There are many reasons you may not be getting everything you need from your food. Below we briefly describe how environmental stressors, depleted soils, and psychological stress can increase your need for certain nutrients.
Multi-Vitamin/Multi-Mineral - Supplements are called "supplements" for a good reason - they can't replace a balanced diet. However, they have become increasingly important as our food production practices deplete nutrients from the soil. Additionally, psychological stress and environmental stressors like air, water and food pollution all require high amounts of nutrients to process, detoxify and eliminate.
All this encourages us to recommend a multi-vitamin/multi-mineral to most of our patients. A multi supplement helps to balance out nutrient needs where either intake or access is insufficient, and also helps to shore up insufficiencies. Multis are especially important additions to wellness foundation plans around times when the body needs extra nutrition, including recovery from illness or surgery, postpartum and while nursing, and during times of high emotional stress.
Vitamin D3 with A and K2: Multivitamins rarely provide adequate levels of our fat-soluble vitamins which include vitamin A, D, E and K. Vitamin D is made when our skin is exposed to sunlight. When you live in northern latitudes or have darker skin pigment it’s challenging to make enough. We recommend testing your vitamin D levels to establish your baseline levels and guide proper dosing. It’s important to balance your vitamin D intake with the other fat-soluble vitamins, especially vitamin K. Vitamin D raises our blood level of calcium and vitamin K puts that calcium into our bones. Click here for a more detailed article on the importance of vitamin D.
B Complex with Methylated Bs: B vitamins are quickly depleted by stress. For some individuals a multi-vitamin/multi-mineral doesn’t cut it and adding a B complex is the extra support they need. We recommend using methylated vitamins which means they are in the most active and available forms for your body to utilize.
Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids: Vitamin C is probably best known as being supportive for our immune systems which is true but the reason we consider this a foundational supplement is actually it’s support for our stress response system. Just 1 gram of vitamin C daily can significantly reduce cortisol secretion and blood pressure elevation during an acute stressor. We prefer to use vitamin C that contains bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are phytochemical found in most of the foods that are high in vitamin C and can actually enhance the action of the vitamin.
Electrolytes: We talk about sweating a lot! Regular sweating is a major way that we detoxify our bodies. If regular sauna use is part of a therapeutic plan, we add electrolytes to replace what is lost with chronic sweating. This is particularly important for folks who find they commonly experience muscle twitching. Dr. Barrett utilizes electrolytes a few times per week and finds it improves her energy and hydration.
Magnesium is a mineral that should be easy to find in foods. Whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are all good sources of magnesium. That said, the herbicides and pesticides regularly used in food production actually encapsulate magnesium and other minerals, preventing it from being taken up by the food crop. This means that even if you are eating plenty of these foods, you may still not be getting adequate magnesium.
Magnesium is used by the body to do a number of things: build strong bones, contract and relax muscles (including smooth muscles in the cardiovascular and digestive systems), balance blood sugar, hormones and mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters. There are many different forms in which you can find magnesium in supplements. Our favorite is magnesium glycinate, because it is easily absorbed, has a calming effect on the nervous system via the addition of the amino acid, glycine, and it's affordable.
Omega-3 Fats: Omega-3 fats come in 3 different forms alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found in plant sources, including flax and walnuts. EPA and DHA are found in animal sources, especially cold-water fatty fish, like salmon, sardines and herring. ALA is converted in the body to EPA and DHA, the bioactive forms of the fatty acids. This is not an efficient 1-for-1 conversion, so getting ample EPA and DHA in the diet or supplement plan is important. These fatty acids play key roles in skin, joint, cardiovascular, immune and mental health.
Probiotics: The impact of the microbiome on health is still being uncovered, but it is clear that the commensal bacteria and yeast that live in and on the human body interact intimately with multiple body systems. The largest colony of these microorganisms is in the large intestine and is constantly changing in response to the ecosystem of the organ. Probiotics play a supportive role in introducing and maintaining specific strains of lactobacillus, bifidobacteria and other microorganisms to that ecosystem. Which probiotic product is recommended may be specific to species and strains, and depend on the health effects your practitioner wants to obtain.
To get your wellness foundation laid with some of Dr. Barrett and Jesse's favorite supplement recommendations, go here.
Vitamin C: Stress buster
Dr. Sara Jean Barrett and Jesse Haas, CNS, LN are founders of Wellness Minneapolis. They both share their passion for holistic, sustainable lifestyles through their one-on-one services and group wellness programs. Follow @wellnessmpls and @jessehaasnutrition on Instagram for tips on making wellness a daily, doable action in your life.