To supplement or not to supplement????
I wholeheartedly agree that supplementation should not make up for a bad diet. Ideally, we should be getting the range and quantity of nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed to thrive, however this is not the case for the majority of Australians. And sometimes, not even the super-healthy ones!
There are a total 7 macrominerals, that we need in relatively large quantities, including calcium, chloride, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulphur and magnesium. These can easily be found in a range of vegetables and fruits. We also require minute amounts of trace minerals, including boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese just to name a few.
Australian soils relatively “old” in the scheme of soils. The most nutrient-dense soil is the top soil, and much of our topsoil has been lost to erosion. Combined with conventional farming, we have soil that is extremely low in zinc and selenium in particular. Our soils are also quite low in magnesium and iodine compared to other continents.
Unlike vitamins, plants cannot create minerals, hence local Australian produce may be full of vitamins, but unlikely to contain essential minerals that we need. The mineral must be in the soil or water in order for the plant to absorb it. Certainly organic, and even more so biodynamic, produce may contain more minerals than conventional produce, however I believe this is still not enough.
Dr. Carole Hungerford is a holistic doctor, an organic biodynamic farmer and author of the award winning book, “Good Health in the 21st Century”. I first heard Carole speak on The Wellness Coach with The Good Doctors podcast. She is an advocate for getting more minerals into our diet and is very knowledgeable on Australian soils and the lack of essential minerals.
I choose to supplement my diet with minerals for this reason. In addition, the birth control pill also robs the body of these essential minerals, as I have previously discussed here. Not all mineral supplements are created equal. Try to find natural/elemental versions rather than synthetic creations. I source these from my wonderful Chiropractor who has done most of the research for me!
Undoubtedly, mineral deficiencies play a key role in many health problems. Below I explain which minerals I choose to supplement.
Magnesium – Macromineral
Magnesium has a role in 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is essential for enzyme activity. It is particularly important for a healthy menstrual cycle (hence important for PCOS) and can alleviate period pain. It’s also super important for muscle recovery and muscle tension.
People with high blood pressure, preeclampsia, anxiety disorders, and chronic fatigue syndrome often require magnesium to support their health.
Also, you may not realise that it is in fact magnesium, not calcium, that helps to form the hard tooth enamel that protects us against tooth decay.
Selenium – Trace Mineral
Low selenium levels have been linked to:
- thyroid disorders
- decreasing sperm motility
- decreasing fertility
- increased miscarriage rate
- increased cancer rates across the spectrum
- mood disorders
- increased risk of heart disease
Selenium is particularly important for a healthy thyroid, and this is why I have found supplementing with this mineral very helpful as a natural treatment for my hypothyroidism.
Zinc – Trace Mineral
According to Dr Hungerford, zinc is essential for genomic stability, as it has been found to prevent cells from becoming malignant, and therefore the integrity of DNA is dependent on appropriate levels of zinc. It is also essential for required for mental development. Zinc deficiencies have also been linked to mood disorders.
Zinc does wonders for our skin and treating acne, and it is also an effective natural sunscreen!
Iodine – Trace Mineral
Iodine is another important mineral for healthy thyroid function. As it is only needed in minute amounts, it is best to increase iodine through food sources, such as kelp and other seaweeds. I have nori flakes which I sprinkle of various dishes.
Iodine plays a role in:
- thyroid disorders
- fibrocystic breast disease
- breast cancer
- polycystic ovaries
- ovarian cancer
- mental retardation/cretinism of the newborn
- autistic spectrum disorders
Chromium – Trace Mineral
This mineral is a little less known than the others, but plays an important role in blood sugar levels, as it is essential for glucose metabolism. I take this to assist with my PCOS, and insulin resistance.
What to know more? You might like my blog post on essential vitamins found in fruits and veges!
Any feedback? I’d love to hear from you!