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Nutrient Deficiencies: Are You Getting What Your Body Needs?

Nutrient Deficiencies: Are You Getting What Your Body Needs?

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By    |   Friday, 02 December 2016 10:03 AM

Despite having the largest selection of affordable food available in the history of mankind, Americans are woefully undernourished and suffer from a range of nutrient deficiencies, experts say.

“Just because people are getting an abundance of food doesn’t mean they’re getting an abundance of nutrients,” says Paula Mendelsohn, a nutritionist who practices functional medicine in Boca Raton, Fla. “The biggest reason is what individuals are choosing to eat. A lot of them are eating the food that’s most convenient, which is processed and has lost much of its nutritional value.

“It also depends on what kind of soil the food is grown in, how it’s processed, how long it’s been sitting on the shelf, how it’s prepared and even the state of a person’s digestive system.”

Millions of Americans take nutritional supplements to fill in the gaps, spending more than $20 billion on them every year. But it’s important to be sure you’re taking the right ones.

“Not all nutrients are created equal,” Mendelsohn tells Newsmax Health. “You have to make sure they are in bioavailable form that the body can benefit from.”

Trevor Cates, a naturopathic physician based in Park City, Utah, says it’s a good idea to work with your doctor or a nutritionist in determining whether you have a nutritional deficiency and select a supplement to address it.

“The only way people should get a supplement is through the advice of a licensed professional, like a nutritionist, so they know what they’re taking, why they’re taking it and what it’s supposed to do,” says Mendelsohn. “People need guidance.”

Here’s the scoop on eight nutritional supplements that Americans are most likely to need:

Magnesium: It activates more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body and is vital for bone formation, heart health, energy production, nerve transmission, nutrient metabolism, and more. The governments’ Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adult men is 420 milligrams, but many experts suggest getting twice that amount. Rich sources include green leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. Good supplements combine magnesium with either citrate, taurate, malate or glycinate. Avoid magnesium paired with oxide and folate.

Vitamin K2: This vitamin is needed for calcium absorption, and a deficiency can contribute to osteoporosis as well as cardiovascular disease when the calcium winds up being deposited in blood vessels instead of bones. One problem is that K2 is found in only a few foods, such as organ meat and egg yolks. RDA is between 90 and 120 micrograms (mcg), but some experts recommend as much as 1,000 mcg a day. Be sure to get the MK-7 variety of K2.

Vitamin D: Important for bone health, vitamin D also protects the body against chronic ailments including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Our bodies synthesize D from sunlight, but it is also found in fatty fish, liver, eggs, cheese and fortified foods such as milk. RDA is 600 International Units (IUs) but many experts suggest supplements containing 2,000 IUs for people who are deficient. Opt for gel caps of vitamin D3, not D2.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): This heart-healthy antioxidant is vital for the production of energy and is found in beef, fatty fish, seeds and oils. Since cholesterol-lowering statin drugs deplete the body of CoQ10, many doctors prescribe supplements. Experts recommend upwards of 200 milligrams a day. The ubiquinol version of the enzyme, as opposed to ubiquinone, may be more effective. Choose a liquid version over powdered because it’s more bioavailable.

Vitamin B12: Needed for the production of red blood cells, a B12 deficiency can leave people feeling tired. Since it’s only found in meat, fish and eggs, vegetarians often lack this nutrient that also helps fight depression, cancers and cognitive decline, among other things. The RDA is a scant 2.5 mcg, but many experts recommend supplements containing 1,000 to 2,000 mcg. Make sure to get methylcobalamin instead of the cyanide-based cyanocobalamin, and a liquid or spray form may be more easily absorbed than powder or pills.

Iron: A deficiency of iron is the most common cause of anemia in the U.S. Even though iron is found in a host of foods, including meat, seafood, poultry, dark leafy greens, beans and fortified cereals, many women are lacking in this vital mineral. RDA ranges from 8 to 18 mgs a day, with pregnant women needing even more. But the most common type of iron supplement is ferrous sulfate, which is not easily absorbable. Go with ferrous gluconate instead.

Omega-3s: These fatty acids are necessary for your body to function and are particularly beneficial for heart health. The best food sources are fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, sardines, anchovies and mackerel. You need both EPA and DHA types of omega-3s, ranging between 500 and 1,000 mg. of combined EPA/DHA a day depending on your diet and medical conditions. It’s important to get fish oil that is not tainted by heavy metals and other contaminants. It also needs to be fresh because it can go rancid. Experts say that krill oil is one of the best choices.

Calcium: You need calcium to build strong bones and for many other bodily functions. Good calcium sources include fish, leafy green veggies, dairy products, cereals, and soy. RDA is up to 2,000 mg. a day. Calcium carbonate is the most common and cheapest supplement but has very low bioavailability and may contribute to calcium deposits in blood vessels and joints, increasing risk of heart disease and arthritis. Calcium citrate is better, but the best are calcium citrate malate and calcium orotate.

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Millions of Americans suffer from nutrient deficiencies, and many take nutritional supplements to fill in the gaps. But it's important to be sure you're taking the right ones. Here's a primer.
nutrition, supplement, vitamin, deficiency
Friday, 02 December 2016 10:03 AM
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