Question: I have always been interested in natural remedies and I enjoy watching your show. I have to admit I am just getting around to inquiring about what I should be doing for prevention, as I am pretty healthy at 45 years old and not on any medications. Are there standard supplements you recommend for most people?
Answer: In my last column two weeks ago, I mentioned the vitamin D in an oil base, omega 3 ideally produced without oxygen and minimal heat and magnesium amino acid chelate.
There are other minerals that are frequently deficient in people’s diets such as iron, zinc, selenium and iodine.
Iron deficiency can cause feelings of being chilled, fatigue, poor healing, lower resistance to infection, poor sleep, restless legs, heavy menstrual flow and poor growth in children.
Iron deficiency is diagnosed by checking ferritin stores with optimal being at least over 40, while other recommendations are over 80. Never supplement iron unless you are deficient as you may have excessive stores and not know it. Iron is damaging to your liver, pancreas and heart if you have too much.
I prefer iron amino acid chelate because the form of iron has the best rate of absorption if you do supplement.
Zinc deficiency can manifest as poor immunity, poor wound healing, white spots on nails, hangnails, poor skin elasticity — stretch marks being an example of that — an enlarged prostate, low testosterone and loss of taste and smell.
Just six oysters have 33 mg, a 3-oz rib eye filet has 18 mg and a cup of pumpkin seeds has 7 mg of zinc. We need a minimum of 15 mg of zinc per day, but RDIs for nutrients have not been re-evaluated and adjusted in many decades. Zinc and copper need to be maintained in a 20:1 ratio, so those who supplement over 30 mg per day should seek guidance from an ND. I prefer a zinc amino acid chelate as opposed to zinc citrate because of superior absorption.
Selenium deficiency is more common in people who live on coasts because of lower soil content. It is commonly given to sheep and cattle. It is a necessary co-factor for your major detoxification pathways and to limit the production of inflammatory leukotrienes which contribute to allergies, asthma and other inflammatory states.
There is no RDI but recommendations are around 200 mcg per day. A few Brazil nuts will provide that, and salmon is a good source. For those who do not consume those foods, selenium amino acid chelate 200 mcg per day is a good dose.
Iodine is needed for proper thyroid hormone production, thyroid and steroid hormone receptor function. Iodine is high in shellfish and seaweed and there is some in iodized salt but it is not a very good source.
Interestingly, Japanese people consume 100 times the amount of iodine we do in North America and have the best health statistics. Paint a dime size patch of iodine tincture on your abdomen and if it is still visible in 24 hours you have adequate iodine stores. However, most find it fades well before 24 hours. Kelp tablets and iodine supplements are the best supplements and higher doses should be under the guidance of an ND.
Stay tuned as my response continues as I touch on the importance of the B vitamins.
Kali Simmonds, ND is a doctor of naturopathic medicine who practises in Charlottetown. The information provided is not intended to diagnose or substitute the advice of your healthcare professional. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes. She welcomes questions for this column, which is published every second Tuesday in The Guardian. She can be reached by mail at 34 Queen St., Charlottetown, C1A 4A3, or by email at email@example.com.