Did you know that pure magnesium is highly flammable, making it the perfect ingredient for the explosive energy needed for fireworks, jet engine parts, rockets, and missiles? It’s even more powerful in the human body, as it is involved with over 320 biochemical reactions! Because it’s used in every cell of the body, it’s frightening that 60% of Americans are deficient in this key nutrient. Some of the reasons for deficiency include the fact that we lose magnesium when stressed, that sweating causes magnesium depletion, and our intake is low because poor-quality soil has lowered the natural levels of magnesium in our food.
Here are some conditions that may improve with magnesium supplementation.
Insulin resistance is when cells don’t respond adequately to insulin’s attempt to shuttle glucose into cells after eating, resulting in elevated blood sugar and increased fat storage. It is the hallmark of pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Research shows that people with adequate magnesium levels have appropriate insulin sensitivity and are at low risk for developing diabetes. People with the highest magnesium levels have a lower risk of developing diabetes than people with the lowest magnesium levels. The amazing fact is that even if a person possesses other diabetic risk factors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and excessive weight, adequate magnesium stores will compensate.
Inflammation is at the root cause of so many health problems, such as arthritis, heart disease, and obesity. Magnesium has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory. More than one study has shown that as magnesium levels decrease, CRP (a marker for inflammation) increases. Elevated CRP is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other inflammation-related conditions.
Magnesium deficiency may play a role in hypertension, as demonstrated by studies that have shown an inverse correlation between a magnesium-rich diet and risk of high blood pressure.
Magnesium also has a dilating effect on respiratory passageways, so it benefits asthma for the same reasons as hypertension—it relaxes the airways so more oxygen can flow through.
Anxiety is a symptom that can have a variety of etiologies, both physical and psychological, but magnesium deficiency is high on that list. Animal studies have shown that when mice are given a magnesium-depleted diet for several weeks, they begin to display signs of depression and anxiety. Those symptoms are alleviated when the magnesium levels are restored. Clinical studies have shown that magnesium can relieve anxiety and depression alone or in combination with herbal formulas. Magnesium works in conjunction with calcium to contract and relax muscles, which contributes to its relaxing properties. Add magnesium salts to your hot bath before bed for serious calming effects.
Insomnia can result from many factors, with magnesium deficiency being at the top. Magnesium calms the nervous system, relaxes muscles, and counters stress. Replenishing magnesium can lead to a longer, uninterrupted sleep pattern.
Magnesium comes in many forms, but be sure to avoid the oxide form if you want to maximize absorption. To determine the appropriate dosage, start with one or two pills, and increase the dosage over the course of a few days, until it has a laxative effect, then decrease the dosage slightly. This method determines the appropriate dosage for your individual body, based on your level of deficiency. If you want the laxative effect, then magnesium oxide or hydroxide would be a good choice. If you have a sensitive digestive tract and aren’t able to tolerate the levels of magnesium that you feel you need, add topical sources such as magnesium oil, which can be sprayed on the skin, or take magnesium salt baths.
At first glance, magnesium may not strike you as an exciting, cutting-edge nutrient, but when you are lacking it, it can make a huge impact on your health!
The B complex family of vitamins is extremely important for the nervous system, and a deficiency of even one can cause malfunction of the nervous system. Of course, they play other roles too because they are essential for all bodily functions from energy production to the formation of healthy red blood cells. The B vitamins are water-soluble so they are not stored in the body and need to be replenished regularly.
Some individuals have difficulty processing the B vitamins, and for those individuals I recommend co-enzymated forms that are more bioavailable. These are not typically found in the average B-complex vitamin, but our knowledgeable staff can help you find one. Food-based Bs are also easy for the body to assimilate.
Here is just a sampling of what the eight B vitamins in a typical B-Complex can do for you:
- B-1 (thiamine): one of the chief nerve relaxants; required to burn glucose and turn carbs into energy; deficiency can cause an enlarged heart.
- B-2 (riboflavin): necessary for red blood cell formation and for the metabolism of carbs, fat, and protein; reduces wrinkles around the mouth.
- B-3 (niacin): helps regulate gene expression, the synthesis of fatty acids, and cholesterol; a severe deficiency causes the 3 Ds–dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia.
- B-5 (pantothenic acid): a major stress nutrient; important for fatigued adrenals; converts choline to acetylcholine for proper brain function; reduces insulin resistance.
- B-6 (pyridoxine): responsible for more enzymatic reactions than any other B vitamin; important for the brain because it aids in proper gene expression, and the synthesis and function of neurotransmitters. Important minerals like zinc and magnesium can’t work without B-6.
- Folic Acid: helps form new cells; low folic acid causes certain anemias, some forms of restless legs, high homocysteine levels, and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
- Biotin: is best known for hair, skin, and nails but it is also necessary for adrenal and thyroid function and balancing blood sugar. Requires vitamin E to work.
- B-12 (cyanocobalamin): must be converted in the body to the active form methylcobalamin so the latter is the better form. B-12 is necessary for proper cell division, good memory and energy. Methylation is important for detoxification and cancer prevention. B-12 helps reduce homocysteine and helps regulate the sleep cycle. Deficiency is associated with fatigue and poor memory as well as pernicious anemia which is fatal if undetected. This is best taken sublingually in the morning.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what B vitamins can do for you. Food sources include: legumes, nuts, brown rice, egg yolks, dairy, fish, and chicken. If you feel fatigued, depressed, or have a poor memory, I would highly recommend starting with a good B-complex. My favorite is Natur-Tyme’s B-Healthy which contains some co-enzymated forms for better bioavailability. It also has higher amounts of biotin for the hair and extra amounts of pantothenic acid for stressed adrenals.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is the antioxidant that most people think about when they are asked if they take vitamins. Because it is awater soluble vitamin, your body doesn’t store it so it needs to be replenished daily. Scurvy, caused by a vitamin C deficiency, is the disease known to soldiers and sailors for centuries before the reasons for the disease were discovered during the 20th century.
Vitamin C has many beneficial properties – perhaps some you didn’t even realize. Did you know, for instance, that vitamin C is a natural antihistamine? Many people with allergies find that taking 2,000-3,000 mg per day in divided doses reduces their allergy symptoms. Vitamin C also has some natural anti-viral properties which is why some people find these larger doses helpful when they have a cold.
Did you also know that Vitamin C is required for collagen formation? Consequently, it can be helpful for the skin, as well as cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and even bones. It also aids in the reduction of inflammation, improves gingivitis, enhances iron absorption, and expedites wound healing. Vitamin C is depleted by cigarette smoking, and it is recommended that for every pack of cigarettes smoked, at least 500 mg of vitamin C be consumed to reduce oxidative stress.
Vitamin C is concentrated in the adrenals and is part of the adrenalin molecule which is why, when combined with the B-complex vitamins, it is so helpful for stress.
Much of the Vitamin C content of food is destroyed by heat so the best sources are uncooked fruits such as citrus (oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, limes, and lemons). Other delicious fruits such as strawberries, kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, watermelon, pineapple, and papaya are also good sources. Small amounts of C will also be found in red and green peppers as well as lightly steamed green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. Brussel sprouts are a surprisingly good source containing about 50 mg in a cooked, half-cup serving.
To avoid stomach upset, I often recommend Vitamin C be taken in buffered form. It must also have some bioflavonoids to make it work fully. Lipoic acid, another antioxidant, helps to recirculate the C so it lasts longer in the body. One of the few supplements that fit this criteria is Natur-Tyme Vitamin C – always ahead of the game! A food-based Vitamin C is also excellent but the doses are typically lower.
With its multiple benefits, I must ask, have you taken your Vitamin C today?
By the NEEDS Wellness Team
Probiotics are microorganisms that exert beneficial effects in humans and have been the subject of many recent scientific studies. They benefit us in wide variety of ways, including averting harmful organisms from growing (such as yeast), preventing food and environmental allergies, enhancing the immune system, assisting in the digestion of foods, and promoting the degradation of toxins. Some strains of probiotics have also been shown to bind mercury and other heavy metals, preventing their absorption into the body. Also, probiotics have been shown to prevent and inhibit the growth of colon, liver, and breast cancer. The health benefits of these organisms are so profound; it is one of the few supplements we recommend that almost all people include as part of their daily regimen.
Probiotics are found in a variety of foods, including cheese, yogurt, butter, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. However, most of us can’t or don’t eat these foods in sufficient enough quantities to counteract the challenges of modern life. The proper balance of these microflora can be thrown off by a diet high in meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and other processed foods. Also, constipation, diarrhea, stress, birth control pills or other forms of estrogen replacement therapy, chlorinated water, and antibiotics in the food supply also readily off-set the balance of these beneficial organisms.
So, supplementation is necessary. There are many probiotic products to choose from.
Someone who has difficulty swallowing capsules should consider the tiny Acidophilus Pearls from Enzymatic Therapy; because these do not need to be refrigerated, they are also great for when you travel.
Ideally, infants and toddlers should have primarily Bifidobacterium in their intestines to help prevent and stop diarrhea and to aid in the prevention of allergies. Supplementing with a powdered form of Bifidobacterium, either by itself or with a small percentage of Acidophilus, is easy with infants by dipping your fingertip in the powder and having your child suckle it. Adding one-eighth teaspoon to food, such as applesauce, is a great way to provide the Bifidobacterium to toddlers. Children older than two can be given combinations with higher percentages of Acidophilus.
In order to acquire the most significant benefits that probiotics can provide, maintenance is essential. For maintenance, we suggest the use of products that have a multitude of probiotic strains present to provide broad coverage, such as Flora Biotic Plus from Nutrineeds or Garden of Life‘s Primal Defense.
One of the principal foundations of good health is maintaining a vigorous digestive tract. Probiotics are fundamental to this and have been shown to have so many immediate and long-term positive health effects. They inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that cause digestive stress, improve digestion of food and absorption of vitamins, stimulate the body’s natural defense mechanism – the immune system, and help make vitamins needed by the body. With all of these outstanding health benefits, you should consider the importance of working them into your daily routine.
Are you looking for the best multivitamin available, but just don’t know where to start? In our previous blog, we covered the optimal forms of vitamins that you should look for on the supplement facts panel. Here, we will cover the forms of minerals with the best bioavailability.
Magnesium is an important mineral because so many of us are deficient. The amount found in a multivitamin may not be adequate because this mineral takes a lot of volume; therefore, you may need to supplement with an extra magnesium pill. When looking for the best form, you’ll notice that magnesium is always bound to another nutrient for the sake of stability. Some nutrients that are bound to it release the magnesium into its single form easily, and some hang on tighter, making it less absorbable. Magnesium carbonate, sulfate, hydroxide, gluconate, and oxide are forms that are least absorbable into the tissues. This means that they are more likely to have a laxative effect, which may be desirable in some situations. Better absorbed forms are magnesium citrate, taurate, glycinate, and threonate. Citrate is one of the more common forms and is very cost-effective. Magnesium threonate is the newest form of magnesium, and has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. This makes it an excellent choice to prevent dementia and other cognitive problems. However, this form is not found in any multivitamin.
Calcium is another mineral that is not found in adequate doses in a multivitamin because of its bulk, so it may need to be taken as an additional supplement. Calcium carbonate is commonly found in multivitamins because it is cheaper and less bulky, but it is poorly absorbed and not ideal for building bone. Instead, look for calcium citrate, hydroxyapatite, or Microcrystalline Hydroxyapatite Concentrate (MCHC).
In general, the true mineral chelates are well absorbed, but there is some controversy over which ones are authentically chelated. Albion brand chelated minerals are an example of a true chelate, so their presence indicates a high quality formula.
Beyond the chelates, zinc picolinate is preferred over the sulfate or gluconate form.
For selenium, selenomethionine is a common and well-absorbed form; it is considered superior over selenium yeast, and sodium selenite. Chromium picolinate is recommended over nicotinate, yeast, and chloride forms.
When looking for a high-quality multivitamin, it may not be possible to find the optimal form of every single nutrient. The key is to find a formula that has a good amount of nutrients in the best forms, in the quantity that you need, at a price you can afford. If you need assistance finding a product to suit you, you can always call the NEEDS wellness team for a complimentary consult!
One of the most common questions I have been asked over the years is that regarding the difference between the multivitamins found at the drugstore or big-box store, and the type of multivitamins found at NEEDS and high-quality health food stores. After all, they seem to have the same vitamins listed on the supplement facts panel, right?
On the surface, they do all appear the same. But there are big differences in the actual forms of each nutrient in terms of absorption and the way the body uses them. As a general rule of thumb, the cheaper materials are the least effective and the biggest waste of money. So it really pays to know what forms are the best and to spend a little extra money on the ingredients that work best.
One vitamin that you want to pay close attention to is vitamin E. The most important concern is that the product contains d-alpha tocopherol, the natural form of this fat-soluble vitamin, instead of dl-alpha tocopherol, the synthetic form that should be avoided entirely. If you really want to reap the benefits of vitamin E, you should look for all four forms of tocopherol: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta-tocopherol. There are also four forms of the tocotrienol part of vitamin E (the same four prefixes as the tocopherols), but it is quite rare to find all eight isomers in a multivitamin formula due to the expense. At a minimum, be sure to avoid the synthetic vitamin E, which is common in TV-commercial type multivitamins.
Another important fat-soluble vitamin is D. Cholecalciferol, known as D3, is the one better utilized by the body, as compared to D2. D2 is the form that can be toxic to the liver in high doses, but D3 is far less likely to cause a reaction. D3 is typically derived from lanolin and is very affordable, so most manufacturers have converted to using this form exclusively.
In the water-soluble B vitamin family, there are a few basic things to consider. B12 can be found as hydroxyl-, methyl- and cyano-cobalamin. Cyanocobalamin is the least effective but most common form found in a multivitamin. It is not a form found in nature and isn’t utilized effectively by the body. A high-quality multi will offer the hydroxyl or methyl-cobalamin forms which offer superior activity.
Vitamin B6 is usually found in the basic form of pyridoxine. A superior and more active form is pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, also known as P5P, but you are less likely to find this in a multivitamin.
Up next: what forms of minerals you should look for in a multivitamin!