In real food circles you will hear all sorts of varying opinions about supplementation. Some claim that if your diet is healthy enough you will never need to supplement. Others (like myself) feel that supplements can close some nutritional gaps and fix deficiencies and are therefore beneficial. I think the key thing to remember is that supplementing with various vitamins and minerals does not excuse us from trying to eat as healthy and as nourishing as possible. It merely gives us an edge in a world where soil is nutritionally depleted, farming practices are shady, and foods are less nutritious than they used to be. I choose to tackle the issue of nutritional deficiencies from both sides…healthy, nutrient dense foods that are grown as responsibly as possible AND nutritional supplementation.
With the above mentioned challenges it is easier than you might think to be missing some key nutrients from your diet, even if you think you eat pretty healthy. If you are eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) than the news is even worse. Here are 5 common nutrients that many of us miss and steps we can take to fix these deficiencies.
Calcium – We don’t just need calcium when our bones are growing. We need it throughout our lives to keep our bones strong. A huge part of this is exercise and strength training, which many people make less time for as they get older. We can get some calcium from dairy products as all the magazine ads for milk would have us believe but we do not need low fat dairy and we probably consume too much milk/dairy. Try getting most of your calcium from leafy greens (spinach, collards) vegetables (broccoli), nuts, and seeds.
Magnesium – Calcium and magnesium actually go together like peas and carrots so if you are deficient in one than you are likely deficient in the other because they work as a team to build strong bones and flexible muscles. A magnesium deficiency can actually cause all sorts of problems. In fact, it regulates more than 325 enzymes in the body and the most vital of those are ones that help to produce, transport, store, and utilize energy. You can get it from leafy greens and veggies, nuts, and seeds (just like calcium). Because absorption can be problematic a supplement is never a bad idea and a topical oil is also very handy.
Vitamin B12 – Many of us are B12 deficient…some studies have shown about 40% of us have below optimal levels. It is tied directly to the health of our nervous system as well as red blood cell production. Those at greatest risk are plant based diet supporters because B12 can ONLY be found in animal products. This is probably why anemia is so common among vegans. The best sources are clams, fish, and liver meats. Because a leaky gut can make it hard for even meat eaters to get enough B12, a supplement may be in order.
Vitamin D – This all important vitamin helps with bone health, immunity, and it lowers our risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Very few foods in nature contain Vitamin D though. The best sources would be fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel. Small amounts are in beef liver and eggs yolks. Other than that your best bets are lots of regular sunshine, a 600 IU a day pill, and/or cod liver oil.
Vitamin E – This one is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals and reduces risk of certain cancers but because of the fat phobia that exists many are missing out. Good sources include nuts and seeds, nut butters, leafy greens, broccoili, red bell peppers, and seafood.
It’s a good idea to think about nutritional deficiencies when doing your meal plans so you can try and tackle them to the best of your ability and make sure certain foods appear each week. I would also not be afraid to close some gaps with supplements if you feel inclined. It is easier than ever to access supplements in your local health food stores or you can buy vitamins online from Golden Glow or other reputable sources. Most of us agree that our health is our wealth so making sure we have all our nutritional Ts crossed with a good diet first, then with a little outside help, just makes good sense.
Love this video. Apparently there was a world changing dreams contest called the IF WE CHALLENGE and contributions were collected globally. This video illustrates three of the dreams collected…one from India, one from the US, and one from Canada.
The third one was a bit out there…kinda made me think of Wall-e. The first two though, I was wondering why in fact we don’t already have something like this in place. Great ideas. What do you think?
IF WE can ask the right questions, we can change the world.
I have already seen a huge surge of parents on my Facebook feed talking about their kids being sick after only a few days or weeks back at school. Such is life. Kids go back to school, they make new friends, they meet their new teachers, and they come home with less than exciting new illnesses. With so many children in one place if one of them has a runny nose and cough then logically many will end up with it. What can you do?
Well, actually there is quite a bit we can do to prevent illness by strengthening our children’s immune system and their capability of fighting off germs and bugs. If you need ideas I have plenty in my article 15 Ways to Boost Immunity and Keep Illness Away Without Vaccines. The natural mom actually has quite a bag of tricks at her disposal. In that article I discuss everything from air purifiers, to probiotics, to herbs, and which common foods actually lower our defenses and open us up to illness.
What though when your kids get sick anyway. It happens. There are holistic solutions for dealing with those little ups and downs too.
Cold/Flu – Give your kiddos plenty of warm liquids and fluids such as bone both. Also give them an immunity boost with elderberry like Sambucol. You can also make your own pretty easily. Other than that…lots of rest and steamy showers will help them ride it out comfortably. If they are congested put a few drops of peppermint essential oil in their shower and that will clear the sinuses right quick.
Pinkeye – This is a common childhood ailment but it can be very uncomfortable and irritating. Apply chamomile tea bag compresses, as hot/warm as you can get them. This is antiviral and antimicrobial. You can also use Boiron Homeopathic Eye Drops and their Pulsatilla orally to help with discharge.
Head Lice – Ew! Few things are as gross, in my opinion, as bugs that live in your hair but this is another common problem that school age children must face. Let’s just hope you catch it BEFORE it spreads to the whole family. Luckily you can treat it with natural ingredients such as coconut oil and essential oils. I have a homemade lice shampoo recipe you might want to try. LiceMD Lice is also an effective store bought brand that does not use pesticides. It is a way better option that most others on the market.
Ear Infections – Because of their anatomy children are more susceptible to ear infections. Also popular diet staples such as sugar, diary, grains/gluten, and soy can help things along. To treat, work on cleaning up their diet and use the soothing herbals found in Gaia Kids Ear Drops.
Fever – If your kiddos have a fever then rejoice rather than panic. Their body is already on top of the situation and is fighting off whatever bug they have. Fevers are GOOD. We don’t want to give them any conventional meds that will break that fever, rather we just want to make sure they are comfortable. They need rest and fluids primarily and Aconitum Napellus can help them sleep.
I know every parent gets frustrated and perhaps a little worried when their littles get sick but with a little planning and a little trust…we can use natural methods to help them ride these ailments out.
There are so many benefits and uses for aloe vera that you would think it is some kind of super plant. Well, if you want the truth, it kind of is. An aloe plant may not wear a cape and tights, but it is definitely capable of near miracles when it comes to healing cuts, burn, and other skin irritations. In addition, there are numerous health benefits of ingesting aloe vera juice (or gel in a capsule formula). It’s nature’s wonder drug and the reason why I have half a dozen aloe plants growing in my home all year long. They are really easy to grow and really beneficial to have on hand so why not??
Healing Uses for Aloe Vera
Aloe is awesome for healing all kinds of minor skin aliments. Probably one of the most common uses is for sunburn. Using Aloe gel (98% pure or better) on sunburn will not only soothe the sting of the burn, but will re-hydrate the burned skin and, if used liberally, can prevent your skin from blistering and peeling. It can be applied fresh from the plant, sprayed on, and you can even use freeze the aloe juice/gel in ice cube trays and then use the cubes to rub on and soothe the skin.
But the uses of Aloe Vera gel are not limited to sunburn. This wonder plant is also excellent for soothing and promoting the rapid healing of regular minor burns as well as skin rashes, cuts, insect stings, and has even been used to reduce the irritation of acne.
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera contains not only 12 vitamins and 20 minerals but also 20 amino acids and over 200 other active components which, together, can promote health and vitality for the entire body. The benefits of ingesting so many incredible nutrients can work wonders on the overall health of the body. Regular consumption can help you to stabilize your body weight, improve your immune system, increase your energy level, as well as help you to maintain healthy skin, teeth, and gums and even regulate your digestive system. I drank it liberally while I was undergoing treatment for colon cancer. Since I was on some pretty horrible pharma drugs at the time I figured my body needed all the TLC it could get. That was seven years ago.
How to Use Aloe Vera
While you can buy aloe vera gel for burns and cuts in most drug stores and can pick up a bottle of gel capsules while you are browsing the aisles, the simplest and best way to get the full use of the aloe vera plant is to grow your own.
Aloe Vera plants are easy to grow and mean that you always have a ready supply should you need it. Simply break off a piece and squeeze out the gel for minor cuts, burns and scrapes. Ingesting is fresh can be a little more complicated since you want to avoid the yellowish liquid that lies between the pure inner gel and the outer skin. In fact, consuming this yellowish liquid can cause stomach upset so you have to be careful if you are preparing gel to drink. Another downside to the consumption of fresh aloe is that it has to be used immediately or it loses many of its nutrients and healing properties due to oxidization.
No Matter How You Slice It
The uses and benefits of aloe vera are many and varied. While fresh aloe is purer and more potent than over-the-counter varieties, the fact remains that no matter how you use it, it can work wonders for your health and give you relief from so many minor skin irritations, burns and cuts that having some readily available is like having a magic wand in your pocket.
Today kicks off Follow the Frog Week. What exactly is that you ask? Well, basically this initiative comes to us from the Rainforest Alliance and it is a week-long campaign that encourages individuals and businesses to celebrate sustainability by taking even one small step toward a greener lifestyle. There is actually a little green frog on numerous products such as coffee, tea, chocolate, flowers, paper and wood products that signify these are better choices for the planet.
Have you seen the frog? Is he hoppin at your home?
Why should we care?? Just because you don’t see the consequences of your actions, doesn’t mean there aren’t any. In fact, we’re losing forests at a rate of 32 million acres per year — that’s equivalent to one football field every 78 seconds. Helping to protect forests and support communities worldwide can be as simple as looking for the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal and the Rainforest Alliance Verified™ mark.
I love this video that was just released illustrating what happens when dad does the grocery shopping and doesn’t Follow the Frog. Every purchase has an impact and if we actually saw the consequences in our own neck of the woods we might be just a little more vigilant. What do you think?