Zinc

oyster and zinc

     Even though my multivitamin already contains Zinc,  I decided to add an additional supplement for a few reasons.  First of all zinc is wonderful for your immune system.  Most people think Vitamin C when they think immune system.  And Vitamin C is truly wonderful, however Zinc is just as amazing and needs to be considered for additional supplementation.  As just mentioned, Zinc plays an important role in immunity by regulating the cellular and humoral immunity.

It provides protection again environmental toxins such as heavy metals and is a part of the powerful antioxidant Copper Zinc Superoxide Dismutase which protects lipids from oxidation.

More than 200 enzymes require zinc to function.

It seems to have its hands on almost everything in the body including DNA synthesis, cell growth and differentiation, liver metabolism of ethanol and hormone metabolism including reproductive hormones, thyroid and insulin.

     Anyone with liver and kidney disease, high alcohol or calcium consumption, or chronic inflammation have increased Zinc requirements.  Zinc is also helpful for a variety of needs issues including acne, hormonal support, any other skin disorders, and macular degeneration.  Although the RDA is much lower, doses up to 150 mg can be very therapeutic.  For normal supplementation for immune system support for example during cold and flu season, intake below 80 mg is usually ideal.

     Long term use of higher doses can lead to copper deficiency anemia since copper and Zinc compete for absorption.  So if you are experiencing any of the issues I have mentioned and believe that you may have a Zinc deficiency or increased need, talk to your Doctor about increasing your Zinc intake.  So why is there a picture of oysters you say?  Well oysters have the highest content of zinc of any food by a wide margin.  So there is 1 good reason to splurge and treat yourself to this pricey seafood if you were looking for an excuse!

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Prebiotics

prebiotics and probiotics

     Something that everyone especially women should take is a high quality probiotic.  If you are unsure whether one is high quality or not there are a few clues to look for.

First of all, a good probiotic is always refrigerated even before opening.  The bacteria are alive and need to be kept fresh in a refrigerated so I recommend buying from a store where they are sold refrigerated and not shipping from online unless they ship refrigerated .

The second thing to look for one with multiple strains, they create a stronger colony.

Third, look for one with about 10 billion active live cultures.  Only a small percentage of what you take actually survives to reach your gut and colonize so the more the better!  So even though 500 million may sound like a lot it really isn’t.

Probiotics consist of good bacteria and they help to replenish and fortify the good bacteria in your gut so that you do not have it overrun by bad bacteria.  Besides aiding in digestion, a probiotic will help regulate bowel movements and can even give a healthier appearance to your skin!  It can help to create a healthy pH environment and prevent the growth of bacteria or yeast, produce certain vitamins and fatty acids, and even metabolize old circulating hormones like estrogen that can build up in your body and cause problems.  So now that you know the importance of probiotics and what kind to look for, you need to know when to take it.

You should take it during or after a meal.  This is because the food in your stomach will dilute the acidity of your stomach and make it more likely for a larger percentage of the probiotics to survive.  Also, keep in mind prebiotics.  These do not need to be supplemented, but rather they can be found as components of different types of food, such as fructooligosaccharides from inulin – which can be found in many dietary fibers.  Foods that include inulin are Jerusalem Artichokes, Chicory, Onions, Leeks, Garlic and Bananas.   If you consume some of these food on a regular basis you should not worry about prebiotics,  however if you do not regularly consume these types of foods then a probiotic fortified with a prebiotic might be for you.

Prebiotics work by nourishing the good bacteria in your gut to increase healthy gut flora.  They are important because simply taking a probiotic will not do much good unless it can be fed by your diet.  So inulin is a great probiotic food, but remember that the good bacteria has to keep the bad bacteria in check and bad bacteria feeds off of sugar and refined foods so your whole diet is actually pertinent to your gut health. I will discuss that in another post of GI health.

Vitamin C

vitamin c fruit

     So if you take a multi-vitamin you probably assume you are getting enough Vitamin C.  And you are… enough to avoid Scurvy that is!  The RDA for Vit C is so low it is almost ridiculous.  In addition to eating a well balanced nutritional diet with naturally occurring Vit C, and taking my multi, I also take a Vit C supplement with a meal.  This is also very important for vegans, vegetarians/pescatarians because it helps increase absorption of non-heme iron which is the only kind you receive from plants or vegan supplements.  Non-heme iron is less easily absorbed but functions just as well as heme iron if you are absorbing enough.  Also, if I feel a little under the weather I up my dosage to about 1 every hour.  Yes I know that sounds like a lot but trust me you can handle it!

     Other countries actually use mega dose Vit C to treat illnesses ranging from the flu to cancer successfully.  Now there is a lot of hate on mega dosing Vit C, but first let me explain something to you.  Vit C is water soluble, which means that excess is excreted through urine so it does not build up or cause toxicity in the body.   Thus it is not really a vitamin that you can overdose on.  Now when you are well you just need a preventative dose and if you get ill you increase that dose because your need and the amount that you are capable of absorbing and utilizing increases.  Well how much do you increase?  Well first know that the higher the does that you take the less your body absorbs.  At a does of 500 mg your body absorbs about 80%., at 1000mg only 20%.  Thus you are absorbing 200 more mg of C by taking the lower does.

     There is also something called bowel intolerance which means that in very high doses Vit C when it is exceeding what your body will utilize will give you loose stools.  So if you reach that point cut back your dose.  That is a good measure to see if you are getting enough or too much.  One thing for you to take into concern would be if you have a problem with kidney stones or calcium levels in your body this would not be a good idea for you as it could cause kidney stones.  And also if you are diabetic or are on blood thinners you should take precaution as well.  For most healthy individuals however it should not be a problem.  I have taken at least 7,500 mg a day for a week at a time when I was ill and have never experienced them, but if you have in the past this is not for you!

     Vit C is a powerful antibacterial, viral and fungal.  It is an antioxidant, ant inflammatory and has shown success is destroying cancer.  At the very least taken in moderation on a daily basis you would be keeping your immune system boosted, fighting inflammation and oxidants.  Vitamin C has a very short half life only about 30 minutes ( how long it is active and circulates in your body before being excreted).  Thus if you are ill you can take it about every hour.  That is why for very sick patients in other countries they put them on Vit C IVs because it is a steady constant flow which is shown to be most effective.  It has been shown to be effective in treating cancer and is also used in conjunction with chemotherapy to increase its effectiveness and minimize side affects.  So if you do not already take it, it might be a good idea to start or to just keep in your house for cold and allergy season.

Prenatals

Prenatals When You're Not Pregnant

     When most women think of a prenatal vitamin they think of a prescription from a Doctor. after finding out that they are pregnant.  This is not how it should be.  All woman of a childbearing age should take a prenatal whether intending to conceive or not. You do not need to wait for a prescription from a Doctor after finding out that you are already pregnant nor should you.  First of all you can buy your own without a Doctor that are tailored to your specific needs and not just a generic product that he prescribes to all of his expecting patients.

     You can find a much better supplement with a little research of your own. You can find something that is vegan, soy and gluten-free, and just has a better all around nutrient value than a prescriptive brand.  The brand that I use is called Super Nutrition Simply One Prenatal.  You can find it on one of my favorite sites: Vitacost.  It is hypoallergenic ( free of soy, gluten, yeast, shellfish, etc) and because it is vegan and whole food based, it is much easier to digest.  There are many others out there that as well for you to choose from.

     So why should all women of a childbearing age take a prenatal?  When most people think of a prenatal vitamin they think of Folic Acid, which is correct because it is essential for a healthy pregnancy.  What most people don’t realize is that Folic Acid is most essential in the first four weeks following conception to prevent neural tube development defects.  Most women do not even know they are pregnant then and by the time they receive a prescription the time of development when it is most vital to have Folic Acid has ended.  So, all women of childbearing age with even a slight possibility of becoming pregnant should be taking a prenatal just to be safe.

     Even if you do not going to conceive, Prenatals have higher supplement doses that an average multivitamin because pregnant women have higher nutritional needs.  They are very safe for a non-pregnant woman and many times someone can be nutrient deficient even if they are taking the RDA.  Everybody is different and some people require more than the RDA and unless you are getting your mineral and vitamin levels tested and having a special compound made specifically for you, a prenatal is a great way to “cover all the bases”.  The worst that can happen is you have brighter skin, stronger nails, shinier hair, and an improved your immune system.  And that doesn’t sound so bad.