Not all vitamin and mineral supplements are created equal and for a variety of different reasons, some variations are just not absorbed into the body as quickly as others. For the benefit of your health, and that of your family, it is worth taking the time to find out which supplements or natural forms will have the most beneficial effects in terms of bio-absorption.
Vitamin D vs Sunlight
Ensuring we get enough Vitamin D is difficult at any age however for newborns it is even more difficult. Vitamin D drops are recommended to reduce rickets and help fight off childhood and adult illness. Rickets can cause soft and weak bones which can ultimately lead to fractures.
Vitamin D drops are recommended for babies to ensure this does not happen. Sunlight is the most biologically normal way for us to ensure we get enough Vitamin D.
Depending on where you live in the world 15 minutes of sunlight each day should be enough. (Note: Sunscreen is also not recommended for babies under six months of age)
To ensure that your newborn baby has enough Vitamin D in their system when they are born, make sure you get plenty of sunshine yourself prior to the birth. This will ensure that both you and your baby are healthy and there is enough Vitamin D in the milk supply to supplement your newborn daughter or son.
5-MTHF vs Folic Acid and Folinic Acid
With all the talk of folinic acid, folic acid and folate it is very easy to get confused; basically they are all forms of a water-soluble vitamin, Vitamin B.
- Folate occurs naturally in food such as peanuts, pinto beans, black eyed peas, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils, spinach, corn, liver and asparagus to name a few.
- Folate is important as it aids in the production and repair of DNA, red and white blood cells, and neurotransmitter production.
- Folic acid is the name given to the synthetic form which is generally found in supplements and fortified foods and recommended to pregnant women to avoid neural tube defects in babies.
In order for the body to take advantage of folic acid, it must convert it to folate, combine with a methyl group which will ultimately become 5methyltetrahydrofolate (MTHF). However some people have a MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) mutation which means that their body doesn’t activate the folic acid so they are more susceptible to sensitivities, allergies, blood clots, strokes and depression.
While scientists are still looking into how this excess may negatively affect the body, there is some school of thought which links it to an increase in various cancers and immune dysfunction. With the increase in fortified foods, we are very much at risk in exceeding the healthy folic acid limit necessary for our bodies to thrive.
- Folinic Acid is a form of folic acid (also known as calcium folinate) which bypasses some of the steps to covert to MTHF. However similarly with Folic Acid if you have a MTHFR mutation then you will struggle to metabolise the acid into your system. Folinic Acid is commonly used to treat cancers.
If you do have a form of the MTHFR mutation then ideally you need to look to a form of 5MTHF or methylfolate. Methyfolate comes specifically from uncooked leafy greens or from supplements and is more beneficial for those with the MTFHR mutation.
Heme vs Non Heme Iron
Iron is naturally present in many foods and comes in two forms, heme and non heme. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin and comes from pork, red meat, fish and poultry. Non heme iron is plant based and found in food sources such as vegetables, grains, iron fortified cereals, lentils and beans.
Heme iron is actually absorbed easier than non heme iron and its absorption is not affected by other things you eat. Absorption of non heme iron can be affected by the intake of milk, eggs, tea, peppermint, chocolate, chamomile, coffee and minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium. Adding Vitamin C into your diet will help with the absorption of non heme iron as will the consumption of both heme and non heme iron sources simultaneously.
Magnesium Salts and Oils vs Oral Supplements
For many of us our daily magnesium intake is less than the recommended daily average which is not good news for our bones, our heart or our nervous system. Luckily for us when it comes to magnesium we have a number of options and it is fairly easy to correct. Magnesium can be consumed by our food intake – foods such as nuts, beans, brown rice, whole grain breads and green leafy vegetables.
Magnesium bath salts are a preferred method for many as they are designed to deliver magnesium through the skin for rapid cell absorption. For those with sensitive skin, bath salts may be a preferred choice over magnesium oil which is a concentrated form absorbed through the skin. Transdermal options such as salts and oil are preferred by many as there are no negative symptoms such as diarrhea associated with it.
Magnesium supplements taken orally are passed through the digestive tract however it does vary in terms of the absorption rate – anywhere from 4% to 50%. Oral supplements include mineral salts of magnesium, magnesium chloride, magnesium acid complexes and amino acid magnesium chelates, the most expensive of them all.
With any supplement it is worth knowing your options before you start taking something to help with your diet. When in doubt, do your research, ask your doctor and seek advice from a nutrition specialist.