Salt Deficiency: The Benefits of a High Salt Diet, by Sophia Ruiz

salt deficiency

A salt deficiency is more common than you think. We don’t consume nearly as much as we should, mostly because of our fear that salt causes high blood pressure.

the salt myth

What comes to mind when you think of salt?

Probably high blood pressure. it’s time to change the stigma around salt!

A recent study was conducted that followed 2,600 women and men for 16 years. they found no evidence to suggest that a low-sodium diet lowered blood pressure — in fact, those that consumed 4,000mg of sodium per day had the lowest recorded blood pressure in the study.

The study also presents evidence for the blood-pressure-lowering benefits of essential minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium — those that had a balanced diet of these minerals along with a higher sodium intake had more stable blood pressure over the long term.

The decrease in blood pressure that some experience from cutting salt intake is not a result of true lowered blood pressure, but rather a decrease in blood volume.

ancestral salt consumption

In ancient times, some cultures, like the Romans, ate upwards of 25g of salt per day and others even up to 100g!

While we may only eat muscle meat today, our ancestors ate the whole animal: the bones, blood, organs, brains, and more. the blood and interstitial fluid itself could provide a week’s worth of sodium!

Before refrigerators, salt was used to preserve food and hence, we had a much higher salt intake.

the benefits of salt

Increased circulation/vasodilation: Sodium increases circulation and blood volume and dilates blood vessels. This is important for transporting nutrients into tissues and cells and regulating heart rate.

Better gym performance: Salt helps to remove acid from cells that can cause muscle cramping and stiffness.

Weight loss: A lot of weight loss programs use calorie-counting to encourage weight loss but forget about vital weight loss tips like restoring insulin sensitvity. Improving a salt deficiency can remove one of the factors that can cause insulin resistance. Since the body uses insulin to signal the kidneys to store sodium when levels become depleted, a chronic salt deficiency results in adverse effects on insulin levels and glucose tolerance that can promote fat storage. A successful weight loss plan should emphasize the importance of healthy salts.

Thyroid function: During one hour of exercise, you can lose up to 110mcg of iodine through your sweat. Consuming iodine-rich salt like himalayan pink salt can help to replenish this thyroid-boosting mineral.

Decreased stress levels: One of the least acknowledged stress causes is a salt deficiency. low salt intake activates the sympathoadrenal system that results in stress symptoms like increased heart rate, promotes insulin resistance, and hypertension. Eating a diet with adequate salt reduces the activation of the stress system that is caused by a salt deficiency, allowing you to focus on external stress management.

Better digestion: One of the key components of the digestive system is stomach acid — which is composed of hydrogen chloride gas and water. Salt promotes digestive health by providing chloride to the body and promoting the production of healthy stomach acid levels. this prevents digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and dysbiosis.

Reduces brain fog: Sufficient salt intake provides the electrolytes needed for neurons to fire properl

Prevents addictive behaviors: In a state of salt deficiency, our body compensates by hyperactivating the dopamine reward system in the brain. This is to encourage us to satisfy the craving for salt, but it can also exaggerate the effects of things that stimulate the release of dopamine — like sugar and cocaine.

the right salts

Iodized table salt doesn’t have all of the extra minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium that are essential for the body. Himalayan pink salt, celtic sea salt, or salts from ancient oceans are much healthier and beneficial to our bodies. Dr. James DiNicolantonio advocates for 3,000-6,000mg of salt per day.

ways to increase salt intake

Citrus “salt juice”: Add 1/4 tsp of one of the salts listed above to 8-12oz of water with a squeeze of lemon or lime to neutralize the salty taste of the water. Slowly start to increase the amount of salt until it becomes too salty for you. This is a super easy way to boost your salt intake.

Always salt your food: Salting all of your food to taste makes sure you are getting a dose of sodium at each meal.

Dose salt before a gym run: We lose a lot of salt when we exercise, so it’s important to make sure you’re replenishing your salt levels. Dosing a teaspoon of salt with lots of citrus in some water before the gym can help you to maintain your salt levels.

Drink mineral water: Water from natural mineral-rich springs contain beneficial minerals and salt that can provide a natural sodium source.

A healthy part of a wellness lifestyle is including healthy salts in your diet. I hope this post cures your salt phobia and encourages you to make salt part of your daily routine!

Sophia Ruiz is a freelance writer, wellness blogger, and trained esthetician from San Francisco, CA, now living in Toledo, OH. She shares science-based health, fitness, and lifestyle tips. Learn more about Sophia on

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/curvenutrition

Website: CurveWellness.com

 

 

 

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Beating Emotional Binge Eating, by a Holistic Nutritionist

We have all been there at one point or another…..You have a crappy day at work, you spill coffee/tea all over you new shirt, maybe your project gets shot down, you get cut off in traffic, your favourite pair of jeans somehow gets a giant hole in the crotch, or maybe it’s all this and then some! So you go home, open your cupboard, fridge or BOTH and seek comfort and security in whatever is inside….

I am not here to tell you that you should NEVER do this… I mean after all, I am only human and have indulged in this once, twice or a hundred times myself. After all, there is a reason that we find food so comforting, and most of the time it comes from the memories of our mother (or father) making us smile with delicious treats and meals filled with love!

BUT emotional eating, if done too often and as the sole way of coping, can lead to binge eating, and seeking emotional security in the form of food. This can all lead to weight gain, self confidence issues, mental health challenges and physical health issues like diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and hormonal disturbances.

Being a reformed binge and emotional eater myself,I know that overcoming this challenge, and even just acknowledging that it even exists can truly be very very difficult for so many reasons. First, food is everywhere in our society and society has really made it okay to seek comfort and security within food…especially for women! Think of all the times in a movie/tv show you have seen a woman who has just been dumped digging into mountains of food, usually in the form of sugary treats like ice cream, cookies, cake, and candy. Second, food is a cornerstone and a must for our survival as human beings! And third….part of the reason ALL living things eat is for pleasure! There are literally certain neurotransmitters that are released when we consume MOST food that give us a sense of well being, connection and pleasure.

So why is it so important to not just rely on food for emotional comfort?

Well besides the physical and mental health issues that have already been listed it is also important for 3 other main reasons:

  1. Relying upon food as your sole way of coping with distress and emotions actually makes you dependent upon it, which can lead to addiction to food. This is often how most drug/alcohol/tobacco addiction starts. We feel pain, or emotional distress, so we to cope we use. Using makes us feel good (temporarily) and so we keep using every time we feel bad again. Want to learn more about food addiction visit: https://www.thehealthloft.ca/food-addiction/
  2. We can stunt our emotional growth and intelligence. A lot of the time, emotional and binge eating is used as a way to escape whatever it is that is going on within your life, or yourself, that is causing emotional distress. The more that we avoid emotions, the more detached we become from our emotional well being, which means the less happy we usually feel over all.
  3. Our pleasure centers get all confused. When you start to create reliance upon ANY substance, food included, our pleasure centers become rewired over time to stop receiving pleasure from normal things that we should receive pleasure from. In the food world, this is when you see people who “do not like” vegetables or fruits…..it’s not because they do not like them! It is actually because the pleasure centers in the brain have been rewired to see pleasure as only that coming from eating whatever foods they are using to cope (using sugar treats, baked goods, or heavy carbs).

So how do we start breaking away from food as a coping mechanism and stop emotional binge eating?

woman riding big swing in front of waterfalls
Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

Well, depending on how long and how often you use food as a coping mechanism for what is going on in your life will depend on how much work, time and effort you will have to put in. If you are someone who is deeply addicted to food and binge eats often to help deal with your emotions, you may want to consider joining a support group (there is one is almost every city, as a well as tons online!) or enlisting the help of a health professional. If you are someone who does it just every now and then but would like to nip the habit in the butt before it gets out of hand, doing it on your own with the support of a loved one, close friend, can usually do the trick. BUT, no matter where you are on the spectrum, the following tips will definitely help set you up for success!

 

  • Make and drink a hot beverage BEFORE digging into your comfort food. Whether it is some herbal tea, a superfood elixir, or a decaf coffee, taking the time to actually make something for yourself shows love and appreciation for yourself (think of it as a form of self care) and it also gives you a few extra minutes of distance between that negative emotion that you were feeling to when you reach for your comfort food. By doing this, you are starting to rewire the brain, not solely associate food with comfort. Plus, let’s get real….Sipping and holding onto a hot beverage really feels like a big mug of love in and of itself!
  • Get silent. When you start to feel that emotional distress rear its ugly old head and the need to reach for comfort in your favourite foods, try instead to just get silent with yourself, breathe deeply and really feel into that emotion. It doesn’t need to be a full sit down meditation, but maybe just a moment or two with your eyes closed really scanning and breathing into your body, and where it is exactly you are feeling that emotion. A lot of the time, when we just feel into an emotion and meet it head on, it will release itself because all it is looking for is recognition. BUT, most of the time we avoid doing this because we are scared we will get stuck in that negative emotion, when in fact it is exactly the opposite!
  • Ditch the processed sugar! I am sure you are sick of hearing by now that sugar is the enemy…but in this case it really truly is! Seeking comfort in the form of processed sugary treats creates a cycle that is really hard to break because not only are you emotionally forming a dependance, BUT you are also physically forming a dependance! Processed sugar actually activates the SAME neural pathways that opioids and alcohol do! Processed sugar also causes a blood sugar spike and then crash later on which will leave you feeling depleted of energy, irritable and in a low mood/headspace which will have you reaching right back for that sugar, AGAIN!
  • Learn a new POSITIVE coping mechanism. Often we pick up our coping mechanisms as children and don’t really give any thought to what they are or how we got them. BUT it is very easy to teach yourself new ones. All you have to do is pick something that intrigues you like; journaling, working out, singing out loud, getting outdoors, counting to 10, deep breathing, or busting a dance move! Once you have something that you think you would like to incorporate into your coping skills, start making a conscious choice to do that thing instead of reaching for food when you feel like you need a bit of comfort! After 3-4 weeks of consciously working on this, it will become second nature and then, BAM, you have yourself a new coping tool!
  • Practice gratitude. Incorporating gratitude is a huge part of overcoming any obstacle in life but even more so when that thing has to do with our emotions. There are numerous ways you can incorporate gratitude into your healing process but my favourite ways are; listing 5 SIMPLE things you are grateful for when in emotional distress, keeping a DAILY gratitude journal, and saying a prayer of gratitude and thanks at the end of each day naming the biggest thing you are grateful for that happened that day.

Not sure whether or not you are emotional eating or have questions about what exactly emotional eating is? Visit https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/tests/health/emotional-eating-test for a free quiz and more resources.

DanielleDanielle is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, Certified Counsellor and a Lifestyle Coach with a focus on mental health, adrenal, and thyroid issues. Danielle received her CNP from the institute of Holistic Nutrition in Vancouver and studied Psychology at the University of Calgary. Danielle has always been fascinated with just how much physical and mental health are linked when it comes to healing and so she takes a deep dive into each when working with clients on achieving their health goals. You can catch Danielle talking about all things health and wellness on her blog/website www.thymetonourish-ca.com and on her instagram page thyme_to_nourish

 

4 Ways to Start Your Sugar-free Journey Today

4 ways to start your sugar-free journey …today.

How’s that #nosugarnovember coming along? It’s tough, ya. Sugar, like wheat, hides everywhere! Cutting sugar is a process, it won’t happen overnight, BUT you can start today. It’s never too late. Among the huge list of reasons to cut sugar, is that it majorly suppresses your immune system. And, with the holidays approaching, you don’t want to get sick, do ya? Start your #sugarfreejourney today with a few easy steps:

dessert donuts doughnuts food
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

✔️ Have a replacement. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I’m not about deprivation. I believe it’s healthier to replace rather than eliminate and end up feeling resentment. Find yourself some healthy treat recipes like bliss balls, protein bars, or make a big bowl of fruit salad and keep it in the fridge ready to go.

✔️ Do a pantry clean out. Outta sight, outta mind, yes?! Go through every item in your cupboards and ditch it if it contains any of the sugars. Get to know the 52 alternative names for sugar and keep a list on hand.  Some to look out for are dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, cane sugar, caramel.  These don’t only hide in the obvious foods like donuts and chocolate bars.  Watch out for sugar in juices, commercial smoothies, salad dressings, sauces, food colouring and even ketchup.

✔️ Stay hydrated. As you’re detoxing, expect headaches, mood swings, sleep disturbances and more. If you stick to your guns, this phase won’t last long. Just be gentle with yourself through the process, give yourself time to rest, and fill up on water, herbal tea  or coconut water, which is packed with electrolytes to keep you hydrated.

✔️ Fats and protein. Include them in every meal and snack to help regulate your blood sugar. This will prevent those sugar spikes and lows that you might be used to if you were eating a lot of refined sugar. Think nuts, avocado, beans, almond butter, coconut, bliss balls, smoothies.

Check back in with us on the socials and let us know how your journey is coming along. Have you gotten over the hump?

You Hear You Should Eat More Plant-based Protein, But Where Do You Begin?

Eat more plants, eat the rainbow, eat your veggies.  These terms might be the new green of the nutrition world, but there is good reason.  Plants provide fibre, phytonutrients, phytosterols, decrease inflammation in the body, regulate blood sugar, increase immunity, do not clog arteries, lower cholesterol and provide a source of protein that is not a saturated fat that you would get from an animal source.

What does this mean? A plate that is filled with at least half (or more) of colourful veg means clearer skin, better gut health, less bloat, less blood sugar spikes and crashes, less illness, more energy and lowered risk of disease. Sounds like our parents weren’t just nagging us to eat up, they were on to something.

So, what are plant-based proteins and how do you get them in to your diet? You might already be incorporating plenty of plants into your meals and not even know it. The only catch with plant-based proteins is that most are not complete, meaning they do not contain all the amino acids that an animal protein would contain.  The good news is that all you have to do is combine a few different plants throughout your day and you make yourself a complete protein. They each contain different amino acids so you are sure to cover them if you eat a variety each day.

Here is a list of some easy-to-find plant-based proteins that you can add into your meals to benefit from all the wholesome goodness that they have to offer us, naturally.

Oats: (26g protein/cup) A nutrient-rich cereal grain that is demulcent and soothing to the digestive system. Enjoy them as overnight oats, turn them in to a dairy-free oat milk, breakfast cooking, or add them into smoothies.

breakfast cookies

Hemp Hearts: (9g protein/oz) This is the nutritious heart of the hemp seed that has a nutty flavour and does not need to be cooked. These add a nice crunch to salads, granola or yogurt, or blend them up with almonds for a delicious non-diary milk.

Chia Seeds: (5g protein/oz) These tiny seeds are native to Mexico and have changed many lives in the plant-based community.  They absorb 10 times their weight in water, so you will want to make sure they are either soaked first, or you eat them with a liquid. Because they grow in size, they keep you full longer and add great bulk to smoothies, granola and pudding. Our favourite way to enjoy them is with coconut milk in a chia pudding, either for breakfast or as a dessert.

Nuts: (7g protein/oz) Nuts, particularly walnuts and almonds, are high in plant-based protein and high in fibre. Ground nuts make a wonderful pie crust, dairy-free milk, topping on salads or yogurt. It is really simple to add nuts in to your meals as they can be eaten raw. Also try nut butters and nut oils on salads. Aim for the raw or dry roasted, unsalted, varieties. Nuts should be stored in your freezer as they can go rancid easily.

Nutritional Yeast: (9g protein/2 Tblsp) aka, “nooch”, is a new fave in the plant-based world. If you are lucky, you can find a brand that is fortified with vitamin B12, which does not normally exist naturally in plant-based foods. These dry flakes give a cheesy, nutty flavour that is naturally low in sodium but still packs alot of flavour. Nutritional yeast can be turned into a dairy-free cheese sauce, a vegan “parmesan”, and crisps up nicely on roasted chick peas.

crunchy chick peas

Quinoa: (8g protein/cup) Considered a superfood, this seed that is eaten like a grain and has more nutritional value and protein than other plants. It makes a great alternative to rice, when boiled, and can also be popped like popcorn, when dry. The seeds can also be soaked and sprouted for easier digestion. Once a week, make a big pot of cooked quinoa and add it to salads, stuff it into peppers for dinners, use it in wraps and homemade granola, to sneak in extra protein throughout your days.

Flax Seeds: (6g protein/oz) Most beneficial when ground, flax seeds contain the most omega 3, which is anti-inflammatory, skin, brain and heart healthy. It is a source of phytoestrogen and lignans for women’s health,  and antioxidants for boosting the immune system. Flax naturally gels when mixed with water, so it is often used as an egg replacement in vegan baking. Add ground flax to granola, bliss balls, cereals, in baked goods, on yogurt and in smoothies.  Also try flax oil in salad dressing or on its own for it’s blood sugar-regulating properties.

Pumpkin Seeds: (9g/oz) Rich in antioxidants and magnesium, these powerhouses are beneficial for men’s health, post-menopausal health, heart health and immunity. Enjoy them raw or roast them and add them to salads for a nutty crunch.

Spirulina: (39g protein/oz) A blue-green algae that packs nutritional value, protein and flavour. It is often used in detox programs and face maks!, as it pulls heavy metals from the body and is anti-microbial. It provides energy so avoid using at night. Add it into smoothies for a blood sugar-balancing, uplifting morning pick-me-up.

Beans: (15-17g protein/cup) Soybeans are complete, the other beans can be combined with other vegetables for the 9 amino acids to make them a complete protein. If you have trouble digesting beans, try soaking and sprouting them for a day or two to release the phytic acid that causes tummy troubles in some. Otherwise, steam them lightly and add them to salads and side dishes, roast them for a crunchy snack, turn them into heart-healthy hummus, or cook them with veggies for a delicious chili.

Now that you have the tools to increase your energy, reduce your risk of illness, improve your gut health, boost your immunity and give your skin a glow, what are you waiting for? Fill that plate up with a colourful array of veggies and sprinkle it all with some nuts and seeds.  There you go, you are eating more plant-based protein.

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on women’s wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy meal plans on Instagram.

Picky Eater? 5 Sneaky Ways to Hide More Veggies in Your Meals

Whether it’s a picky eater you are tiptoeing around, or it’s your own wellness goals you are trying to reach, eating more veggies is on the top of many minds. Vegetables are our source of fibre to help regulate our bowels, clean out unwanted toxins, and provide us with the vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy.

For some, it’s a colour thing. Just seeing a green drink or a big side of spaghetti squash make many people cringe. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I have seen everyone from toddlers to husbands with a veggie phobia and, as a mom, I have some tricks. I have compiled my list of hacks to easily sneak in the foods that are considered too healthy for some.

Pancakes, when you make them from scratch, are a great medium for hiding leftover roasted sweet potato, carrots, and zucchini. A bonus, top them with nuts, almond butter and berries, and cook them in coconut oil for some extra healthy fats and nutrients.

blur breakfast close up dairy product
Photo by Ash on Pexels.com

Muffins and Breakfast Cookies are often made with all kinds of whole grain goodness, like oats, flax and nuts.  The secret additions are apple sauce, shredded carrot, dried fruit and zucchini which makes them uber moist. This is one of my favourite muffin recipes, made with roasted sweet potato.

food coffee cup mug
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

Scrambled Egg Cups are not only the ideal on-the-go breakfast, but they hide vegetables really well. Whisk up a dozen eggs with a splash of water or milk of choice, and pour it into lined muffin cups. Sprinkle in diced red pepper, tiny pieces of mushroom, zucchini, spinach or tomato, top with cheese and bake for 20 mins. Voila, a mini omelette with no sugar and all the protein to keep your fueled until lunch.

egg cups

Smoothies, of course, are on the list. My top sneaky choices are spinach, steamed zucchini and cauliflower, roasted carrot and yam, and avocado. When I’m making dinner, I always roast extra veggies and freeze them for smoothies. Zucchini and cauliflower have little flavour in smoothies, but instead add a creamier texture.

veggie foods

Overnight Chia Pudding might be the quickest snack to prepare, although it takes some time to set up. I mix 1/3 C chia seeds with coconut or almond milk (some use yogurt) as the base. This will expand into a pudding consistency overnight. My top additions are pureed pumpkin with cinnamon and walnuts, almond butter with banana, and roasted beets with vanilla and pecans.

blueberries in clear parfait glass
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My wish is for everyone to have a good relationship with vegetables and not be afraid of them because of their colour or texture. It might simply mean blending or pureeing them, slicing and dicing them in to pieces small enough to ‘hide’ for now. Once the secret is out that you have been serving veggies on the regular, I am sure you can expect some lifelong changes on your menu and some new fans of the veg.

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy meal plans on Instagram.

Beauty Foods: 5 Common Nutrients That Give Your Skin That Glow

As a former Make Up Artist, a Nutritionist, and the creator of a line of natural skin care for babies, I know a thing or two about skin.
Topically, our skin is affected by what we eat, or don’t eat, what we put on it, and by our environment.  Consuming trans and saturated fats can clog pores and promote bacteria production and acne.  Also, high refined carbohydrate consumption can increase testosterone conversion to DHT, which enlarges the pores and increases sebum (oil) production and acne.  Sugar is also a culprit as it is turned into saturated fatty acids by our body and forms a greasy film on our skin. (1)
A lack of nutrients can also cause skin conditions.  A deficiency in zinc, antioxidants, fiber, water and EFA’s can cause acne, premature aging, dehydration and sun damage as your skin is less protected from free radicals. Some foods work well topically to improve suppleness, shine, and clean pores, but some foods contain nutrients which are more effective when eaten.
Of course, a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of water will keep our entire body systems working optimally, but these particular nutrients will help your skin looking its best. 

Liquid EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids): Oils containing EFA’s work better internally rather than topically as they can become rancid if left on the skin and exposed to air.  Internally, EFA’s, such as walnut, sesame, and flax oil, help to improve the skin’s suppleness and makes it less prone to infection.

bowl delicious diet dry
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Zinc: Zinc is a micronutrient that works particularly well on acne conditions. A deficiency in this mineral can increase the conversion of testosterone to DHT, increase pore size and sebum production. Zinc plays an important role in healing and tissue building. Foods rich in zinc are spinach, oysters, lamb, eggs, nuts and pumpkin seeds.

 

Selenium: A trace mineral that helps to protect against free radicals that can cause premature aging, dryness, tissue damage and even skin cancer. Cold water fish and brazil nuts are excellent sources of Selenium.

appetizer crab cuisine delicious
Photo by Terje Sollie on Pexels.com

Fiber: This is the roughage of plant material that binds to cholesterol and other toxins in the body and flushes it out. Daily fiber intake is important for our entire body to keep it clean. The skin is our body’s largest organ, so if the body is not clean, the evidence shows on the outside, usually in the form of skin rashes and acne. An excellent form of fiber is ground flax, an ancient seed that is the richest source of alpha-linolenic acid, plus protein, vitamins and minerals. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and has cancer fighting properties. (2)

four brown wooden spoons screenshot
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E help protect our body from free radical damage that can cause premature aging, tissue damage, disease and the deterioration of fatty acids. Foods high in vitamins A, C and E are berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, wheat germ, carrots, avocado, sunflower seeds, eggs, dairy and spinach.

full drinking glass with slice of lime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Always include exercise in your daily routine. It aids in detoxification of toxins through the skin.  Sweating is good! And, don’t forget about water. You can liven it up with lemons and berries for flavour and an extra boost of antioxidants.

 

Additional sources:

  1. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 
  2. Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill

 

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy meal plans on Instagram.

The One Vitamin In Your Supplements That Might Be Sabotaging Your Wellness

Even if you eat your greens there’s a good chance you need a vitamin supplement in your daily routine! Modern day soils are depleted of essential minerals and nutrients that we really need for optimal health. Because of this, there’s a good chance you will eventually become a self proclaimed supplement hoarder like myself.

Supplements seem relatively harmless — you check the ingredients, pick the most cost effective one, and walk out of Whole Foods $100 in the hole (or is that just me?).

Eventually, when you really start to delve into the world of wellness, you realize not every supplement is created equal.

Bioavailability is one of the most important things to consider when looking for supplements in general. Things like chelated minerals bound to amino acids and active vitamin forms like retinol. The one vitamin that you need to know about, though? Folic Acid (also known as B9). It’s in every prenatal, multivitamin, and hair-skin-nail complex out there. The problem is that folic acid is synthetic and requires a lot of enzymatic reactions in the liver to create its active form: folate. This is bad news for people with impaired liver function and MTHFR mutations (1 in 4 have it). Even worse, folic acid preferentially binds to liver receptor sites, preventing dietary folate from getting in. The low activity of the liver enzyme that converts folic acid can lead to elevated blood levels of folic acid (especially those with and MTHFR mutation), which is linked to cancer.

Active B9 does all the nice things like preventing anemia and birth defects, giving you energy,  supporting mental health, and boosting the immune system. To reap all the benefits of folate, take your standard multivitamin (that probably contains folic acid) out of your routine to free up the receptor sites in your liver. Adding more spinach and legumes into your diet provides dietary folate that is easily converted by the liver. If greens aren’t really your preference (which, if you’re a wellness junkie… this probably isn’t you) or you know you have the MTHFR mutation, you can switch out your multivitamin for one that contains methylfolate!

This is something I desperately wish I would’ve known starting out my wellness journey. Save yourself money and a deficiency and get some folate!

Sophia Ruiz is a freelance writer, wellness blogger, and trained Esthetician from San Francisco, CA, now living in Toledo, OH. She shares science-based health, fitness, and lifestyle tips on her Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/curvenutrition.