Essentials to Health
“Health does NOT come from a bottle.”
No matter how compelling the advertising or convincing the stories about the newest supplement, there are no magic pills or potions that magically make you healthy.
In a perfect world, the best source for all your nutrient requirements is from real whole foods. Whether it is macro-nutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates) or micro-nutrients (vitamins & minerals), you are always better off satisfying those requirements by eating a variety of healthy, unprocessed foods.
However, when is it appropriate to supplement your diet, how do you know which supplements you need and which ones are a waste of your money?
There are 2 different purposes for supplementation:
- Therapeutic– This type of supplementation is based on restoring ‘sufficiency’ of a particular nutrient or molecule based on a consultation and testing with an expert. A Naturopathic Doctor should be contacted to help determine if there are any deficiencies that need to be addressed therapeutically.
- Maintenance– This involves supplementing with selected nutrients that are difficult to obtain even in the context of a nutrient-dense diet. This article is referring to this type of supplementation.
While the gold standard would be to determine your levels of any given nutrient via a blood test, it is very common that most Canadians are deficient in the following 3 things. There is increasing amounts of research that is showing that these “Essentials” are vital to the optimal functioning, healing and regulating of many of our bodily functions.
Lastly, the nutritional supplements marketplace is very confusing, over-populated and the quality varies widely. Fortunately, there are many highly reputable companies that have all the ingredients listed with lot numbers that have been validated by a third-party laboratory for identity, potency, and purity. Any supplement that does not have this distinction is considered to be a waste of money.
The 3 ESSENTIALS Needed to Optimize Health
- OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and are considered to be essential fatty acids because they cannot be synthesized by humans, thus must be obtained from the diet. Historically, we obtained our essential fatty acids (Omega 3, 6 and 9), from dietary sources of wild game and seafood. The ideal balance for our fatty acids is ~ 1:1 ratio between omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. This allows your cells to work optimally.
Our contemporary Western diet, complete with refined vegetable oils rich in omega 6, has completely altered the critical balance of omega 3 to 6 ratio. Most North Americans today have anywhere from a 10:1 – 40:1 ratio in favour of omega 6s.
Why this balance is so important is because Omega 6 fatty acids promote inflammation in the body, which has been known to lead to different types of chronic health problems.
Supplementing your diet with pure, pharmaceutical-grade fish oils has proven the best way to re-balance this all-important ratio, along with reducing your omega 6 consumption and focusing on eating a balanced, nutrient rich diet.
How much do you need?
Depending on your health status and quality of your current diet, we recommend 1-2 grams of total Omega-3 per day for a healthy adult. Please note, when taking this supplement, take it with meals that contain fat which is ideal for absorption.
What is recommended: NFH Trident SAP 66:33 – Omega 3
NFH or Nutritional Fundamentals for Health, is a Canadian-based company near Montreal. They set out to “Bridge the gap between nutraceuticals and evidence-based medicine”. All ingredients, for each lot number of each product, have been validated by a third-party laboratory for identity, potency, and purity. State-of-the-art technology is used in the manufacturing to ensure no oxidation occurs during processing and encapsulation.
- VITAMIN D3
In recent years, the importance of vitamin D has been thoroughly researched and it has been found to be a critical vitamin to overall human health. Vitamin D has two forms: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Cholecalciferol is produced in the skin after exposure to UVB sunlight and can also be found in foods including liver, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardine and cod, or in egg yolks.
With over 3000 binding sites for Vitamin D in every cell, it shows that humans are clearly designed to spend time in the sun supplying our body with the rays that aid in the production of this vital pro-hormone. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles rarely allow for such regular sun exposure, especially in northern climates. Getting the minimum 20 minutes/day of at least 70% skin exposure to sunlight in the middle of a February Freeze is very challenging.
Research shows that Vitamin D3 helps with bone health, preventing osteoporosis, immune function, and cardiovascular health. Vitamin D3 is also needed to absorb Calcium into the body.
How much do you need?
The best way to know how much Vitamin D is needed is to determine your current blood levels of Vitamin D. For optimization, your blood Vitamin D levels should be greater than 20 ng/mL for adults and children. Unfortunately, most of us fall seriously short.
What is recommended: NFH Vitamin D3 SAP
When it comes to vitamin D supplements, absorption is the key factor. Vitamin D is a fat-soluable vitamin, meaning that it does not dissolve in water and is absorbed best in your bloodstream when paired with fats. It is recommended to eat this with a meal.
All ingredients, for each lot number of each product, have been validated by a third-party laboratory for identity, potency, and purity.
About 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad, live inside your digestive system. Collectively, they are known as the gut microbiota. Within those trillions of gut bacteria are about 1,000 different species, represented by some 5,000 distinct bacterial strains. Everyone’s gut microbiota is unique, but there are certain combinations and collections of bacteria that are found in healthy individuals.
Your gut microbiota plays many roles. It metabolizes nutrients from food, serves as a protective barrier against infections, and produces vitamin K, which helps make blood-clotting proteins.
The main factors that affect your personal microbial mix are nutrition, environment, stress, age, genes, and medications (particularly exposure to antibiotics, which can deplete gut bacteria). Historically, we would have been exposed to all kinds of bacteria in the environment – from other animals, the foods we ate and playing in dirt. Unfortunately, some of our healthy bacteria have been depleted with poor nutrition, prescription drugs, anti-bacterial products, and highly stressful lifestyles. For these reasons, it is wise to take a probiotic supplement.
How much do you need?
We recommend taking a broad-spectrum probiotic, between 10-20 billion CFU/day.
What we recommend: NFH ProBio SAP
ProBio supplies a compatible and complementary blend of 10 probiotic strains to address a side spectrum of gastrointestinal health benefits. An enteric coated vegetable capsule ensures 100% delivery of live microbial cells to the intestine and is resistant to gastric and bile acids. All ingredients, for each lot number of each product, have been validated by a third-party laboratory for identity, potency, and purity.
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHERS?
There are several other nutrients that almost made the ‘essentials’ list because a significant percentage of the population has been shown to be deficient.
Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in North America. It can contribute to a multitude of symptoms and long-term health concerns. Magnesium is an essential mineral for the optimal functioning of the cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems. It also plays a role in mood stabilization. Magnesium is vital in metabolic function and can often manifest in problems with sleep and muscle pain.
Suggested supplement: NFH Magnesium SAP
Dosage: 250–350 mg/day
Vitamin K2 is an essential nutrient that is found in animal foods and fermented plant foods. It plays an important role in bone and cardiovascular health
Suggested supplement: NFH K2-D3 SAP.
Dosage: 100-200 mcg/day
WHERE TO START…
If you’re dealing with a chronic health problem and looking for solutions, then consulting with someone who is going to get to the root problem is what we recommend. Please contact us if you are looking for a recommendation or if you have any questions.
The easiest place to start is by eating a healthy, nutrient dense diet.