Vitamin C

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We all know Vitamin C is important for the body. It has to come from our diet as it is not a nutriet we can make and it has so many functions its difficult to know where to start! It is used to treat so many conditions and the research and anecdotal evidence behind it as a nutrient is vast. As a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist I  look at all of my clients individual needs before prescribing any supplement or food changes. It is recommended that you consult a professional Naturopath or Nutritional therapist before making any changes yourself.

What Does it Do?

The C stands for many things

Citrus (from where it is known mostly to be found),

Coughs, Colds and Cancer (it is central to stimulating the immune system and production of immune cells. Along with its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties it may help to prevent and heal many illnesses)

Collagen (of which it is a main co-factor in producing),

Controversy (over which form to take, how much to take and whether it works against cancer etc),

Contained in most fresh foods (it is water-soluble  so is sometimes lost when the food is cooked),

Co-factor (from collagen, connective tissue, red blood cell, bone, teeth and gums, immune cell to energy production vitamin C is found in most chemical reactions withing the body),

Cholesterol (it regulates cholesterol breakdown ),

Cell (maintains health of cell membranes so reduces tumour spreading, is a powerful anti-oxidant and helps in wound healing)

Calm (supports the adrenal’s and ovaries)

Clear (may detox many toxic metabolites and helps to excrete heavy metals. It may also protects against nitrate digestion)

Cognitive (Helps regulate brain function and messages to and from the central nervous system)

 

Where is it Found?

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Mainly found from plant sources. Generally in fruits and vegetables that are vividly coloured. Especially orange and yellow, green (leafy veg) and blues (blueberries and blackcurrants). Most plants will contain vitamin C to protect their cell membranes and produce energy. It is very susceptible to heat, light and movement. The vitamin C content is diminished by these factors. So the fresher the produce the better. The fruit with the highest levels is the  Kakadu plum from Australia closely followed by Camu Camu a plant with berries a little like cherry’s that contain high levels (normally found dried or in powdered form (Vitamin C is water soluble) then Sea Buckthorn (a berry) and Arcola cherry. Then the fruit and vegetables are all much lower. Interestingly until fairly recently we were consuming enough Vitamin C through diet alone. Consuming less fresh and more industrialised and processed food has great increased our need and decreased our intake of Vitamin C.

Factors that deplete it (increasing demand)

Smoking (it is a cell membrane protector and anti-oxidant), stress, acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, heavy metal toxicity, exercise, diabetes, wounds, burns (including sun burn) and high blood sugar.

 

Supplementation advice

Ascorbic acid is the most widely available form of vitamin C- it is very acidic on the body. Better to supplement with the buffered Sodium ascorbate which is easier for the body to absorb and use. Beware however most vitamin c is derived from corn and mostly GMO corn. Try to source non- GMO corn sources for supplementation. Contact your practitioner (Nutritionist or Naturopath) for dosage advice.

 

 

 

 

 

Magnesium

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Magnesium an element on the periodic table we can not live without. It has so many functions within the body, 50% of total body magnesium is found in bone (source) it is not a surprise most of us show symptoms of deficiency; As a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist I  look at all of my clients individual needs before prescribing any supplement or food changes. It is recommended that you consult a professional Naturopath or Nutritional therapist before making any changes yourself.

What does it do?

It is involved in enzyme reactions in the digestive system and many other systems, helps regulate bowel movements

Helps cells to manufacture energy, will help use sugar and fat for energy so may result in weight loss,

Balances calcium, helps to relax muscles reducing pain and stiffness, regulates muscle contractions especially heart muscle, maintains muscle

Pulls water into cells and therefore is essential to rehydrate the body,

Improves insulin sensitivity and therefore is important in blood sugar balance and hormone regulation,

Reduces blood stickyness for example found in heart disease and high blood pressure,

Improves circulation, reduces pain and twitches (for example restless leg syndrome)

Enhances the immune system,

Helps to regulate temperature,

Helps transmit messages from the brain to the muscles and therefore helps to ‘turn off’ the stress response, can help induce restful sleep, also good for people with high anxiety levels

Works with calcium and Vitamin D to maintains bone structure and health,

Facilitates DNA replication (for when the body is constantly developing new cells- perfect DNA is the key to cancer prevention and prolongs ageing)

It truly is an amazing nutrient!

Where is it found?

The main place to find magnesium is in green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Refined flours, rice, sugar and other products have removed magnesium and other nutrients in the processing. These are also to be avoided as they mainly need magnesium to help process them within the body.

Green leafy veg especially dark green like spinach and Kale. Whole grains such as oats, buckwheat, rye, barley, rice, Quinoa, millet and chia. Beans such as black, soy (preferably fermented), Kidney and lima, Nuts and Seeds such as pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Cashews, flax seeds, sesame seeds (tahini), sunfower seeds, pine nuts, watermelon seeds. Raw cacao, coconut (mostly in dried and creamed coconut), watermelon, eggs.

Factors that deplete it;

Stress, high blood sugar, diet high in processed foods (especially soft drinks), calcium supplements without magnesium, some pharmaceuticals, soft water, alcohol and other recreational drugs. The soil is also depleted of magnesium so there is sometimes a need for supplementation. You can also use epsom salts in the bath, or make a magnesium lotion or oil (see here, here and then use the magnesium oil to make a lotion adding it here– Thanks for the idea Coconut Mama)

 

 

Vitamin D

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We hear a lot about Vitamin D nowadays. It has been linked to greater immunity, curing cancer, better mood, stronger bones, enhanced digestive health and the list goes on. There are more indications that skin cancer and breast cancer may occur in Vitamin D deficient people. This is seen in countries that have a population used to wearing sunscreen and also milk drinking populations (Vitamin D is reported to be found in milk and dairy products- especially butter). Lets have a look at what it does, where you can get it from and why you may need it. As a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist I  look at all of my clients individual needs before prescribing any supplement or food changes. It is recommended that you consult a professional Naturopath or Nutritional therapist before making any changes yourself.

What does it do?

Vitamin D plays a big role in bone growth and development (hence why Rickets may come from a Vitamin D deficiency- interestingly more cases are being seen because our kids are not outside as much and when they are they have sunscreen on so the skin is unable to produce vitamin from the UV rays) and in the absorption of calcium (why most calcium supplements will contain vitamin D). It also lays a vital role in healthy teeth and gum repair. Taking it alongside vitamin A has shown to boost the immune system and is used in cases with asthma and allergies. It is used in many autoimmune diseases, works by helping to maintain heart muscle action, blood-clotting and is very useful for those with Diabetes. It stops the over proliferation (over production) of cells so may be used by cancer patients. It also plays a role in helping muscle spasms to relax.

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Where is it found?;

Vitamin D is stored in fat. This is one of the reasons that it may rise to toxic levels in your body. Unlike water soluble vitamins- fat stored vitamins do not get passed through your urine- they can be stored in the body and potentially clog up the liver. This is only really an issue if your body has a excess of fat, a insufficiency of nutrients necessary to break down and process the fat and also the mechanisms in place to utilise the fat for energy. Vitamin D also has several actions within the body which make storage necessary. It is made through the action of sunlight on your skin. It is also contained in eggs, oily fish (herring, tuna, cod, halibut), Fish liver oils (especially when fermented), butter and full fat milk (as it is stored in the fat- so skim milk doesn’t naturally contain it) and sprouted seeds.

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How do we Make it?-For the skin to produce Vitamin D from sunlight you need the following to be working together- the skin, bloodstream, liver and kidneys. The skin ‘catches the UV rays and converts then into a cholesterol which is then converted in the liver and kidneys. (5 ways to  be Safe in the Sun) The active form of Vitamin D is called D3 (which the kidneys will make) hence why we generally find this form in supplements. The darker your skin- the less Vitamin D you will produce. When Vitamin D is ingested, bile is needed to break down the fat it is stored in. A protein is then needed to carry it to the liver, where it is then stored till it is needed. The Vitamin D found in plant and meat sources is different because the fat they are in is different. Both plant and animal sources can be used – however the one contained in animal fat resembles our own more closely so requires a little less to convert it.

What should we take it with?- Vitamin D is best taken along side Magnesium and Calcium for bone and muscle health. However new studies suggest that Vitamin D must be taken with Vitamin K2 to maximise Vitamin D and Calcium’s roles and absorption.

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