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 (broccoili), 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.
This weekend only get the awesome Kindle version of the book The Family Camping Handbook: Real Food in the Big Woods written by Katie of Kitchen Stewardship, absolutely free. It’s an awesome book and I highly recommend it if you have trouble coming up with REAL food ideas when you go camping or traveling.
What are some of the common camping foods? Canned beans, ramen noodles, hotdogs and white bread buns, pop tarts??? We cannot buy those easy but nutritionally devoid items and call them food. This book gives us some great alternatives that are just as easy to cook up while camping and yet they are actually food. Enjoy!
The bundle for the week is all about pregnancy and baby care and they are the perfect book choices for more natural and conscious mothers and mamas-to-be. In this bundle of five you get…
Healthy Pregnancy Super Foods – We all know how important it is to eat right for your own health but also the health of your unborn baby and your nursling. This book addresses certain nutritional powerhouse foods that you can eat to help you get maximum nutrition.
Fearless Birth – Many times pregnancy and birth can be a source of great fear and anxiety. This book has tips and tricks to helps you let go of all that an approach your delivery with confidence and peace.
Unbound Birth – I especially love the concept of this book! It is all about having a natural birth in a hospital setting. For some women (I was one of them), a hospital is preferred and yet they still want to keep some measure of control and deliver naturally. It can be done with the proper preparation, planning, and support.
The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year – Another awesome subject for a book. There is no reason why we have to buy the latest and greatest gadgets or go into debt buying stuff for a baby. They actually need very little and this book discusses avoiding the trap of too much baby stuff, and slowing down to enjoy the early months with your new baby.
Breast to Bib - This one offers advice on how to transition your child from breast to REAL food.
I consider myself fortunate that I did not grow up on hoards of processed foods. My mother was very much the all American farm girl who slept in the barn with her pony whenever she could get away with it and ate farm fresh foods each night. When she moved away from Ohio to the urban sprawl of Phoenix, Arizona with her young family she fed us the same types of foods that were cooked on the farm. We also adopted some of the eating habits of the Southwest too which meant seafood (crab legs, fish) and lots of Mexican food but for us that did not mean Taco Bell. That meant Chimichangas cooked from scratch. My siblings and I developed adventurous palates and we grew up on REAL food. We ate very little that came out of a box.
Even back then this was radically different than what my friends ate. Most of them ate straight from boxes…macaroni and cheese, tuna helper, hamburger helper, Bisquick pancakes, boxed cornbread, and beans from a can. Pretty much all of them loved coming to my house to eat – where the pancakes were made from scratch and the ice cream churned in a silver bucket into something way more delicious than what you get from a half gallon tub at the grocery. I still hear from old friends that claim to be making my mom’s fondly remembered recipes for their own families now. I highly doubt anyone is that nostalgic about Hamburger Helper. Real food nourishes us, it creates community and fond memories, and it provides a healthy legacy for us to pass on.
But what if you didn’t grow up on real food? What if you grew up eating out of a box and can with meals from fast food eateries thrown in for convenience, as so many have and still do??? What if combining spices or making slow cooked meals seems too complicated? Well, that is sadly the pickle that many face but I am hopeful that the tides are turning and more people are wanting to return to the days of real food and cooking from scratch from real and identifiable ingredients. Even I know how easy it can be to just buy that can of cream of mushroom soup or the onion soup mix instead of making your own but if we want to reclaim our health we MUST reclaim our food.
This is why I was so excited to see a new book from Kitchen Stewardship (whose other books and web site I adore) called Better Than a Box. It is a great resource for those that want to include more real foods in their diet (and are a wee bit lost) and for those that already cook real foods but miss their old favorites that came from a box. It is way more than just a recipe book or cookbook - it’s a tutorial in real food cooking, reverse engineering processed foods, and creative recipe development because we can ALL do so much better than a box.
In the first 100 pages you learn how to transform your old favorites that came from a box or a can into 100% real food. Think Stovetop Stuffing, tuna casserole, hamburger helper, french onion dip, and cheese enchiladas. It also teaches how to remake your favorite resources such as dry onion soup, bouillon cubes, chicken stock, Velveeta, bread crumbs, salad dressings, tortillas, and many others.
As the site boats: “We leave no can of cream of mushroom untouched. No box of Stovetop Stuffing is safe”.
Are you ready??
Right now there are two different ways you can buy and both are an absolute steal and these deals are available THIS WEEK ONLY…
I am busy, busy but I wanted to pop in and share this deal on Real Food ebooks from Kitchen Stewardship that are on sale for Black Friday. I have a couple of these are they are quite awesome…especially the Everything Beans book. I used it very often when I was vegetarian and using beans in my cooking each week.
Use the code BFRIDAYHALF for half off any of the already reduced eBook bundles. That means you could get all 4 eBooks, over $33 value, for $12.50 with the super pack, expires Friday 11/23 at midnight EST.
Hi there! I am a green, paleo, homesteading mom of three. I am concerned about health, wellness, and sustainability issues. This is my life. This what I am passionate about. Come get to know me and feel free to connect. Enjoy!