Nutrition from food and supplements, is my ever-changing research project. Nutrition for Mental Health Certification, a CEU course that I took with PESI had the MOST VALUABLE TRUTH, and that is: n=1, the sample size for specific nutrition is one. EVERY individual requires unique health care. What’s right for me is not always right for you.
The legal disclaimer: I am a Duke Integrative Medicine Health Coach and nutritional chef, not a doctor. I do have a voracious appetite for health knowledge. BUT you must work with your trusted health functional medicine professionals to know what’s best for you. IMPORTANT! f you take ANY PRESCRIPTION medications, supplements (and even foods) may interfere with your Rx’s effectiveness or duplicate their purpose. Some prescriptions deplete nutrients that you might need to replace. On a diuretic? You’re losing magnesium. Acid blocker? You can’t absorb vitamin B-12. And the list goes on.
Do we need supplements? Yes. When I walked into the new Wegman’s here in Raleigh a few years ago, the produce department greeted me, like a continent covered with intense color. I actually cried because with all of this abundance, I thought, How can there be this much food and people still be undernourished in North Carolina, the U.S.A., the world? This food is not really enough—no matter how much and how perfect is—to keep our bodies and our brains healthy.
According to Author, Revolution Health Radio podcaster, and co-founder of the California Center for functional Medicine, Chris Kresser, the vitamin and mineral levels in our foods have declined 20 to 40% over the last 50 years. Our supermarket foods look beautiful but are lacking in nutrients because the soil’s microbiome has been destroyed by industrial agriculture’s mono-cropping, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, plant modifications to create beautiful, sometimes flavorless, fruits and vegetables that ship well and tolerate retarded ripening, and time-delay from soil to plate. I mistakenly thought that it was because there were not enough nutrients in the soil and that’s what fertilizers, organic ones, could replace. BUT the problem is that the microbial ecosystem of industrial farmed soil isn’t healthy. The microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses, bugs, worms, etc.) make the nutrients bioavailable for the plants, just like our gut microbiome make nutrients available for us. Regenerative faming honors the soil. So grow your own, buy local, organic, and as fresh as possible for the highest nutrient content and the best flavor.
Oh and there’s a whole universe of nutrient synergy to dig into — like you need copper to utilize iron and magnesium for biosynthesis of D. You can see where this can lead.
Here’s a summary of nutrients and testing information as shared by Dr. Hyman‘s The Doctor’s Farmacy Podcast 602 interview with Chris Kresser.
BRAIN! ALL B vitamins are critical but B12 and Folate may only be absorbed sublingually for over 50% of the population. The MTHFR gene variant prohibits B12 and folate absorption except if taken sublingually. Bs are so important. If I become scattered or moody, it’s usually a B vitamin issue.
B-9 FOLATE & B-12 BRAIN Homocysteine or methylmalonic acid is a better test for B-12 ( and B-9 Folate) as serum B-12 doesn’t decrease until stage three and four of efficiency. Excess is possible but unlikely as it is a water-soluble vitamin, which means you pee it away.
IMPORTANT: For absorption, take B12 methylcobalamin and folate methylcobalamin sublingually (under the tongue) B-12 and Folate/B-9 (NOT Folic Acid, which is synthetic.) B infusions? Maybe not. Dr. Gundry summarizes B-12, folate, and iron in his September 13, 2022 podcast. BE SURE TO LISTEN TO THIS!
C 1000 mg TIME RELEASED or take 250 4 times a day. Immunity, iron/nutrient absorption, tissue repair, collagen formation, wound healing, bone & cartilage support. TOO much will give you diarrhea! Especially important for immunity and nutrient absorption!
CALCIUM BRAIN! Tricky to test because if our intake drops our body just pulls it from our bones so the levels seem normal. A chronometer is used which means patients record what they eat over three days which should be 1000-1200 milligrams a day. Tricky spinach seems high in calcium at 30 mg/cup but the oxalate in spinach can prevent any calcium absorption in the body. Brassicaceae (cruciferous vegetables) are a good source, i.e. arugula contains 32 mg per cup of available calcium. Some other sources include dairy and soy products, chia seeds, basil seeds, white beans, sweet potatoes, sunflower and sesame seeds. Get your calcium from food. It’s not recommended to take calcium supplements because of the cardiovascular risk and kidney stones.
COPPER BRAIN! Normal range is 62-140 mcg/dL. Excess copper is associated with neurodegenerative conditions. Test to be sure your level is not too high.
COQ10 Heart Health
D-3 The sufficiency level for D-3 is 30 ng/ml but but it’s safe up to 100 ng/ml. Shoot for 50 ng/ml.
I take 5000 IU per day, EVERY DAY. It is a major brain hormone.TAKE IT IN THE MORNING with K-2 and magnesium. D can interfere with sleep if taken later. Sunlight! Mushrooms, set in the sun have more D. In fact, get outside in the sunlight (no sunglasses) sometime between sunrise and 10 a.m. every day, even if it’s cloudy and your sleep will improve.
IRON Excess iron “rusts” your organs including your brain. Listen to the Dr. Gundry podcast linked above. Watch for iron content in your foods. I love dark green leafy brassicas and my iron level can be high, so I donate blood as often as I can.
K-2 There is no accurate test for vitamin K-2. Take it with your D-3.
LUTEIN 20 mg Eye health I take Bilberry and eat wild blueberries too.
MAGNESIUM THE MAGIC MINERAL you must have. A blood test reveals only a small percentage of the total magnesium in your cells and tissue. Some signs of low magnesium are mental apathy, depression, muscle cramps, constipation, anxiety, numbness, heart issues. Overdose signs are diarrhea, low blood pressure, fatigue, muscle weakness. Overdosing can be fatal but magnesium is definitely depleted from our food sources and it is so important for every function. Bioptimizers is one brand I take. Magnesium citrate and glycerinate are well absorbed—NOT OXIDE used in paint and is cheap.
OMEGA-3 BRAIN from a FISH SOURCE NOT FLAX OR WALNUTS 2000 mg ratio — DHA 66% (brain) EPA 34% (heart) Brain power, heart health. Balance overload of Omega 6 in our diets.
SELENIUM BRAIN Toxic if you overdose. Brazil nuts are loaded with it BUT my nails started ridging which is a sign of overdose so if you eat well it might be easy to get the 55 daily recommendation.
ZINC Brain function and immunity
These are NOT all of the vitamins, minerals, nutrients…just the top ones that seem to make my brain and body happy. Find a functional medicine doctor:The Institute for Functional Medicine
What not to eat? Sugar, fructose when it’s not packaged in a fruit or vegetable. Sugar is a real inflammatory ingredient and inflammation is terrible for the brain. Honey, maple syrup in moderation. And a splurge now and then because, well, I’m a bit fond of my family favorite baked goods. I do have to say that when I go off my healthy (mostly healthy) eating plan and splurge on biscuits, Christmas cookies, and other heavy carb/sugar things, I start to feel foggy and tired. That’s enough to motivate me to return to my luscious rainbow cuisine.
Skip alcohol and caffeine. Well, try to anyhow. I love Athletic Brew non-alcoholic brew as good as any alcoholic one, and Surely Wines, non-alcoholic wines.
What to eat? Organic, regenerative, fresh, real food as local as possible and in season.
- SMASH Wild only Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines, Herring. Most omegas are in the skin.
- Farm-raised okay for MAGIC-HEALTH-GIVING Oysters, Mussels, Scallops
- Free range grass-grazed and finished beef, bison, lamb
- Wild game (But consider their diet – are they eating Round-Up?)
- Pasture-raised poultry
- Nuts – Macadamia, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, pignoli Almonds and cashews cause issues for some folks.
- Seeds – Pumpkin, sesame, hemp, chia, basil, flax
- Nightshades see my upcoming blog…about these and oxalates
- Brassicas (cabbage)
- Artichokes LOVE LOVE LOVE
- Fennel Celery Carrots
- Alliums GOBS and GOBS of onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, chives
- Fruits – mostly berries BUT also lots of pomegranates
- Squashes Winter & Summer
- Mushrooms LOADS shitakes, oyster, lion’s mane, maitake, reishi, cordeceps, morel, chanterelles, and any others you have fun discovering
- Good FATS High heat: Ancient Organics ghee, avocado oil, sesame oil Low heat: grass fed Irish or French butter, EVOO—lots and lots of EVOO from Italy is the most nutrient dense
- Pasta – from Italy
- Cheese from France (Roquefort), Italy (Parmesean), Greece (Feta), and/or from sheep, goats, buffalo (Buf mozzarella is yummy.) I do use organic Mexican 3-cheese blend as well as a vegan version.
- Eggs Free range, organic, local
- Sourdough bread
- CoCojune Yogurt – Coconut! I love this. I strain it to make it a thick Greek style yogurt and use it anytime I want a dairy replacement for yogurt or sour cream.
- Spices and Herbs A LOT of Spices and Herbs
- Fermented foods kimchi, sauerkraut, cheeses, kombucha
- Dark 70% or higher chocolate, preferable French and often
Here’s To Your Health!