Getting enough? You may think so.

At the Beauty Arcana we believe strongly in the power of vitamins and minerals. Despite what many news outlets may have you believe, we are for the most part as a population deficient in the vital nutrients we need for optimum health.  You may take some calcium here and vitamin D there, but in fact the human metabolism requires at least 30 specific micronutrients or compounds for its proper function. When we fail to get these- as many North Americans do- our overall health may be compromised, leaving us susceptible to disease and accelerated aging.

But mention this to any random person at an upscale Farmer’s market with a basket full of kale and the response may be “…well, I think we should get our vitamins and minerals from food. That’s the best way.” True, nutrients from food will always be ideal, but in this day and age with our modern methods of food production and over-farmed, over-sprayed, and under nourished soils, this may hoping for too much.

According to recent research, it seems that the consequences of vitamin or mineral deficiency can be quite serious, and the ramifications go far beyond just terrible hair and skin. We all have seen someone who looks like they need a good meal…. that pasty white pallor, lack of vigor that screams, “vitamin drip anyone”? It may be indicating that on a cellular level things are seriously awry.  Acute problems such as double strand chromosome breakage and failed DNA repair. But why should this be?


Calling Dr. Ames

Enter Dr. Bruce Ames and his Triage theory. Dr. Ames, an expert in the fields of nutrition and metabolism at the University of California at Berkley has theorized that what happens when we don’t get enough of the essential 30 vitamins or minerals or so, nature responds with what he refers to as a “Triage” mechanism. This theory posits that when you are low on any one vitamin or mineral (a vitamin is classified as something in the absence of which would cause a lab mouse to die) nature responds by rationing that particular micronutrient. Indeed, it is nature’s benefit to ration it or conserve it for what is absolutely necessary. So just as in war, care for the wounded are prioritized according to the severity of their condition. In the case of micronutrients, if the body doesn’t have enough to go around, it will go to where it is absolutely needed first for human survival.

So according to Dr. Ames, in the case of vitamin and mineral deficiency, nature trades long term health for short-term survival.  The body selects to protect those functions that will ensure your short-term survival, because that is what is most immediately important. For example, if you are deficient in Vitamin K, your body will use what little you have for the most essential processes needed for your survival ie. blood clotting. Without proper blood clotting function, many people would die. But if you don’t have any extra vitamin K in circulation, other important functions dependent on vitamin K and required for long term health cannot be addressed- cancer prevention, bone maintenance and health, artheriosclerosis prevention etc, etc. This is also the case with magnesium, a critical mineral that nearly everyone is deficient in. If you don’t get enough your body may use what it has at its disposal for ATP production (energy production within the cell) but will not have enough for DNA repair, enhancing memory or brain function, or helping you sleep at night. So according to Dr. Ames, when it comes to micronutrients, enough may be passable, but more is definitely better.


Quality Matters

When is comes to supplements or sourcing micronutrients from food, quality of course matters.  A vitamin C supplement with bioflavanoids (such as Camu Camu) will be superior to simple and inexpensive ascorbic acid.  But liposomal vitamin C will be superior to Camu Camu in terms of bioavailability.  Vitamin D from the sun is superior to vitamin D in supplement form; the former is water soluble in the body while the latter fat soluble.   Probiotics from live fermented foods will always be more effective in the body than that from a simple supplement. Dr. Ames and his Triage Theory are significant because we are reminded why taking supplements in addition to eating well is not only good but necessary for disease prevention and overall health and longevity. We need adequate amounts of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. Critical minerals (we discussed this in more depth here) such as calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, sodium, iron, magnesium and other 80+ trace minerals are also needed for cellular function. Add some healthy saturated fats not forgetting Omega 3’s for brain function. Our bodies are constantly attempting to repair and rebuild.  Let’s give it the tools necessary to do just that.