help guide you on choosing a high quality fish oil. (note: high doses of fish oil can thin the blood, so they should be stopped a few weeks before any surgery, and consult a doctor if on medication). A recent study found that very high amounts of fish oil were linked to an increased risk for prostate cancer – but the design & conclusions of that study have come into question. There is a lot of research showing that omega 3s reduce cancer risk, including breast cancer.
Humans have trillions of bacteria in our bodies, in fact we are made up of 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells, so technically we are more bacterial than human! Bacteria live in our digestive system, our skin, and mucus membranes – our bodies are literally teeming with them. There are between 500 and 1000 different types of bacteria in our guts alone! Bacteria play an extremely important role in our metabolism, digestive and immune system health. Perhaps even more than we currently realize.
When it comes to bacteria, it is all about balance. Research shows that ideally we should have 20 times more beneficial bacteria than the unhealthy kind to maintain a healthy immune and digestive system. A balanced inner ecosystem is very important for digestion, immunity, mood, and even has an impact on your weight. There is even some very good research suggesting that it could be a player in the fight against heart disease and diabetes.
You can get good bacteria from fermented foods like sauerkraut, kim chee, kombucha tea, and yogurt. But most people do not get enough fermented foods, so I recommend that most people takes a high quality probiotic supplement to make sure to keep the good bacteria outnumbering the bad. Some people may not tolerate probiotics well – such as those with an overgrowth of bacteria in their gut (SIBO). Talk to your doctor if you have concerns or questions.
One of my favorite probiotics is called Digestive Defense – because it is shelf stable (does not need refrigeration), gets past the stomach acid to where it needs to go, and is a strain that is generally well tolerated by most people.
The B vitamins are critical for a healthy metabolism and are needed in order to convert our food into energy. Often referred to as the stress vitamins, the B vitamins are water soluble, so they are not stored in the body for long, and stress causes us to excrete them more. B vitamins are important for energy, mood, sleep, nerve function, detoxification, digestion, heart health, and more. Here are some of the key ones:
Don’t like to take a lot of different pills? This O.N.E. Multivitamin from Pure Prescriptions – delivers in 1 dose high quality B vitamins, vitamin D, and a wide range of other important nutrients to support health, prevent disease, and more (note: this multi is designed for ages 18 and up and does not contain magnesium or calcium – so consider supplementing those separately.)
Below are some other common nutrients that certain people might want to consider supplementing:
Although we should obtain the majority of our nutrients from foods, most people can benefit from high quality supplements. But you also want to be careful to not overdo it – more is not always better when it comes to supplements – especially because some can accumulate in the body – like the fat soluble vitamins, or iron.
When supplementing, I always caution people against buying the cheapest option, or ‘whatever is on sale.’ When it comes to supplements – you get what you pay for – and quality is absolutely key. Poor quality supplements tend to be poorly absorbed, and worse – they might even do harm. For example, cheap calcium supplements that do not contain the key co-factors for absorption into the bone, can cause the calcium to migrate to where it should not go, potentially causing calcifications of the arteries, and an increased risk of heart disease. Read: Dietary Supplements, Quality is Key.
If you do choose to supplement, realize that supplements alone can’t replace a healthy diet, that is what they are called supplements! Find high quality supplements from Pure RX here.
Before starting new supplements, those taking prescription medications or who have an existing health condition should consult with their doctor first to make sure there are no interactions or contraindications.
Want to learn more about how to choose high quality supplements that can support your health and treat health conditions? Attend the Medicinal Supplements Summit! Free online Setp 12-19, 2016.
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
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