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Vitamins & Minerals

VITAMIN A – True vitamin A (not beta-carotene) is retinol. Retinol is mostly found in grass-fed beef liver, grass-fed butter and aged cheese, pastured egg yolks, and cod liver oil. However, beta-carotene is converted to retinol in the body. Beta-carotene can be found abundantly in a whole foods based diet that includes lots of dark green and orange veggies. A healthy person eating lots of veggies and the above listed animal foods may not need any vitamin A supplementation. If you do have a health condition that would benefit from vitamin A supplementation, then one of the better ways to get that would be via cod liver oil (don’t say “Ewww!”). I recommend using a fermented cod liver oil from Green Pasture.

B VITAMINS – A wide variety of health conditions can be improved with B vitamins, some of the conditions with specific B vitamins. However, as all the Bs work synergistically, I find it best if people supplement with a B complex rather than a single or particular B vitamin. Since the Bs are water-soluble, you are unlikely to reach a toxic level on any particular B vitamin. There are many good B vitamin products on the market. I am a fan of Thorne Research’s Stress B-Complex.  It’s a good formula.

VITAMIN C – Many people don’t get enough vitamin C to support the chronic stress most of us are under these days. If you are overall healthy, get as much of your C from food as you can. I think supplementation is a good choice for most of us though. There’s questionable research regarding ascorbic acid (usually a synthetic), so I like to err on the side of caution and choose a vitamin C supplement primarily sourced from fruit. I personally use Pure Radiance C by Pure Synergy.

VITAMIN D3 – Most people should be taking a vitamin D3 supplement. It helps with many ailments and conditions and overall makes you feel better. The best way to get vitamin D is via the sun, but that doesn’t always happen for many of us. Everyone should get their vitamin D levels tested to know where you stand before supplementing (simple blood test via your doctor office). I recommend, for the general public who has tested at 30 ng/ML or below, to aim for 35 IU per pound of body weight daily. Be sure to retest your levels in a few months and aim for 50 – 70 ng/ML and supplement in a manner that keeps you around this level. There are a few good brands out there, but the two that I use are NOW brand Vitamin D3 and Carlson’s liquid vitamin D3.

VITAMIN E – Vitamin E can sometimes be hard to get enough from food, but you also have to be pretty careful with supplementation. There have been some clinical trials that indicate high doses of vitamin E can be toxic. I do not recommend vitamin E supplementation unless you are going through a heavy weight loss period. In that case, no more than 400 IU and be sure to get a vitamin E supplement containing mixed tocepherols. NOW brand has a 400 IU product with mixed tocepherols.

VITAMIN K – There’s actually more than one vitamin K. The most prominent forms are Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is found in leafy greens (which you should be eating regularly). Vitamin K2 is found in grass-fed dairy and pastured egg yolks. If you consume a fair amount of raw, grass-fed hard cheese and plenty of egg yolks, you may not need to supplement. If you think you might need to supplement, Jarrow has a good MK-7 product which will supply K-2.

CALCIUM – Despite the popularity of calcium as a supplement, most people, including older women, should not supplement with calcium. If you do feel like you should be supplementing with calcium, Jarrow Bone-Up is the only one that I recommend. The reason is that for healthy bones (prime motive for most people to take calcium), you need calcium, vitamin D, Vitamin k2, and magnesium all taken together and this supplement provides them together. *Take no more than 500 mg at one time. If you are getting some calcium in your diet from dark green veggies and grass-fed dairy, then you likely need no more than 500 mg in a day anyways.

MAGNESIUM – I’ve read that an estimated 75% of the population is deficient in magnesium, and I believe it. Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic processes in the body. I have not had a client who has not benefited in some way from magnesium supplementation. Particularly a magnesium supplement called Magnesium Serene (and it tastes good!). If you have never used a magnesium citrate formula, start with 400 mg dose. Any dose above that can cause loose bowels (not urgent diarrhea, just loose bowels), however, some people do well with higher doses. Some experts believe that a chelated form of magnesium is better absorbed by the body. Source Naturals Magnesium Bis-Glycinate would then also make a good choice. *Although you’d have to take four tablets to get a good dosage.

POTASSIUM – Most potassium supplements provide so little potassium, that it is usually not worth buying them. A whole foods based diet can provide lots of potassium. Eat an avocado a day! Other potassium rich foods include acorn squash, spinach, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. *Yes, bananas too.

SODIUM – Sodium gets a bad rap as being bad for high blood pressure and your heart. Sodium in processed, packaged foods, yes. Sodium from real, unrefined mineral rich salt, no. Natural, unrefined mineral rich salt should be part of a healthy diet, and those people with adrenal fatigue should be “supplementing” with mineral salt daily. For two good sources of mineral salt I recommend Redmond Real Salt and Celtic Sea Salt.

IRON – Unless your doctor has checked your iron/ferritin levels and recommended supplementation, do not supplement with iron. You can get toxic with it. Get iron from your diet. If your doctor does suggest supplementation, Floradix is the only supplement that I recommend.

PHOSPHOROUS – A needed mineral, but not needed as a supplement. One of the best ways to get phosphorus is by making your own bone broth which is rich in minerals. Food sources are pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and full-fat yogurt and hard cheeses if you are doing dairy.

IODINE – Iodine is very important to thyroid function. It can be obtained through seaweed and seafood, but can also be supplemented. Unless you know the status of your thyroid, be cautious with iodine supplementation. A reasonably safe iodine supplement is potassium iodide.

SELENIUM – Selenium is very important to thyroid function (among other things). If you are eating sufficient high quality protein daily (pastured meat and eggs and wild-caught fish) and occasionally eating Brazil nuts, you probably won’t need selenium supplementation. If you have a thyroid condition that might benefit from increased selenium intake, this Life Extension supplement could be a good choice.

MANGANESE – No supplement needed. Get this mineral from spinach, pineapple, pecans, macadamia nuts, blackberries, and dried coconuts.

ZINC – There are certain conditions that benefit from zinc supplementation, but zinc is not something you want to supplement in high doses. Typically, for those who have a need for extra zinc, about 10 to 20 mg per day will suffice. I have personally taken zinc glycinate from Numedica.

COPPER – Most people should not need to supplement with copper. One way to “supplement” is to eat four ounces of grass-fed beef liver per week. Otherwise, concentrate on these copper rich foods: cashews, sunflower seeds, pistachios, turnip greens, pumpkin seeds

CHROMIUM – Chromium is popular for those trying to control blood sugar and it is helpful for that. *Although I think controlling blood sugar via diet is better. Chromium is useful for other conditions as well and can be safely supplemented, but no vast amounts are needed. This Source Naturals chromium can probably be taken every other day.

COLLAGEN – Make bone broth from pastured chicken parts and grass-fed beef parts.

MULTI-VITAMIN/MINERAL COMPLEX – You might be wondering why I gave specific vitamin and mineral supplement recommendations rather than just saying take a multi. Mostly because multis are not balanced in the way most people need them. Some contain too much or too little of a vitamin and/or mineral. Eat a healthy, balance whole foods diet which will contain many vitamins and minerals and then supplement with specific vitamins and minerals as needed. If you must take a multi, try to find one that is whole foods based and contains “extras” like antioxidants. I have in the past taken Nature’s Plus Source of Life chewables. I liked the taste. I currently have Source Naturals Life Force for my husband since he does not eat as healthy as I do. *I think there are better multis out there than either of these, but there are far worse ones too! Ideally I’d love both my husband and I to get a full vitamin and mineral test panel and see where we are deficient and then supplement accordingly.