Deficiencies and the benefits of supplementation.
trying to find out what supplements will best suit us can be tough. There are hundreds of thousands of different supplements out there now, it can be hard to figure out which ones will benefit you as an individual. All supplements have a different role and often times are used when we as humans are deficient in a certain area. Nutrient deficiencies are common among many members of the U.S. population. Rich, poor, young, and old, 92 percent of the population is suffering from at least one mineral or vitamin deficiency. The entire country is overfed and undernourished. Even if you consume a “perfect” diet, the odds are, something is missing.
It is a well-known that processed junk and fast foods have become staples in the American diet. Fresh, nutrient-rich foods are often considered difficult to buy consistently due to time and finances, deeming these food choices a luxury rather than the standard at dinner tables throughout the country.
Furthermore, multiple studies, dating as far back as 1936, have found that the soil of farmland across the globe is deficient in micronutrients, lowering their content in produce. In 2003, Canadian researchers compared the data of current vegetable nutrient content to data from 50 years ago. Their findings showed that the mineral content of cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes had depleted from 400 milligrams to less than 50 milligrams throughout the twentieth century. And, that’s just a sampling of what they found.
The fact is, even if processed junk food and fast food were not a part of the food supply, deficiencies would still be rampant, as soil quality is diminishing at a rapid rate and reducing the nutrient value of produce.
The numbers don’t lie. According the CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):
- 9 out of 10 Americans are deficient in potassium
- 7 out of 10 are deficient in calcium
- 8 out of 10 are deficient in vitamin E
- 50 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium
- More 50 percent of the general population is vitamin D deficient, regardless of age
- 90 percent of Americans of color are vitamin D deficient
- Approximately 70 percent of elderly Americans are vitamin D deficient
How can we fix this?
Quality supplements can help you restore and maintain your micronutrient levels for optimal health. Whether you are a top athlete or someone seeking wellness, your diet needs to be supported to reach your health goals. Keep in mind, supplements do not work on their own, they’re supplements, they supplement our daily habits and diet. Maintaining a healthy diet is always highly recommended first and foremost. Just like our diets need supported by supplementation, supplementation needs supported by a healthy diet and lifestyle.
What supplements should we take?
There are a lot of nutrients that work together to allow the body to function optimally. So, how do you know which ones you need to be healthy and well?
Nutrient needs are as personal as your taste in music and clothing. That is why you should work with an experienced physician to get your nutrient levels tested for vitamin deficiency and maintain monitoring, as your needs change throughout your life. Through specialized testing, your physician can help you identify the nutrients you are most deficient in and design a supplement regimen to meet your needs.
Of course, there are some nutrients, like vitamin D and K2, in which most Americans are deficient and getting enough in the diet is nearly impossible. Get a jumpstart on repairing your nutrient deficiencies, these are top supplements that benefit the most individuals:
Vitamin D - the vitamin that functions like a hormone inside the body, meaning that much like your other hormones, it has a lot of really important roles to fill in keeping you healthy. Although vitamin D levels can be improved with daily sun exposure (on clear, sunny days), as well as consumption of cod liver oil, fortified dairy products, oysters, and eggs, supplementation is still necessary. Adequate levels of vitamin D are linked to mood, metabolism, and bone health, to name a few. Studies have shown that supplementing 800 IUs daily can reduce the risk of diseases associated with poor bone health.
Vitamin K2 - Vitamin K is rapidly emerging as a superior micronutrient for achieving optimal health. For years, vitamin K2 has been well-known for its role in blood clotting factors, but scientists now understand it has more benefits, including protection against heart disease, formation of strong bones and promoting healthy skin, brain function, growth and development, as well as helping to prevent certain forms of cancer. Much like vitamin D, K2 can be sourced from the diet through grass-fed meat, such as lamb, liver and dark meat turkey. However, supplementation ensures absorption and sufficient intake (never take Vitamin D without Vitamin K, and vise versa)
Magnesium - From regulating blood sugar levels to boosting athletic performance, magnesium is crucial for your brain and body.
Magnesium helps move blood sugar into your muscles and dispose of lactate, which can build up during exercise and cause fatigue. Magnesium also plays a critical role in brain function and mood, low levels are linked to an increased risk of depression. Magnesium may also improve blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes. It’s been shown to help lower blood pressure levels and reduce several risk factors for heart disease. If that’s not enough, its shown to lower inflammation by reducing markers such as CRP and interleukin-6. For my women readers, one study found that taking 250 mg of magnesium per day helped decrease bloating, depression, and anxiety in 126 women with PMS compared to a control group. Magnesium comes with many other great benefits including bone strength, better sleep and lowered anxiety.