In my previous blog, I mentioned that there was only so much that diet can do in today’s society because food isn’t as nutritionally dense as it was even a century ago. To make sure that we are living optimally, there needs to be some supplementation to compensate for nutritional discrepancies. I don’t make generalities for all my patients because everyone’s metabolism is unique, but every person that walks through my door can benefit from foundational nutrients that we aren’t getting enough of in today’s society. The Foundational Five supplements would include a multivitamin/multimineral, omega 3 fatty acids, phytonutrients, vitamin D3, and probiotics.
Whenever there is any sort of dysfunction, it’s safe to say that there’s some sort of vitamin or mineral that an individual isn’t consuming or utilizing to the best of their ability. According to Dr. Mark Hyman MD, “A whooping 92 percent of us are deficient in one or more nutrients at the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) level… The RDA standard do not necessarily outline the amount needed for optimal health.” The RDA is the nutritional equivalent of minimum wage, and 9 out of 10 people aren’t getting the RDA of one or more nutrients. That means 90% of people are in poverty in some way nutritionally. The easiest way to help get out of nutrition poverty is taking a multivitamin/multimineral (a healthy diet of nutrient dense food is still important). That multivitamin/multimineral will help a person get the necessary cofactors to perform daily bodily functions and carry out enzymatic reactions.
Omega 3 fatty acid deficiency is another common issue with many Americans in today’s culture. Reason for that is corn is at the heart of conventional farming, which contains a lot of linoleic acid and is the precursor to the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid. Whether it is a corn-based and processed food item or meat that was corn-fed, that shifts the fatty acid profile within our bodies to more omega 6 based, which is pro-inflammatory. The grass fed and grass finished meat have more of an omega 3 fatty acid base, which is anti-inflammatory. High omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid profile ratios are also found in pasture raised chickens and wild caught seafood.
There are three well known omega 3 fatty acids, which are alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA and EPA are the most important and are the two I am referencing in this blog. There are many roles that these fatty acids are a part of (including cell membrane fluidity), but most importantly DHA is known for brain health while EPA is used for anti-inflammation with our body. The big problem about EPA and DHA is that large amounts of both compounds are only really found in fish, which the average American doesn’t regularly consume (even more so in the Midwest). So, consuming a fish oil will help balance out the omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid profile ratio, which should be close to 1.25:1.
Phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) are also important, because people in the United States aren’t consuming the ideal amount of proper fruits and vegetables today. Consuming a wide range of plants, in particular dark, leafy green vegetables, is the foundation to many healthy and highly researched diets, including ketogenic, Mediterranean, and Paleo diet. Healthy vegetables and fruits contain many compounds that work synergistically to elicit healthy responses within the human body, which is the premise for epigenetics. Epigenetics (meaning above the gene) is how the environment interacts with a person’s genetic code and expresses a certain response. So, if you put good in, you’re going to get good out (and same thing with the opposite). Phytonutrients are getting a lot of research done in the area of epigenetics, and there is new research coming out everyday on how phytonutrients impact health.
Vitamin D3 is vital in many physiological processes, including bone mineralization, hormone production/regulation, tumor suppression, blood sugar regulation, and many others. Vitamin D3 is produced within the human body, which involves the skin, liver, and kidneys. UV light is the actual trigger for endogenous vitamin D3, so a couple reasons why many people in the US are deficient is because they aren’t outside an adequate amount of time and the use of sunblock. Getting adequate amounts of sunlight year-round is actually impossible for people above the 37th parallel, because the sunlight during the winter months is diluted and doesn’t elicit a big enough response to produce adequate vitamin D3 levels. Supplementation is particularly important during the winter months, because it helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Probiotics are encapsulated bacteria that is supposed to inoculate the human intestinal tract and help promote gut health in the human host. The reason why probiotics are important is because humans have many environmental factors that disrupt the natural, healthy flora of the human intestinal tract and causes a dysbiosis. Those environmental factors include pesticides, antibiotics, medications, and other endocrine disruptors found in our food and water. The dysbiosis can result in many symptoms that many people in the US suffer on a daily basis, including constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, acid reflux, anxiety, depression, and many others.
By going through the reasoning to why I think everyone can benefit from these Foundational Five supplements, hopefully that will inspire change with at least one person in becoming proactive with their health. These Foundational Five supplements should be high-quality, because low-quality supplements might not necessarily do anything for you physiologically (and may even harm you). Health is an investment, and there are small steps people can take, like the Foundational Five, that will pay dividends in the long run.
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Papanikolaou Y, Brooks J, Reider C, and Fulgoni III VL. U.S. adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: results of an analysis using observational data from NHANES 2003-2008. Nutr J. 2014; 13: 31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24694001
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About the Author
Dr. Eric Johnson, Doctor of Chiropractic and Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition as well as owner of Functional Wellness and Chiropractic Center in Madison, WI, is a functional medicine doctor that identifies root causes of pain and/or dysfunction. His systems-based, not symptoms-based, approach is a comprehensive, holistic approach that helps identify mental, chemical, and physical stressors that are underlying numerous health conditions. If you are in the Madison, Middleton, Verona, Waunakee area and looking to not only feel better, but live better, contact Dr. Eric at (608) 203-9272.