About Essential Nutrients—
Which Supplements are Necessary?
It is a fact: MOST Americans are deficient in many nutrients.
That might seem odd, since:
- Over 67% of our adult population is overweight and
- Over 15% of our children are overweight as well.
You can be malnourished even if you are overweight- and many of us are both.You can be malnourished even if you are overweight- and many of us are both. Click To Tweet
We Consume Plenty of Calories but Not Enough Nutrients
Some people still believe that all of our nutrients should be available through the diet. Ideally, this would be true but our busy lifestyles, the higher cost of “organic” and Non-GMO food and the ready availability of prepackaged and processed food means eating more food is simply not the answer.
This article will walk you through which specific nutrients are needed by your body, and help you decide if adding supplements may help improve your health.
What We Need
|Your body does produce some nutrients and chemicals all on its own, such as vitamin D3 and vitamin B3 in the right circumstances, but there are 40 essential elements you must get from your diet. These are called “essential.”
If your diet is insufficient in these “essential nutrients” then supplements can fill in the gaps.
In order for our physiologic (normal body) processes to function at optimal levels, we must consume adequate levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. You can SURVIVE on lower levels – at deficient levels- but your body won’t be able to perform as well as it could.
If these essential nutrients are not obtained through eating of regular foods, they may be obtained by supplements in order to aviod deficiency and the illness or injury that could result. Taking supplements can provide you with ideal amounts of the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
There are a lot of vitamin supplements on the market. Many of these supplements do not contain enough nutrients. They may contain only a few – they may contain less than you need, or they may be manufactured using impure or highly chemical processes which don’t provide the nutrients that are easiest for the body to use. As discovered in this news report, even the best known names like Target and Walmart have been caught selling sub-par supplements (link to articles).
Make sure that you get the most out of your supplements. You’re spending money on them – and relying on them to keep you healthy. Focus on quality and take them on a frequent basis – preferably every single day. Consistency counts when you are trying to keep ahead of your health.
As most of our population is deficient in a number of vitamins and minerals, daily supplementation with a multiple vitamin is a good idea. Your “multi” supplement should include a good supply of a mix of vitamins and minerals, combined into one or two “pills” so that taking them is convenient. You should make taking them a part of your regular daily routine. Taking them on an empty stomach may cause nausea, so make sure you include them after eating – such as right after breakfast. The vitamins and minerals that you should be looking for include:
- Vitamin A* – Good for the eyes, skin and mucus membranes. Vitamin A is fat-soluble and too much can be bad for you but it should be a part of a multi-vitamin supplement.
- B Vitamins – Highly valued for combatting stress, metabolism, growth and energy. Vitamin B deficiencies are common, especially in “special” diets such as vegetarianism. (Article about B vitamins)
- Vitamin C – Works as an anti-oxidant and immune system booster. Also important for maintaining connective tissue and blood supply. (Article about vitamin C)
- Vitamin D* – Essential for bones, teeth, proper functioning of the immune system and may help to prevent cancer. It can also be manufactured by the skin, but many people do not have enough as they spend limited time in the sun. Vitamin D is fat-soluble but overdose is rare.
- Vitamin E* – A highly potent anti-oxidant, Vitamin E fights skin and organ damage from aging and exposure to the environment and also aids in healing. Vitamin E is fat-soluble and too much may be bad for you.
- Vitamin K* – Vitamin K is not as well-known but is essential for proper function of the blood system and regulates the clotting mechanism. Deficiency may not be as common but may pose a significant risk when it is lacking in the diet.
- Calcium – Most notable for bones and teeth. It is available in dairy but many people have restricted dairy from their diet. In addition, calcium carbonate is the most common form of supplementation but it is not well-absorbed. Your supplement should include other calcium salts such as calcium chloride or amino acid chelates of calcium to make sure that it can be absorbed.
- Magnesium – Magnesium is absolutely essential for nerve and muscle cell function and without magnesium, calcium doesn’t work as well. (Article about Magnesium)
- Potassium – In most cases, potassium should not be taken as a single supplement but is a valuable ingredient in multi-nutrient supplements. It is needed for nerve and muscle function, kidney function and is often deficient in people who take certain medications.
- Iron and Trace Minerals – Trace minerals such as Copper, Boron, Manganese, and Zinc are essential for enzyme formation and functioning of the immune system. They are called “trace minerals” because they are needed in very small amounts but are still essential.
Nutrients uncommon in #multivitamins are important to your #health. Do you know what they are? Click To Tweet
|Nutrients not commonly found in daily #multivitamins are important to your #health. Do you know what they are?|
When we think about our daily requirements, we most often think about vitamins and minerals. These are obviously important but there are other essential nutrients that you should know about too. The following nutrients are not commonly found in daily multivitamin supplements but may be just as or sometimes even more important to your health.
- Omega 3 fatty acids – Essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 are not classified as vitamins or minerals but play an important role in cholesterol metabolism and cardiac function. They are also vital for cognitive functions and act as potent anti-oxidants for protection from environmental damage. Cold water fish are the most common source of Omega-3 but they are also found in some plant products such as flax-seed. Most people do not consume enough of them and can benefit from a regular supplement. Children deficient in Omega 3 have been shown to have less cognitive ability, as this critical nutrient specifically impacts brain development.
- Probiotics – About 90% of your immune system is in the gastrointestinal tract. You have healthy bacteria such as Lactobacillus that help to digest food – but also help to fight off diseases. These bacteria can be killed off by antibiotic use and must be replaced in order for the immune system and GI tract to function well. They prevent overgrowth of yeast and can help to combat digestive issues such as problems digesting certain types of starches. Lactobacillus and other “friendly” bacteria can sometimes be replaced by yogurt or fermented beverages such as kefir but they are conveniently available in supplement form as well.
There are many other nutrients which are very important such as Coenzyme Q10. Some of these nutrients can be manufactured by the body but if the right vitamins, minerals and amino acids are not present, deficiency may still occur and supplementation may be beneficial.
Consistency counts when keeping ahead of your #health. Quality #supplements daily could make all the difference!
Consistency counts with your #health. Quality #supplements daily could make all the difference! Click To Tweet
The United States Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate the quality of vitamins or other supplements but they do provide nutrient listings of what should be considered adequate. Some of these listings may be confusing but they are a start to find out where you need to be with your supplements.
Supplement labels contain “Daily Value” percentages of all the identified “essential nutrients”. This percentage will tell you how well a particular supplement meets the minimum requirements.
For example: The Daily Value of Vitamin C is 60 mg. If your supplement contains only 40 mg, the Daily Value percentage will be 67%.
Keep in mind that many alternative medicine and nutrition experts believe that much more than the bare minimum can be taken to optimize health. Using Vitamin C again as the example, it is not unusual to find supplements that are well over 60 mg – in fact 500 to 1000mg.
Quality supplement manufacturers should ensure that the amount contained is not harmful, though it may be much higher than the FDA’s minimum recommendation.
* Some of the vitamins listen above have a * following them. These supplements are “fat” rather than “water” soluble, and therefore have more strict “upper limits” of what is considered safe because they store in the body. If you use blood thinners you should especially be aware of your vitamin E and vitamin K intake. Water soluble vitamins store lesser amounts in the body, and excess is removed by the kidneys.
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