23 Jun Important Feel Good Nutrients
ALL WE NEED IS LOVE
The concept of “feel-good”, “loving”, or “meditative” nutrients may be a foreign concept to some, but it really shouldn’t be. In truth, nutrients such as vitamin C and magnesium – which we all need in higher amounts when experiencing any form of stress – are in-fact “pure love” and “pure nourishment” to a body (and soul) in need of extra nutrients.
These nutrients imbue (infuse) you with confidence, “good energy” and a positive mindset that can propel you forward to pursue your dreams, while bringing greater joy, appreciation, and a deeper sense of gratitude for this amazing gift of life. Remember this (though I’m sure I’ll say it again), the quality of our thoughts and often how we feel is a direct function of the quality of the food we eat and the nutrients we consume.
Think about how you feel after you’ve eaten some really good, nutrient-dense foods such as a juicy orange, fig, or watermelon, or a healthy egg breakfast. When you eat these foods, you’re getting a flood of deeply nourishing, mood-boosting, stress-reducing, “feel-good” nutrients – essential for energy production, healing processes, and healthy neurotransmitter levels that improve the quality of our thoughts, our mood, attitude, and our general state of well-being.
This may be a little “touchy feely” for some, but the truth of the matter is, we all need more of these “feel- good” nutrients now more than ever.
The reasons for this are many, but some of the main ones are:
- Increased nutrient requirements due to physical, mental, or chemical stress. Water-soluble nutrients such as the vitamin C, B-complex, Magnesium, Zinc, Sodium, Potassium, and Nutritional Lithium (an essential trace element) are all used up in greater quantity during times of greater stress.
- Nutrient depletion of our food and soil (has been on the decline since the 1930s/40s), and the consumption of “junk food” containing high amounts of refined sugar such as sodas, cakes, desserts, and other highly processed foods.
- Toxins in our food, air, and water increase our requirement for nutrients such as vitamin A, B-complex, C, E, D, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iodine, selenium, sulfur, lithium and quality protein, which serve protective roles in the body and assist with the removal of toxic heavy metals and other chemicals.
- Medications that rob our body of nutrients and destroy our good gut bacteria.
THE FOUNDATION FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Fresh air, clean water, and sunlight naturally support and boost our “feel good” neurotransmitter systems (e.g. serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, opioid/endorphin, and GABA). Along with these fundamental basics – there are important vitamins and minerals that are required for the proper functioning of these systems. For example, magnesium provides vital support to ALL of our primary, “feel good” neurotransmitter systems, and can provide an immediate boost to their activity by simple supplementation of 200-800 mg per day of well-absorbed forms of magnesium such as Mg-glycinate, Mg-taurinate, Mg-malate, or Mg-citrate, as needed.
IMPORTANT FEEL GOOD NUTRIENTS
Vitamin C – is a vitally important antioxidant nutrient for the brain and nervous system. So much so that the brain has a dedicated transport mechanism for boosting its levels of vitamin C – the sodium-dependent vitamin C transporter-2 (SVCT2). Following the adrenal glands, which need vitamin C for hormone production and antioxidant protection, neurons in the brain and nervous system contain the second highest concentrations of vitamin C in the human body. Neurons are especially sensitive to vitamin C deficiency because they have 10 times higher rates of energy metabolism than surrounding cells. Vitamin C is also essential for the production of L-carnitine, an important molecule in mitochondrial energy production, and serves a vital role in the production of feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters play a strong role in mood, energy, motivation, stress response, and alertness. Vitamin C is essential for the enzyme that converts the amino acid tryptophan to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Vitamin C also helps regulate and modulate other neurotransmitters like acetylcholine (memory, gut –brain connections), GABA (relaxation), and glutamate (wakeful/excitatory).
A sufficient intake of vitamin C is necessary for the health and formation of new neurons, while improving mood, stress resilience, and cognitive function. Vitamin C is depleted by all forms of physical, chemical, and emotional stress, exercise, pollution, smoking, heavy metals, and a wide-variety of environmental chemicals.
Recommended dose range: the requirement for vitamin C increases with all forms of stress, and when healing from trauma or illness. 500 – 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day is a beneficial daily dose for most people in the form of ascorbic acid, mineral ascorbates, or ascorbyl palmitate (a fat-soluble ester of vitamin C).
Magnesium – in modern industrialized nations, nearly 3 out of 4 people are deficient in magnesium, which can result in a myriad of symptoms such as chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, cognitive impairment, ADD/ADHD, tics, tremors, chronic pain, headaches, and sleep disturbances. Magnesium serves as an essential co-factor in over 300 enzyme systems in the body and is needed for the functioning of all of your “feel-good” neurotransmitter systems – endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and oxytocin – all need sufficient magnesium for their optimal functioning. Magnesium is depleted by a number of factors including chronic stress, traumatic brain injury or other traumas, heavy exercise, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, phosphoric acid in sodas, calcium supplementation, and certain medications.1-8
Recommended dose range: 200-800 mg/d of a highly-bioavailable form such as magnesium malate, taurate, glycinate, or threonate.
Zinc – is required for the function of more than 300 different enzymes in the body, which play a key role in healthy brain function, antioxidant protection, muscle building, healing, digestion, a healthy metabolism, and a strong immune system. Along with its “companion nutrients” magnesium, lithium, and the B-complex vitamins, zinc promotes healthy brain function, focus, concentration, mental alertness, and a healthy mood. Symptoms associated with zinc deficiency include: depression, learning difficulties, poor concentration, emotional and behavioral problems, sleep disturbances, fatigue, poor concentration, skin problems, depressed immune system and frequent infections, slow growth (in childhood), and delayed wound healing.
Recommended dose range: 15-30 mg per of a highly-bioavailable form of zinc such zinc glycinate, citrate, gluconate, or monomethionine (OptiZinc).
Trace minerals – such as zinc, chromium, selenium, iodine, and lithium serve an important role in mitochondrial energy production, a healthy mood (possessing “anti-stress” activity), healthy digestion, restful sleep, the production of neural growth factors such as BDNF, and for healing processes in the brain and nervous system. The trace elements zinc, iron, copper, chromium, selenium, lithium, boron, iodine, and molybdenum function as “protective shields” which bolster your body’s antioxidant defenses and shield you from a wide variety of heavy metals and environmental toxins. They’re needed for your body’s production of glutathione (the master antioxidant), and powerful antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and catalase which neutralize free-radicals and other toxins, while simultaneously reducing your oral absorption of heavy metals and promoting their excretion.
Recommended dose range: 100-400 mcg/d of chromium ; 15-30 mg/d of zinc; 100-400 mcg/d of selenium; 5-20 mg/d of lithium as orotate; 1-3 mg of boron; 75-250 mcg/d of molybdenum; 0.5-2 mg/d of copper; 150-450 mcg/d of iodine as kelp (or iodide). When it comes to benefits you can feel and getting the most out of the supplements you take, the best nutritional supplements provide trace elements in their most bioavailable forms – as stable, organic chelates – such as zinc glycinate, selenium glycinate (or high Se-yeast), and chromium polynicotinate (Cr bound to niacin).
B-Complex – work closely with magnesium (and other minerals) in thousands of biochemical reactions in the body. A suboptimal intake can result in fatigue, poor memory, difficulty concentrating, learning problems, ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, irritability, muscle weakness, and sleep disturbances. All growth and repair processes in the body require a plentiful supply of nutrients including the full-spectrum of B-vitamins, which includes thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folate (B9), cobalamin (B12), biotin, PABA, inositol, and choline. The last three are conditional nutrients, which are produced in the body and found readily in a variety of food sources. Folic acid, methyl-folate, and folinic acid are the forms of vitamin B9 most commonly available in supplements; since everyone is different, I recommend starting at a low dose (100-400 mcg) and seeing how your body responds to that particular form. Many people do better with one form versus another. Vitamins B1 – B12 are necessary for energy production, neurotransmitter biosynthesis, and the production of neuroprotective growth factors such as BDNF, which promote cellular health and the growth of new neurons.
Recommended dose range: this varies from person to person, especially with respect to higher doses of certain B-vitamins (e.g. niacin, pyridoxine) and the active, methylated forms of folate. Everyone is different, and I recommend starting with a low-dose and working your way up. If the serving size is 2 tablets, try half a serving for a week, and see how your body responds to the lower dose, and increase as desired. Remember, B-vitamins are “sparks”, balancers, and activators within our cells, and can give you energy, boost your mood, and reduce stress, if you’re running low.
Essential Fatty Acids – are needed for optimal health and well-being. The majority of our population does not get enough of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA), and get too much of the omega-6s found in corn, soy, and seed oils. Both DHA/EPA are important for healthy brain function and have beneficial effects on mood and cognitive performance. These fatty acids are often in short supply in the standard American diet unless you eat a good amount of fatty fish (e.g. salmon, sardines) per week. With respect to their brain-boosting effects, a 2014 study found that fish oils containing a higher EPA to DHA ratio resulted in greater neurocognitive benefits. Participants’ brains worked “less hard” (i.e. functioned more efficiently) in those who took the EPA-rich supplement versus the DHA-rich one. EPA is known to have greater anti-inflammatory activity than DHA, which may explain why EPA-rich supplements show greater benefit for the brain. Another important fatty acid is the omega-6 fatty acid, gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is found in trace amounts in green leafy vegetables and nuts, and higher amounts in breast milk, borage oil, and evening primrose oil. Like the omega-3 fatty acids, GLA has powerful anti-inflammatory activity, which benefits all body systems, and has been shown to be especially beneficial for the skin, brain, cardiovascular system, and joint health.
Recommended forms and dose range: 1,000-3,000 mg/d of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) and 70-500 mg of GLA is a beneficial daily dose for most people with higher doses especially beneficial for those with chronic inflammation, joint pain, a skin condition that needs healing, or have experienced a traumatic brain injury (e.g. concussion).
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