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We all know that a balanced diet is our absolute best source in getting the essential nutrients that our bodies require. But the truth is that most Americans are deficient in some aspect when it comes to their nutritional needs. For example, recent research has shown that up to 25% of premenopausal women consume less than half of the recommended usage of iron and more than half of us are deficient in magnesium and calcium. Additionally, Vitamin D deficiencies are skyrocketing in America and this opens the door for a variety of different conditions. When we become deficient in a vitamin or mineral, our cells become altered enough to invite all different types of conditions and diseases, especially cancer.

Dr Bruce Ames, who is a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Cal Berkeley, performed studies at Children's Hospital in Oakland, California and came up with some amazing results. When cells are grown so that one of the vitamins or minerals is limited, the chromosomes of the cell undergo serious damage and these changes are linked to the development of cancer. Other findings included that low levels of folic acid are linked to breast, pancreatic and colon cancers, Vitamin B6 or biotin deficiencies are linked to colorectal cancer, Vitamin D deficiency is directly related to colorectal cancer and may double the risk for prostate cancer, and low zinc levels will increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

How does this occur? When we become deficient, this disrupts the normal functioning of the cell's mitochondria (the part of the cell that converts the fuel we get from our diets into energy) and this will produce free radicals, which directly effect cellular aging. Of course, this leads to premature aging, degenerative diseases and the cancers discussed above.

Your best defense in all of this is to take a solid multivitamin. Not just any kind but one that you know will be bioavailable (absorbed in the body) and one that is not synthetically or man made. Research needs to be done before taking a supplement to make sure you're not taking something that is useless to the body or maybe even causing a toxicity issue.

Other considerations:

-Calcium and/or magnesium: Make sure to find a product that offers a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium.

-Vitamin D: This is such an important topic that I feel most people just don't take serious enough. The perception of Vitamin D is that it is just important for "strong bones".  Nothing could be further from the truth because Vitamin D is the only known substrate that produces multiple effects on the body, meaning it serves multiple functions in gene regulation of the body. Each cell in your body has DNA in it, which contains vital information that is needed to deal with every stimulus that it encounters. This is all regulated by activated Vitamin D. This is the reason why Vitamin D is in so many of our body's tissues and why so many chronic and degenerative diseases may occur if there is a deficiency.

Researchers are finding that people with the lowest averages of Vitamin D had a 124 % greater risk of dying from all causes and a 378% greater risk of dying from heart disease!

Here is another amazing fact about Vitamin D and its relation to breast cancer. Calcitrol, which is the active form of Vitamin D, induces a tumor suppressing protein that actually slows down the growth of breast cancer cells. It should be no surprise to learn that most breast cancer patients are Vitamin D deficient.

So how much do we actually need? The current recommendation is 35 IU's of vitamin D per pound of body weight (Ex: an adult who weighs 180 pounds would require about 6300 IU's). It is important to remember that this will sometimes vary depending on a person's skin tone, their location and how much sunshine they are getting.

The best way to find out if you are Vitamin D deficient is through a blood test, primarily the 25 (OH) D, which will give you your most broad results.

Krill Oil:  This is going to be one of your best sources of getting Omega 3 fats into your system. Why not regular fish oil or cod liver oil? Fish oil is typically low in antioxidants and as you consume more fish oil, the body is going to need more antioxidant protection. The reason is because fish oil is highly perishable and it can oxidize in the body, creating the formation of unhealthy free radicals.

Krill oil contains 47 times the amount of antioxidants then regular fish oil!  Combined with phospholipids (which dramatically increase its absorption level) and omega 3's, you are getting healthy fats that won't cause any oxidation issues after consumption. Additionally, many of the fish oils sold today are contaminated with toxic chemicals and metals.

Collagen: Collagen is the largest and most abundant protein in the body and as we age, collagen production drops way off and all of our body systems can be seriously affected. In the organs, decreased collagen causes instability and weakness. Organs like the heart and prostate may enlarge; other organs just get weaker. For this type of degenerative problem, drugs rarely work.

Why does collagen production decrease? Hormonal changes, drugs, alcohol, processed food, white sugar, radiation, fluoridated water, excess sun, nutritional deficits, dehydration, stress, trauma.

You know what else occurs when we lose collagen? You know the back of the arms that no matter what you do for exercise, it stays sagging? That's right, collagen breakdown.  Even more:

· the bones lose density.

· the joints and ligaments become weaker and less elastic.

· cartilage becomes thinner and weaker at the joints it is supposed to cushion.

· hair loses its wave or curl or thickness.

· organs may sag toward the floor (prolapse) and may result in malfunction.

· the heart weakens and enlarges.

· the liver and prostate may weaken and enlarge.

· the arteries weaken and are less able to resist plaque formation.

Good quality collagen can be absorbed by the body at a rate of 90%! Skin is made up of collagen and as we get older the production of collagen decreases making our skin saggier. This will typically occur due to loss in amino acids in the body. Hydrolyzed collagen will make up for this.

There are so many other beneficial supplements out on the market today but I feel that taking baby steps with supplementation is of utmost importance and not to overload as many people so frequently do.

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