Less than 100 years ago, it wasn’t necessary for most Westerners to take nutrient supplements. Our soil was rich in essential minerals, our diets were packed with organic and home-grown food, and our environment contained far fewer health-destroying toxins.
Fast forward to the 21st century, however, and much has changed. Due to ongoing soil erosion, widespread pollution and much more, it is now difficult for many of us to obtain all of our essential nutrients from regular foods alone. Deficiencies in several important vitamins and minerals — deficiencies that were once unheard of — are now a pandemic in the Western world.
This article contains a list of four supplements which, if taken daily, can help correct many of the nutrient deficiencies we face today. Of course, other supplements might be required depending on your personal needs.
A nutrient-rich superfood
Perhaps the most important supplement we can take is a dedicated whole food supplement that contains a robust and well-rounded nutrient profile. Though opinions differ on which whole food is best for this purpose, you can’t go wrong with established superfoods such as Moringa oleifera, chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass or barley grass. Taking one or more of these foods in concentrated supplement form daily is an excellent natural alternative to commercial multivitamin tablets, which are usually comprised of synthetic ingredients that can inhibit absorption rates.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, between 68 and 80 percent of the United States population is estimated to be deficient in magnesium, an essential macromineral responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.(1) Insufficient magnesium intake can result in chronic fatigue, muscle cramps, muscle weakness and, in the most serious instances, significant personality changes and heart failure.
While a wide variety of magnesium supplements are on the market today, most of them tend to work better as laxatives than actual sources of dietary magnesium. Magnesium glycinate is one of the best choices, since it is highly bioavailable and doesn’t contribute to loose stools.(2) For maximum benefits, take between 400 and 1,000 milligrams of it per day.(3)
Like magnesium, iodine is another essential mineral in which most of us are unknowingly deficient. In fact, unless you happen to live near the ocean and consume large amounts of fresh seafood, you’re probably seriously lacking in iodine. Iodine deficiencies can significantly reduce our thyroid hormone levels, causing us to retain water, gain weight, develop heart failure and more.(4)
Though many people experience good results with liquid iodine supplements such as Lugol’s iodine or nascent iodine, the most natural option is a seaweed supplement such as kelp or bladderwrack. Aim for between 500 and 1,000 micrograms of iodine per day.(5)
EPA and DHA
It is a well-known fact that the average Westerner consumes far more omega-6 fatty acids, which are commonly found in processed vegetable oils, than omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, our average omega-6 and omega-3 ratio is currently estimated to be 15:1 — far greater than the optimum 4:1. This imbalance promotes the pathogenesis of many serious diseases, including cancer and heart disease.(6)
To help correct this imbalance, it’s important that we both reduce our intake of foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids and increase our intake of omega-3 fatty acids. The best way to achieve the latter is to supplement our diet with good sources of the two preformed (and thus more potent) kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, namely eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
As most people are aware, high-quality fish oil is the king of EPA and DHA. For best results, aim for at least 1,000 milligrams of fish oil-derived EPA and DHA per day.(7)
About the author:
Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world’s healthiest foods.