At the end of the day, in an ideal world, we would get all of our essential nutrients through our diets. Through real food. We cannot underestimate the balance of vitamins and mineral and necessary cofactors when we eat foods that honour our health.
When we learn about the power of food and how to balance our plates – there’s no better way to facilitate healing.
And although hundreds of studies have shown that organic food has substantially higher concentrations of antioxidants and nutrients than non-organic foods, sometimes, buying organic all the time and incorporating everything we need isn’t always possible. Whether this is because of financial reasons or just availability, we all have downfalls with our food, and sometimes, we must resort to micronutrition to keep up the incredible balance in our bodies. With that said, we also cannot overlook the impact of stress and how cortisol eats away at the gut wall, further minimising our absorption of nutrients.
There are others reasons why we tend not to reach our nutritional needs including: poor quality soil, diminishing nutrients in our food and water supply, how we transport and store food. Contamination of vegetables, fruits, and meat with pesticides, hormones, heavy metals, antibiotics, and food additives all diminish the nutrients we gain from food. Manufacturing processes, restrictive diets…you get the idea.
Then let’s not forget that sometimes our methylation processes get out of order. Our what?
Methylation processes are absolutely central to our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. It’s a biochemical process involved in almost all of your body’s functions. It is estimated that over 1 million methylation processes occur in every cell, every second, in the body. These steps are essential for the optimal function of almost all of our body systems.
Think of billions of little on/off switches inside your body that control everything from your stress response and how your body makes energy from food to your brain chemistry and detoxification. That’s methylation and demethylation.
By now you might be wondering what happens when this methylation process – gets derailed?This is where MTHFR and variations of this gene come into play. You may have heard of the term SNP? A SNP (pronounced “snip”), short for single-nucleotide polymorphism is the most common type of genetic variation among people. These gene variations—and each of us has several—can do a full-scale number on your body and your brain. They help determine whether you’re heavy or slim, sluggish or energized, depressed or optimistic, anxious or calm.
Research indicates that at least 60% of people have an MTHFR variation and they consequently have a decreased ability for folate conversion (the process doesn’t completely stop; it merely decreases by 40 to 80%).
If you have an MTHFR variation, your body is less able to use synthetic folic acid or folate, in the methylation cycle, which means you won’t get the benefit of the B vitamin cycle working optimally, and that can increase your risk for many of the health conditions outlined above. This does NOT mean we need to rush out and supplement with folic acid –we’ll discuss the downsides of folic acid later. . Luckily, we can help our dirty, sluggish or inefficient MTHFR genes by learning about methylation a process by learning how to clean up your genes, lighter the load on your genes and learn which foods support methylation.
Because methylation plays a role in:
- DNA expression
- Embryo development
- Cellular energy production
- Neurotransmitter synthesis
- Hormone production and metabolism
- Inflammation and immune responses
- Conversion of the amino acid called homocysteine into another amino acid called methionine; this helps keep cholesterol levels balanced and reduces the risk for cardiovascular problems
- Conversion of important nutrients from one’s diet into active vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
- Fat metabolism
- Stress response (“fight or flight response”)
- Detoxification processes, including of the liver, that helps eliminate heavy metals and toxins
Methylation also allows the body to make a number of other important molecules, including:
- Melatonin, which helps with sleep
- Serotonin, which regulates mood, appetite and more
- Norepinephrine, which is involved in arousal and motivation
- Glutathione, often called the body’s “master antioxidant” that fights free radicals
- Coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant involved in energy production and healthy aging
- Nitric oxide, which facilitates vacillation of blood vessels and circulation
- L-carnitine, an amino acid that supports metabolic processes and cellular energy
- Cysteine, an amino acid that helps make protein and form collagen in the body
- Creatine, needed for skeletal and muscle function
- Taurine, an amino acid that supports the heart, nerves and brain
Methylation is a big deal.
If you want to learn how to truly wrangle your health then join me in a course I created on Methylation – What the heck! Because supporting our genes is not just about taking an activated B vitamin or treating a SNP (gene variation) rushing out and doing this may create more health issues. There’s a process involved. One of those involves checking your homocysteine levels to see if your a good candidate or NOT for B vitamin supplements.
Sounds like a gimmick – “I’ll be fine Jen – Load me up with those activated B’s. I’ve read about how great they are!”
Yes they can be. I used to recommend them indiscriminately until I dove deeper into understanding methylation and why some people get results faster than others. For some people methylated B Supplements work incredibly well. For other peeps – they can load their methylation pathways even more.
If you know that you’re good to go with taking a B supplement I have outlined which forms of B vitamins to avoid and which are worth searching for.
Make sure you have a read of our blogs on methylation if you would like more information on the effects of poor methylation.
Supplements can be incredible, but some brands have sneaky, not-so-great ingredients that tend to be in the “AVOID” section when it comes to nutrition.
The most important thing to remember is that supplements are not a replacement for eating well. The definition of a supplement is; ‘A thing added to something else in order to complete or enhance it’, remembering that no supplement in the world can help you if your diet is full of inflammatory foods, sugar, and coffee, and your life is overflowing with stress.
- 95% of all supplements are synthetic.
- Natural supplements have a 36% higher potency than their synthetic counterpart does.
- Synthetic multivitamins are just that, synthetic. They do not occur in nature and therefore, their chemical compounds are technically not meant for us.
So yes, if you go into a store, see a multivitamin, and think to yourself, ‘this price is too good to be true’, you are probably right. It is worth splashing out on a good multivitamin to not only reap the benefits but also avoid some of the mild to severe effects of synthetic vitamins and minerals.
Here are some things to look out for that indicate that a multivitamin has been cheaply made, and their preferable substitute in reputable brands from FDA or TGA approved facilities.
|Folic Acid||Folate, (preferably Methylated (5-methyltetrahydrofolate)||Dark green leafy veggies, Beans, Peanuts, Sunflower seeds, Fresh fruits, fruit juices, Whole grains, Liver, Seafood, Eggs, Fortified foods|
|Vitamin B12 cyanocobalamin or adenosylcobalamin||Vitamin B12 methylcobalamin||Animal liver & kidneys, clams, sardines, beef, tuna, trout, salmon and fortified cereals, non-dairy milks & nutritional yeast.|
Magnesium stearate: a form of stearic acid which forms a biofilm in your intestines,
preventing the absorption of nutrients. This chemical suppresses your body’s
natural killer cells, harming your immune system.
|Magnesium in the form of citrate, glycinate or malate.||Most foods that contain fibre, leafy green veggies (spinach, legumes etc.), nuts & seeds (pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews).|
|Binders & synthetic colorants:
Magnesium oxide & zinc oxide (reduce bioavailability and absorption of vitamins.)
Titanium Dioxide: (whitener- hinders absorptions & increases SI inflammation) (colorant)-carcinogenic and linked to autoimmune disorders.
|No binders or colourants!
|Calcium only (no cofactors)||Calcium with magnesium, vitamin D3 & K2.||Seeds (chia, sesame etc.), cheeses (especially parmesan), yoghurt, sardines, canned salmon (thanks to edible bones), beans, lentils, almonds, whey protein, leafy greens (spinach & kale), rhubarb, amaranth, edamame, tofu, figs & milk (especially goats’ milk)|
|GMO’s (especially if you have an autoimmune disease or inflammation), Gluten, Soy, Dairy, Corn, Sugar.||Non-GMO ingredients, free from gluten, soy, dairy, corn & sugar.||Organic foods go without saying in this column, even better if its home grown with love!|
|Non vegetarian capsules made from gelatin (animal byproduct)||Vegetarian and/or vegan capsules made from vegetable cellulose. Actually, has incidental prebiotic effects.|
|Pesticides (cause leaky gut & other adverse health effects), food irradiation & GMO||Organic ingredients|
|Allergens & fillers (avoid any known triggers & inflammatory ingredients e.g. corn-derived fillers)|
|Hidden sugars (connected to inflammation, insulin resistance, leaky gut & obesity)|
|Carrageenan (avoid if you can) it is a vegan thickener derived from red seaweed, but it can contribute to GI stress and inflammation.|
Vitamin A: Retinyl Palmitate
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride
Vitamin B2: Riboflavin (not natural)
Pantothenic Acid: Calcium D-Pantothenate
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid
Choline: Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Ascorbic Acid
Vitamin D: Irradiated Ergosteral, Calciferol
Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate
dl-form of any vitamin
|Sodium selenate and sodium selenite (Can
contribute to reproductive and developmental problem)
|Carnauba wax: This is a chemical used in car wax and shoe polish|
|Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): This is the classic toxin disguised as “natural flavours” in supplements|
|Sodium Benzoate: (preservative, stabilizer & smoothener)
It can be carcinogenic (benzene) in presence of vitamin C, light, heat & prolonged storage
Supplements that use fish e.g. fish oils, omega-3 supplements & marine collagen (we cannot avoid fish from consuming heavy metals unfortunately)
Also found in vegan protein powders and supplements occasionally so seek 3rd party testing.
|Instead, molecularly distilled supplements that ensure they have not been exposed to heavy metals.
|Strict vegans beware of:
● Vitamin D3: made from egg yolks & fish oils
● Gelatin: animal derived, used in hair, joint, bone & skin care products frequently
● Collagen: animal derived product
● Cysteine & L-cysteine: derived from hooves, feathers, or hair
● Bone meal: commonly found in calcium supplements
● Glutamic acid: ingredients commonly derived from animals
● Lactose: found in dairy products (fine for vegetarians, not vegans)
● Lipase: commonly comes from animal enzymes
● Propolis: derived from bees
● Tyrosine: derived from fish
● Vitamin A: commonly sourced from fish liver & oil
● Vitamins B12: commonly derived from microorganisms in the gut of animals
|Generally, supplements with a 100% vegan seal from a third party are credible but keep an eye out for some of the less credible ones that may contain some other pesky animal products.
● Vitamin D3 derived from lichen (will usually say it is vegan vit D3)
● Vitamin C can boost the body’s own collagen production
● Glutamic acid sourced from plants
● Lipase derived from plant sources (usually states this)
● Tyrosine can be derived from soy or seeds
● B12 is essential for vegans, so try to find one with a vegan label/seal