It seems, to me, that because people pay a lot of money for cars, but our bodies are given to us for free, people generally do not place the same value on pro-active health care as to the care of their automobile. We all know that packaged foods have all manner of additives, dyes, GMO’s and other substances that are not beneficial to our liver, kidneys, immune systems… yet that seems little to deter the average consumer from buying these things. What if the equivalent manner of junk were in gasoline ready to clog pumps and engines—people would not stand for it!
Let’s lay a couple ground rules first:
1. Supplements are just that, they are add-ons to a diet that emphasizes:
a. Proper Nutrition. This encompasses much more than just feeding yourself to meet your caloric needs or eating from the food pyramid. Your digestive system must have the enzymes and acids it need to digest food properly and fully absorb macro and micro nutrients. A huge topic these days are food sensitivities, lectins, phytochemicals, and avoidance of foods that compromise the integrity of the gut
b. Exercise. Gotta move our bodies to be healthy, excuses don’t create health.
c. Stress reduction and Mindfulness
d. Other Lifestyle modifications as needed.
Supplements cannot make up for neglect in the above areas. Making a habit of nourishing and taking care of one’s self is primary. Supplements are used to fill deficiencies, bolster genetic weaknesses, and support the healthy dietary and lifestyle we make.
2. Not all supplements are worth buying or ingesting; they are definitely not created equal.
Education and research is important as this is a hugely profitable industry and unfortunately when profit is to be gained ethics are sometimes disregarded by parties looking for maximum gain.
My values are to support companies that guarantee their products are sustainably harvested from the wild or grown organically. Companies that have mad a commitment to non-GMO ingredients also are important to me as there are a lot of unanswered questions as to how GMO ingredients affect our bodies on a cellular level and soil and ecosystems on a landscape level.
a. Food based supplements often have a higher price tag but they are much more absorbable since we have all evolved with food substances and our bodies’ recognize these substances and absorb them quite easily. Often the quantity of food state nutrients are lower but do not fret as your body is absorbing these nutrients and not just diverting them out of your body!
Growing much of the food I consume in a year has made me very sensitive to the wonder of food—that a tiny seed can become a beautiful 12 pound head of cabbage or another seed aromatic medicinal roots. The sheer number of constituents in a simple piece of food and all the relationships—from soil web to plant defense chemicals that make up living substances (plant or animal) are staggering. This link lists the phytonutrients found in a simple head of cabbage—quite impressive!
Many supplements are made from synthetic lab components, most often derived from GMO corn. Our bodies do not readily recognize these substances and thus must work harder to absorb them.
Some studies have even linked the use of synthetic supplements to increased health risks including death
3. Nutrient forms matter, look for these absorbable forms of these common nutrients on supplement labels:
As Chris Kresser states in hig blog, “Vitamin K2 may be the most important vitamin most people have never heard of”. We are still learning the importance of this nutrient for healthy bones and cardiovascular system
Food state magnesium or
Magnesium: magnesium citrate, magnesium malate, or magnesium glycinate.
B Complex ( synergy of B vitamins together)
Food state coenzyme B Complex for maximizing those B vitamins! or
Methylcobalamin (B12) and Methylfolate (B9) as part of B complex
Food state zinc or
Chelated zincs–gluconate, picolinate, citrate, acetate, monomethionine, or zinc carnosine
Food state vitamin E or
Vitamin E succinate
Food state vitamin C
Living in a place with little opportunity to let the sun soak into my skin I recommend liquid Vit D3 with K2 for optimal absorption and synergy of bone, immune, and cardiovascular health
4. Nutrients are synergistic, for example vitamins B6, magnesium and folate work together. Zinc and Copper levels are affected by one another. A quick search of the web just turned up this link explaining the interdependent relationship of vitamins and minerals.
5. My opinion as to the most important general nutrients for Alaskan women: B complex, magnesium, vitamin E, zinc and vitamin D3, K2. If you haven’t been tested for vitamin D do so today. There are increasing options for high quality food based supplements with the above nutrients. Complement this with a vitamin D3/K2 supplement while living in the North and you’ll have core nutrients. Other nutrients may be needed based on your family history, genetics and personal health history.
6. Most important foods for nutrition: berries, brassica family greens, wild fish… we are so fortunate to be surrounded by these things on our public lands, in our public waters, and in our gardens!