There’s no question that we are an overweight nation burdened by preventable diseases. But according to a new book by top medical researchers, our poor health and growing waistlines are often caused by a hidden crisis of micronutrient deficiency.
“About 90 percent of Americans are deficient in at least one health-promoting vitamin and mineral,” says Jayson Calton, co-author of “The Micronutrient Miracle.”
We have become deficient because of stress, nutrient-deficient foods, poor diet, and excess sugar.
“‘Micronutrients’ is an all-encompassing term for vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids,” explains Calton, a board-certified micronutrient specialist.
“They are the good stuff our bodies require every day to obtain and sustain optimal health. They are called micronutrients because the body needs them in micro, or very small, quantities. This is in contrast to macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that your body needs in larger quantities.”
In his book, Calton points out that many current diets focus only on macronutrients, especially cutting carbs. This, he says, is self-defeating. If micronutrients are not addressed, any diet is doomed to fail, says Calton.
“Once you remedy micronutrient deficiency-based disease, you can follow any type of diet your heart desires,” he said.
Here are the top five micronutrients missing in most American diets:
No. 1: Vitamin E.
Many multivitamins contain only synthetic vitamin E (dl-tocopherol). According to the published research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the natural form of vitamin E, d-alpha tocopherol, is retained at double the rate and more biologically active.
Additionally, vitamin E is split into two chemical families — the tocopherols and the tocotrienols — which both contain four unique derivatives (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta). While most multivitamins contain alpha tocopherol, they rarely contain any of the tocotrienols, which have been shown to have 30–60 percent more antioxidant potency.
For the full health benefits of vitamin E, look for a supplement that says on the label that it delivers a “full spectrum” of d-tocopherols & d-tocotrienols.
No 2: Folate 5-MTHF.
It’s widely known that pregnant women need adequate folate (vitamin B9) or they risk having a baby with a neural tube disorder. But 60 percent of the U.S. population may have a genetic enzyme defect that makes it difficult for them to convert folic acid (the synthetic form of folate used in many supplements today) into its active form.
Choose a supplement that contains the most absorbable form called 5-MTHF.
No 3: Calcium.
Calcium is important for bone health and other functions, but take no more than 600 mg at a time. This is the maximum amount of calcium that can be absorbed by the body at one time. Also, take a supplement that supplies the mineral in the form of calcium citrate. Creating sufficiency in calcium not only helps to build strong bones, but helps eliminate cravings for salty and sweet foods.
No. 4: Magnesium.
Take 400 mg of magnesium a day. Most multivitamins supply much smaller, inadequate amounts of the mineral, which is responsible for more than 300 essential metabolic reactions in the body as well as controlling sugar cravings. Look for supplements that offer the mineral in the form of magnesium citrate.
No. 5: Vitamin K.
Vitamin K is often omitted from multivitamin formulations, but it is essential for bone strength and heart health. Look for a supplement that contains both K1 and K2. While vitamin K1 plays a role in blood clotting, K2 is a more important inducer of bone mineralization, and has been proven in studies to be as effective as prescription drugs in reducing the incidence of bone fractures. If you take a blood thinning drug, talk to your doctor before taking vitamin K.
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