“If I eat a healthy diet, why do I need to take supplements?” is one of the most common questions I’m asked.
The sad truth is that our globalized year-round produce in the grocery store contains very little of the vitamins and minerals that our grandparents enjoyed. Fruits and vegetables make their vitamins from healthy fertile soil but with genetic modifications, artificial fertilizers and added chemicals our soils have become depleted of the nutrients needed to give to the plants. Also many fruits and vegetables are picked early and then shipped around the world. If picked before they are ripe there is not enough time for the plants to reach the full vitamin and mineral potential.
A landmark study on the topic by a team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. These results do not mean we should stop eating fruits and vegetables altogether, but we have to do the best we can by buying organic and locally grown vegetables whenever possible. And for everything else I think we can benefit from supplements.
Do we need to take a lot of supplements? Sometimes when I start working with a client they are so nutritionally depleted that we start with many vitamins and minerals to support the body but, over time, we can reduce to a few select foundational supplements to help keep the immune system strong and the body functioning at its best. Below are what I consider to be the core foundational supplements.
No other vitamin comes close to matching vitamin D when it comes to its influence on our health. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, it acts more like a hormone than a vitamin by regulating hundreds of pathways in the body. Vitamin D is a multi-tasker, with vital functions relating to bone health, immune function and brain health. Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is synthesized by your body when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. It is almost impossible to get enough vitamin D from food alone, and unless you live in a very sunny place (like near the equator) and are outside in a swimsuit frequently without sunscreen, you are deficient.
Methylated B vitamins:
B vitamins are the fuel behind methylation, a biochemical process that happens more than 1 billion times every single second inside your body. It helps keep you alive and healthy by assisting your body’s ability to properly detox. There are so many different types of B vitamins, so it’s important to get a well-rounded amount of each. The best B-vitamin supplement would be a B-complex vitamin containing activated (methylated) B vitamins.
These important fats improve insulin sensitivity, lower cholesterol by lowering triglycerides and raising HDL, reduce inflammation, prevent blood clots and lower the risk of heart attacks. Your brain itself is about 60 percent fat, so depriving your body of fat can contribute to all kinds of unpleasant brain symptoms, from brain fog and fatigue to depression and anxiety. In other words, healthy fat is essential for optimal brain health. If you’re not getting enough healthy fats, specifically from wild-caught seafood, you will want to consider a high quality omega-3 fish oil supplement.
The role of vitamin C in supporting the immune system has been known for a long time. Vitamin C is indispensable to our structural integrity, energy levels and even our ability to handle stress. This amazing nutrient even affects how we express our genes. We cannot survive without vitamin C and we most certainly cannot thrive without reaching daily optimal levels.
Magnesium is a crucial mineral needed for over 300 essential biochemical reactions in your body, including the regulation of neurotransmitters. Up to 80 percent of the population is deficient in this nutrient, and that deficiency can show up as problems with sleep, anxiety, migraines, and brain fog, muscle cramps and constipation. If you have one or more of these symptoms you may have a magnesium deficiency. Most deficiencies come from a poor diet or gut problems that interfere with magnesium absorption. There are many different forms of magnesium but several of my favorites are: magnesium citrate, especially if you tend to get constipated, magnesium glycinate, excellent for its calming effects, and magnesium threonate, that has shown promise for its neurological support.
In general, how long does it take to see improvements from supplementation? In my experience one can expect to notice a difference anywhere between one day and eight weeks. It all depends on how deficient you were before. If you still aren’t seeing improvements after that time frame, it’s time to seek out a practitioner who can help you determine the best option for your specific health situation.
Contact me at http://www.vitalynn.com to learn what quantity and frequency of dosing of these foundational supplements are ideal for you to attain optimal health.
The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
By Lynn Wood, Founder & Owner of VitaLynn, a Family Nurse Practitioner, focused on holistic healthcare and wellness programs. Lynn Wood’s can be contacted at www.vitalynn.com