Ever feel like your body hits a plateau? Like you're ticking all the boxes... workouts = check, daily greens = check, meditation = check but still have the feeling that there's something out of balance. Enter supplements!
I'm a huge fan of getting vitamins + minerals from whole foods but every once in a while I revisit supplements to bridge the gap when my body tells me it's time. Coincidentally these two are are excellent for almost everyone and must haves if you're trying to lose a few lb's. Lack of Vitamin D can send your body into fat storage mode. Ack! As the fall envelopes us and winter sets in Vitamin D can become REALLY important!
Vitamin D + Magnesium
Most of us are not getting enough these precious substances; in fact, in the United States approximately 70-80% of people are deficient in magnesium. Statistics for vitamin D deficiency range widely from 30-80% of people being deficient. Some of the variation in these numbers may be attributable to what levels each study used as their marker for optimal levels and the time of year that levels were tested.
In order for your body to properly absorb vitamin D, it also needs to have enough magnesium, as well as other co-factors such as vitamin A, vitamin K, zinc and boron. In turn your body can’t adequately absorb calcium without adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium supplements can actually deplete levels of magnesium. Our bodies are so complex!
Why We Need Them
Along with a B-complex, vitamin D and magnesium are part of my everyday routine because they are important for so many basic functions + general good health.
Vitamin D has anti-cancer effects, reduces depression + improves mood, reduces the chances of diabetes, and benefits all of the following:
- Immune system
- Cardiovascular system
- Respiratory system
- Muscle function
- Brain development
- Reproductive system
- Bone health
Magnesium is essential to all of our organs, and is essential for the process of turning our food into energy. It also:
- Helps regulate our blood pressure, heart beat and blood sugar levels
- Relaxes our nervous system
- Regulates melatonin levels and improves sleep
- Relaxes tight and/or achy muscles and reduces tension headaches + migraines
- Helps with absorption of other vitamins and minerals
- Keeps the body hydrated and energized
- Balances pH levels
Signs of Deficiency
For both vitamin D + magnesium you can be deficient without any overt symptoms. With a vitamin D deficiency, you may experience general aches, pains and tiredness. Vitamin D Deficiency has also been linked to: brittle bones, asthma, cancer, high blood pressure, depression, diabetes (both I + II) and Alzheimer’s disease. Magnesium deficiencies may express as muscles spasms, cramps, anxiety, seizures and irregular heart rhythms.
To find out if you are deficient in D, you can either see your doctor for testing or order a kit online. Magnesium tests are not terribly accurate so they are rarely done. If your D is low, it's like that your magnesium is low as well.
Why Are We Deficient?
Vitamin D deficiency happens for three reasons:
- Not enough sunlight: either from spending too much time inside (hello! desk job), not exposing our skin to sunlight either through the use of sunscreen or clothing, seasonal darkness or living too far from the equator.
- If you are pregnant, dark-skinned, obese or very thin it is harder for your body to absorb + process vitamin D.
- It is really hard to get enough from food alone though I do make sure to eat Nutritional Yeast to help.
It is easier to get magnesium from food, but most of us still do not get enough.
How to Get Your Levels Up
You can increase vitamin D by increasing the exposure of your skin to sun. Don't go crazy, just 10 - 20 minutest per day during peak sun hours is a good start. Try taking a walk on your lunch break when the sun is out. (Side note: Make sure you check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to safe sunscreen).
You can increase magnesium by increasing your intake of leafy greens (Kale Yeah!), nuts (cashews + almonds), seeds (flax, pumpkin + toasted sesame), whole grains, avocados, seaweed, beans (black + pinto) and wild fish (salmon, halibut, sardines).
If you are truly deficient, consider taking supplements in addition to food sources. The Recommended Dietary Allowances set forth by Food & Drug Administration are lower than many experts believe to be optimal levels (600 IU of vitamin D and 300-400 mg of magnesium per day). The Vitamin D Council recommends 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 and 500-700 mg of magnesium daily.
There are several forms of magnesium available. Magnesium oxide, which is the most common type that you will find at Costco and grocery stores, is extremely hard for your body to actually absorb. I have seen statistics that said its bioavailability rate is as low as 3%. These forms have the highest bioavailability (doesn't that word sound really serious!):
- Citrate (choose this type if you tend towards constipation, as it will loosen your bowels).
- Magnesium Glycinate (choose this type if you tend towards looser stools or diarrhea, as it will not affect your bowel movements).
Keep in mind that the amounts that you need from supplements may vary depending on your current levels, the time of the year and how much you are getting from food sources. For more information, including the very rare condition of vitamin D hypersensitivity, the Vitamin D Council is a great resource.
p.s. best email ever about the power of greens! I LOVE getting these!
"I'm still eating my greens--and I can totally tell a BIG diff when I eat them (vs. when I don't). Who knew?!!? ...Never before in my life have I come home with so many bags of greens that I am CERTAIN will not go to waste!" - Chariti
How's it going with greens in your world? Getting in a dark leafy green per day? Willing to try? Promise it will change your world!
Here’s a look at what’s coming up next:
- Veg Pledge is the next food challenge! Join me for five days filled with whole food goodness beginning Monday, November 4th – Friday, November 8th! I’m crazy excited about it! Loads of recipes, a shopping list + the support of a loving community! Expand your current menu + give your body some veggie lovin! $27 Read more here. Register here.
- Group Coaching! Join the next group coaching session to Thrive Through the Holidays beginning Nov. 11th + going into the new year. More info here. Register here. As a bonus, you’ll receive 1 free spot in the next session of Sweet Surrender to gift to anyone you’d like! It’s all about spreading the love!
- Sweet Surrender 10-day Sugar Detox Dec 1 – 10th! Get loads of support + balance in place in perfect timing before the Christmas/ New Year holidays! Info + registration here.