Wondering if you’re getting all the nutrients you need from your real food diet? Dealing with bothersome symptoms and wondering if it could be a micronutrient deficiency? Tune in to hear Ali and Becki take a deep dive into 3 specific micronutrients often deficient in the American diet: Magnesium, Vitamin C and Glutamine.
In this Episode Ali and Becki will break down what drives nutrient deficiency in the first place, from increased demand to medication depletions. They will discuss the main functions of each nutrient as well as common symptoms of deficiency and give food and supplement recommendations for repletion.
Also in this Episode:
- Vitamin C
- Additional Resources
Welcome to the Naturally Nourished podcast, that delivers cutting edge food as medicine solutions for optimum health. Ali Miller is a nutrition expert sought out by the media and America’s top medical institutes for her revolutionary functional medicine interventions. From disease treatment to prevention, every episode will empower you with ways to put yourself back in control of your health. Please note, the topics discussed are for educational purposes only. Now welcome integrative dietitians Ali Miller and her co-host Becki Yoo.
B: Welcome to the Naturally Nourished podcast. You are joining us for episode 72 and today we’re talking about micronutrient deficiency – specifically 3 common ones that we see clinically very often: magnesium, vitamin C, and glutamine. This is Becki here with Ali.
A: Hey everyone.
B: Now, when we talk about micronutrient deficiencies, we talk about this in some respect in just about every podcast, but we wanted to, today, just hone in and focus in on nutrient deficiencies that can be drivers of many disease states, as well as some of the bothersome symptoms that are associated.
A: Totally so as we use food as medicine as the foundation of our treatment plans with clients, it’s so important to be empowered and understand the role of micronutrients as how you can use them with food as medicine in an abundance approach, and also identifying clinical patterns of nutrient deficiencies when you’re trying to address the root cause of chronic symptoms. Often using micronutrient analysis, we can treat this as upstream medicine so we can see a whole myriad of symptoms and understand one potential driver as the root cause so focusing on those foods, and temporary supplementation to get them above water can be a really turnkey solution for clinical outcomes.
B: Yes and it is so cool how all of these seemingly unrelated symptoms will tie back to one or 2 specific nutrient deficiencies.
A: Yep. Yep.
B: Yeah. So we talked way back, it was episode 5, you did on 3 other nutrient deficiencies and really honed on how micronutrients get depleted in the first place, but I think that because that was so long ago we’re due for just a little bit of a refresher.
A: 72? I think so.
B: Yep so let’s get into, Ali, just briefly, how micronutrient deficiency occurs in the first place, even if we are eating a really good, whole food diet. How does this happen?
A: Yeah and I hear that all the time honestly because, the fact that we are a cash based practice and kind of a boutique functional food as medicine clinic, by the time people come to us it’s, you listeners of the podcasts, it’s people that are very proactive, and often people are saying, “you know, I eat a paleo diet, or I eat a whole foods based diet, how could I possibly be deficient in a micronutrient, you know? I’m eating all whole foods.” And the first thing to come to terms with is you might be experiencing increased demand and so increased demand can be based on physiological or mental stress so it can be, you know, the stress demand mentally from your work, or from a social relationship, we know we burn through a lot of B vitamins, for instance, as cofactors to neurotransmitters and another thing with stressed demand is we’ll see things like serine becoming depleted because phosphatidylserine is a regulator of cortisol and maybe even vitamin C, which we’re going to talk about today as a featured nutrient which is one of the main regulators of cortisol as well so there can be strain based on mental stress and then even physiological stress so like my marathon runners go through a lot of oxidative stress, you know? They’re running, they’re working with aerobic activity, especially with marathon runners in big cities where they have a lot of pollution and inhalants that they’re taking in, they’re going to have a lot of depleted antioxidants and maybe even amino acids from muscle breakdown and not having ample tissue repair from injuries from exercise.
So demand can be physiological and mental and another physiological thing to consider for a lot of our listeners is lifecycle chance, like carrying a child, being pregnant, breastfeeding for, like, a year after being pregnant. That’s huge depletion or demand on your body as far as drivers of deficiency so, increased demand is the first thing that I like to look at when I’m looking at micronutrient deficiencies because we always want to not only replete those deficiencies but we want to understand the “why” it’s occurring so we can address the root cause and correct that driver of deficiency. So another one to consider would be inadequate absorption or utilization so maybe we’re not able to use or absorb. So absorb could be for individuals that have had their gallbladder removed and so they don’t have that excess bile to help to emulsify and absorb fats. Or it could be an absorption based on someone that has a a lot of gut damage, maybe they have inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis or maybe they’ve been taking enced drugs like Aleve or Advil and they have a lot of gut damage from those medications, and then utilization can be beyond the absorption element, more of a metabolic or biochemical role and that comes down to typically, like, genetic SNPs like we talked about in the past couple of episodes, I think it was episodes 69 and 70 where we talked about, you know, methylations and some of those things so you might get folic acid but you won’t be able to use that folic acid if you have MTHFR, you need the 5-methyl tetrahydrofolate.
So especially when we’re talking about women who have increased demand when carrying a child, it’s absolutely essential that the prenatals would be in their most user friendly ability to use form which would be that methylated folate. So absorption and utilization are the second tier to consider when we’re talking about micronutrient deficiencies and then another thing to consider is just inadequate intake, So inadequate intake can actually be seen in the health conscious community based on an elimination diet or a restrictive diet when their dealing with inflammation or food plans that are very strategic for food sensitivity and inadequate intake could be seen on the other end of the spectrum with people that are vegetarian or have spiritual restrictions of intake and so if you’re not consuming the foods that are rich in, you know, x, y, z, fill-in-the-blank nutrients, that would definitely be a driver for deficiency as well.
B: Yes absolutely. And then I think the last one to really hit on here would be medication-related. So you mentioned maybe the NSAIDs causing some damage to the gut, but there are also medications that can derive deficiency as well.
A: Absolutely. So there’s a bunch of different classifications. One of my favorite to talk about is the statins drugs family so we, you know, most of those cholesterol lowering drugs they block an enzyme in the body, HMG coA reductase, and that enzyme that blocks the production of cholesterol also blocks the production of steroidal building blocks and that can drive low vitamin D, but the most direct connection is low CoQ 10 so we think of as, you know, CoQ10 as being a necessary nutrient to take as a supplement for anyone that’s on any statin drug, so whether it’s a generic like Simvastatin lor name brand like Lipitor, CoQ 10 would be a necessary supplement because that drug blocks a pathway so taking that drug at bed means we need at least 100-200 mg of CoQ10 at that breakfast to help compensate for that. We also think of other mitochondrial influencers which influence CoQ10 which can be antidepressants, a lot of different families of classification of antidepressants suppress CoQ10, as do hypoglycemic drugs like the diabetic drugs. Things like metformin can drive low CoQ10 and low B12 so they can be energy depleting for our body and drive deficiencies in that sense.
We see birth control as an overlooked one, but it drives s huge miriad from B vitamins, from B6 to folate to B12 and B3 and B1 and B2, magnesium, selenium, zinc, so we get a lot of deficiencies, and I think that when we’re talking infertility, the epidemic of infertility in our country has a lot to do with the fact that birth control is not always acknowledged as hormone therapy first and foremost, you know, that it truly affects your hormones and then B) it drives a lot of deficiency trends that support a healthy pregnancy and fertility so that’s something to definitely consider as well. And then antibiotics are going to hit the whole microbiome and can deplete electrolytes. We know diuretic drugs that treat blood pressure can drive a lot of mineral deficiencies and trends, and then there’s the antacids and proton pump inhibitor drugs which drive deficiencies of things like B12 and folate which is why we can see anemia in later age, advances age when they’ve been using those drugs for long periods of time so just passive things like TUMs and pepcid over time as adjusting the stomach acid, adjust the ability to absorb the nutrients from the foods so we can see B12, folate, D and then calcium, iron, and zinc and so we can get a lot of nasty stuff from that like osteopenia and osteoporosis and bone thinning and acute anxiety and panic from zinc deficiency so, definitely the drugs we’re taking can block pathways and that can be, in itself a reason for deficiency as well.
B: Awesome so lots of stuff to consider and absorb there. So before we get into our specific micronutrients, let’s just talk about when we’re working with someone clinically, when we might use something like a micronutrient panel. I mean, I’d like to run that on just about everyone if I could once a year but –
A: Yeah it’s kind of my annual go – to if people can afford it, and you know, without insurance the panel I think is $390 with a 15 minute review and so, yes, it is something to think about cost-wise but I love it as an annual assessment it really looks at – often we hear from patients “my doctor runs all these labs” and it’s like a comp and a CVC, TSH-
B: Everything’s normal I’m so healthy and then they run serum vitamin D maybe and we’ll talk about later why that’s not even the best indicator.
A: And then the patient’s hair is falling out and their anxious and they’re dealing with insomnia and stubborn metabolism and it all came down to being corrected with zinc or something and it’s really helpful. So, yes, I love this as an annual assessment I love to run this for individuals that are dealing with inflammation because nutrients play a huge role with inflammatory processes. I love to run this with individuals that are dealing with infertility so I alluded to how that can play such a big role with healthy follicular health and uterine health and hormonal balance. I definitely like to run this with all forms of dysmetabolic syndrome so whether we’re talking about heart disease or diabetes, and then the GI population, like i said, because a lot of those drugs are pretty nasty on blocking absorption of nutrients and a lot of GI conditions, that’s our primary base to absorb nutrients and so if we have GI inflammation, regardless of drug use as far as prescription drugs, we’re still going to have an ability to absorb so GI and within that would be food sensitivities and then people who are dealing with, kind of, what I call zebra conditions so beyond our neurological family of looking at things like Parkinson’s, MS, love to run it on that and even our bone and joint conditions, I like to look at even things like chronic fatigue and just healthy aging in transitioning and, again, because we can treat before a symptom arises which is so cool wsp when we’re looking at a patient’s lab results we often see 3 of the 10 symptoms being expressed and then there’s some that might be just before the iceberg peaks of perceiving the expression of that symptom, you know? So we can get ahead of the curve before the body shows that deficiency.
B: Yes I think that’s so amazing and empowering to hear for sure. Let’s talk about, actually, our specific – let’s get into our focus for today. So our 3 nutrients that we’re talking about-
A: Yeah so we’re not going to talk about all of them.
B: We’re not talking about all of them that would take forever, but we do promise to do another future episode and keep these if you guys like them so let us know for sure in your reviews and comments, but today we’re going to focus, like I said, on magnesium, vitamin C and glutamine. And for each of these we’ll get into the function of each nutrient in the body, symptom and disease states that are associated with deficiency, reasons they can be depleted in the first place, and then we’ll talk about restoration in terms of some really yummy recipes and foods to focus on as well as supplement recommendations if you are experiencing a bunch of these symptoms of deficiency.
A: Absolutely so I think this is the time to, like, put your seatbelt on, grab a notepad if you need to. We might be getting a little bit nerdy, get ready to push pause if you have to. I’m hoping that a lot of you while listening will have a a-ha moment or a ‘this is me’ and that this gives you a lot of tools in your toolbelt to replete or get above water form a deficiency trend that you may be experiencing.
B: Awesome so starting with magnesium, Ali, because I think this is probably the most common deficiency that we see chronically. Let’s start with talking about its function in the body.
A: So it has so many functions, it’s over – I believe, 300 different enzymes that it plays a role with activation, so it’s functions are essential to the body as far as neuromuscular activity. We think of magnesium deficiency causing things like tremors or tension and so it helps with neuromuscular relaxation which can even influence us on the level of blood pressure like vascular tension and dilation or release. It plays a huge role with our membrane transport and interactions both intra and extracellularly. It plays a great role with energy metabolism so the way that our body processes sugar, as far as it helps with the insulin function of the body and it helps with blood flow, which can help with dysglycemia or blood sugar imbalance and it definitely has roles in balance with calcium as far as firing for contraction and relaxation of muscles, and plays a big role with bone health as well. And we think of this what’s so interesting is I, when I started, you know, my research for The Anti-Anxiety Diet, I knew magnesium was big one that we think of with stress because, again, the muscle tension was the big thing that I would think of, and I didn’t know that it had, really, a direct role with cortisol regulation in the body and that ti has mechanisms with sleep and other metabolic processes that can really play a role on imbalance symptoms when stress depletes the magnesium in the first place. So it’s one of my big go-tos to help with mental and physiological relaxation,
B: Yeah and then there are so many other conditions or disease states that can be helped by just giving magnesium so let’s cover a couple of the main ones.
A: Yeah so like I said, I think anxiety is one to definitely mention and there’s been a lot of research studies on magnesium as a supplement and helping with hyperreactivity and also irritability and tension and so it’s definitely one to think of for, again, mood stabilizing effects. And with the same sense, it can be an influencer with children for ADHD, it’s a very safe supplement to use that also supports, as I mentioned, metabolic function, growth, bone health, blood sugar metabolism, and so it’s a really great go-to for anxiety and ADHD and unfortunately, that’s hitting now upwards of 30% of our pediatric population so a really good one to think of kiddos that are having difficulty winding down. And then, you know, beyond the mental health focus we’re even seeing things like anything that has constriction so if we’re talking about cold extremities to asthma, so magnesium can help with relaxation of our bronchial smooth tissues in our body, our smooth muscle.
And it helps to block histamine reactivity in our body. It also plays, like I mentioned a big role in blood sugar metabolism and can play a role with hormone balance so it actually plays a role with our estrogen metabolism and can remove or reduce the more toxic forms of estrogen in the body, so it plays a big role there and then when we think of menstruating women it plays a role with our contraction with shedding the uterine lining, so high dones magnesium can be very supportive for women that deal with very distressing cramps during their menstruation or discomfort whether it’s in the lower back or in the ovarian area.
It can actually although it’s so relaxing, it can be used to help with fatigue so we see it being a big tool with chronic fatigue symptom, probably because of the mechanics in cortisol regulation but it also helps with direct energy production so our ATP energy storage uses magnesium in its source. And then another thing I think of is headaches, so when we’re talking about intracranial inflammation or tension in the brain, it’s that same mechanism just like it helps with the asthma just like it helps with the trapezoid tension in the neuromuscular area, or it helps you to relax your jaw, same sense as a headache regulator so I love using magnesium and I’m sure we’ll talk in a moment best form and best practice but that’s one of my go-tos and first line of defense for headaches, blood pressure, stress, anxiety- those are kind of the big ones that I think of and then metabolic syndrome is something worth mentioning as well.
B: Awesome. And then I think we talked about previously about its role in sleep and insomnia, too.
A: For sure.
B: So that’s a big one as well. What about, just kind of generalized symptoms to look for that might tip us off that someone is dealing with magnesium deficiency?
A: So big ones that we think of connecting to the main condition, so heart arrhythmia so palpitations or arrhythmias in cardiovascular system or spasms with the heartbeat. We can also see muscle cramps, we can see seizures, so really from severe tension and spasms to even cramps in the body. Tingling and numbness of forms of neuropathy can be exacerbated with magnesium deficiency, overall fatigue, there can even be nausea and vomiting with severe cases because it can play a role with our electrolyte stability and then even to levels of changes in appetite but I think that insomnia and a generalized distress are two of my main go-tos and then I tie that with especially if there is restless leg syndrome or overactive tense muscles, that to me, is definitely going for magnesium.
B: Awesome and then let’s talk about main food sources, so where can we find magnesium the most concentrated in the diet?
A: So leafy greens are one of the #1 sources that we would look to and then if my next kind of top 5 I suppose: dark chocolate would be one of my favorites and that’s why I alway use a prescription for 80% or greater cacao for when you’re cycling women.
B: You body knows you need that.
A: Yes and it helps with serotonin too, so helps you from being cranky, but, yeah, it really does help on a neuromuscular level with the cramps. We think of pepitas or pumpkin seed and sesame seeds as great sources, it is also bioavailable in animal products so from pasture raised chicken to ground beef to salmon and wild caught fish like halibut, magnesiums is going to be a really rich source there. And then nuts and seeds and greens are really the big other area that I look at for focus.
B: Ok so yummy things let’s bring it together with a couple of recipes that we can give our listeners, free sources for.
A: Sure so one that’s on the blog as of kind of recent is the Green Smoothie Bowl so we’re going to be getting in a lot of antioxidants and then definitely the leafy greens as a base, is there nut butter in there too, Becki?
B: I think it’ smore coconut milk based if I’m remembering correctly. But we could sprinkle-
A: Oh but there’s brazil nuts and chia seeds on there –
B: On top.
A: So you‘re definitely getting that double hit. And then the Tomato Burrata Salad that we just put up for our aphrodisiac focus for Valentine’s Day last week, that has the pumpkin seed pesto which would be a great magnesium rich source there. And then the Avocado Chocolate Mousse which was also on the menu for V-day if you have that left in your fridge, of course you’re getting that cacao and 100% so you’re getting all the antioxidants and magnesium there and then the avocado give you a decent amount as does dates.
B: Awesome. And that all sounds really yummy and we’ll make sure we link to all of those in the show notes. Let’s talk about supplementation and forms because this, I see, so often with clients coming in taking they’ve put themselves on mag oxide and citrate and they’re wondering why it’s not working or driving adverse GI symptoms.
A: Yeah. So all of the symptoms that we talked about, like from restless leg to insomnia to anxiety to blood sugar dysregulation, all of those symptoms of magnesium deficiency can really only be corrected with magnesium bis glycinate or magnesium glycinate. And so the other forms which are more focusing on the osmotic role of the colon and so for instance, mag citrate, magnesium citrate or milk of magnesia, these play a big role as a stool softener so they bring water into the colon which helps with bowel passing, if you have constipation from dehydration in the colon based on imbalance of electrolytes or based on magnesium deficiency.
So those supplements do work as stool softeners so if we’re talking about, like, working with someone that’s dealing with chemotherapy drugs or high dose opioids and they’re dealing with chronic constipation, they might use those as a tool but even for those individuals, the first line of defense would be the magnesium bis glycinate or magnesium glycinate. And this is the one that is more bioavailable on an intracellular level so this can actually be used as the cells to fuels to mitochondria to help with chronic fatigue syndrome, to play a role with blood sugar regularity and to really influence the neuromuscular system and the stress HPA axis to reduce that excitatory signaling in the body. So bar none, the med glycinate is the best for and our Relax and Regulate formula is, I think, one of our top 3 best seller supplements because I’ve had people literally say to me “if my individual session was worth anything, the referral for Relax and Regulate made it all worth it” and its’ so – I mean, I think they learned other things I hope.
B: I would think so.
A: No, truly, I think that that’s been a really remarkable formula that I’ve personally been using for over 5 years and it is a white powder, ti does have a natural sweetness because the Relax and Regulate has 2 bioactive ingredients; it has the magnesium bisglycinate which is the most bioavailable form and then it also has myoanacoltol and amyoanocitol plays a significant role also as a cousin to the B vitamin family with regulating and balancing out hormones, reducing stress response and supporting neurological health so it helps with the myelination or the protective coating of our nerves. And the Relax and Regulate can not only help with you relaxing as far as depth of sleep and getting that neuromuscular relaxation from tension and stress, but we do have the word ‘regulate’ on there when we decided on a name because it helps with motility of the bowels as far as people that deal with constipation with the root cause being clenching in that enteric nervous system so so many people actually that have chronic constipation, it’s not necessarily due to dehydration or electrolyte imbalance which is so easy to correct with diet and lifestyle, it’s typically due to distress and that individual clenching and having some form of gastroparesis or not having enough neurological passive signals in a rest and digest state of that parasympathetic nervous system to promote bowel regulation and bowel motility to move the content down the GI tract.
B: Awesome. So, yeah, we’re big fans of this supplements I know Ali and I both take it on a regular basis and I’ll make sure we link to that in our show notes as well. So before we go into the next micronutrient, Vitamin C, let’s just have a quick word from our sponsor.
So Health IQ is a life insurance agency that provides savings for health conscious individuals. And I know this is something on my list, I’m turning 30 this year and I feel like it’s just part of adulting, you know, once you start thinking about a family to actually get life insurance.
A: Right? It’s a little bum bum bum daunting but I think it’s definitely something for the future and we are, we’re so happy share that this Naturally Nourished podcast episode is sponsored by Health IQ and they’re and insurance company to help you listeners who are mindful and proactive about your wellness to get lower rates on your life insurance. So you can go to HealthIQ.com\alimillerrd to support- to check out the show notes and see if you qualify.
B: So Health IQ uses science and data to secure lower rates on life insurance for health conscious people, in fat 56% of Health IQ customers save between 4-33% on their life insurance.
A: We are excited to share them as an opportunity for you all to return on your investment to your wellcare.
B: Health IQ can save our customers up to 33% because physically active people like you guys have a 56% lower risk of heart disease, 20% lower risk of cancer, and a 58% lower risk of diabetes compared to those who are inactive.
A: So you guys are already winning because you’re feeling fabulous and not dying and having lower disease risk but you’re also going to get the return on investment because the work you put into your body is going to save you money. So to see if you qualify and to get your free quote today got over to HealthIQ.com\Alimillerrd and or mention the promo code alimillerRD when you talk to a health IQ agent.
B: Awesome so next up let’s talk about vitamin C. So obviously this one is really well known for its role in immune function and we might think of, like, scurvy as kind of the epitome of deficiency.
A: Well yeah.
B: Let’s talk about why this is important and I think deficiency is more common than we realize.
A: Yeah well, honestly it’s funny I mean like “yeah scurvy hahaha” but that was the start of the actual, I think, association of a nutrient treating a disease. I mean, one of the first really big heavy hits and I remember when I was at Bastyr University and I was at a class called, I think it was called, Functional Medicine fo the Nutrition Practitioner. Dr. Jeff Blanch came in and talked about the Linus Pauling Institute and he used the word “ortho molecular therapies” and talked about high dose vitamin C and that was the first time, I mean even being at a progressive naturopathic school of medicine as Bastyr, a lot of my professors were not talking about megadose anything, it was still following the RDAs and understanding, you know, the function of nutrients and the function of the body but it was really, like, enlightening to me to be like “wait wait wait, what? You can use hgh doses of a nutrient to combat chronic illness?” and it just – I think my brain dripped from the table I was like, “this is what I need to figure out more of” and I think that kind of created the foundation of my practice so, yes, vitamin C has so many different functions in the body.
Also, you know, looking at the influence from asthma all the way down to testosterone from A through almost Z. And it does play a role in relaxation in the body as well so if we’re talking about the role with histamine and cortisol, it does inhibit histamine induced constriction in the body so whether we’re talking about from rashing to things like asthma, it’s used in the production of epinephrine so it does play a role with the adrenal glands. In fact, the most concentrated of storage of vitamin C is those tiny little adrenal glands that sit above oru kidneys and vitamin C is used as a regulator within cortisol production. It is needed in demand when cortisol is manufactured in those adrenals glands so plays a big role with oru adrenaline and oru cortisol output which plays a huge role with inflammation in the body and also our immune system function.
So that’s a whole wide spectrum on its own. We do know that also it can help with LDL oxidation, so when we’re talking about heart health and we’re talking about nasty things like LPa which is a functional medicine marker that allowed people say “it’s just genetic and there’s nothing that diet can do about it.” High dose vitamin C speaking in in high dose like 2-5 grams of vitamin C, can really help with not only the oxidative damage of LDLs which creates the plaque formation in the first place, but high dose vitamin C with lowering that LPa which is that stickiness factor of the blood so that’s what drives stroke and that’s what would drive the atherosclerotic plaque as well.
And it helps with regulating white blood cells which plays a big role with creating the foam cells that precede the plaque in the arteries and it’s the same preliminary mechanism of how vitamin C helps on a immunological level and regulating the immune system. It also helps with inflammation so systematically it supports cortisol which has the natural anti inflammatory support but it also has been shown in studies to be inversely related with C reactive protein, which is our main marker for systemic inflammation and I kind of think of it as the little baby of the antioxidant spectrum but, you know, with glutathione being the master antioxidant so it does help to increase glutathione which then, in turn, helps things like cancer, also toxicity, free radical overload, so advanced or accelerated aging and all of the things that come with toxic exposure or sluggish detox pathways.
B: Awesome. So so much beyond just immune function, how we might typically think of it. Let’s talk about a couple of the symptoms of deficiency that are quite common.
A: Yeah so some that we don’t connect – so one would be susceptibility or poor immune function so if you’re someone that’s always getting sick like, a co-worker is sick and you are guaranteed going to come down with it, probably you should be supplementing with some good quality vitamin C and that’s the first thing we think of like you said, Becki, and then other things that aren’t as commonly considered are actual oral health plays a huge health because vitamin C plays such a role with our white blood cell function and our immunological function. We know that periodontal disease is so connected with our immune system and also, of course, nwo we know that that’s connected with our cardiovascular system. So symptoms that we can think of would be oral disease, receding gums, tooth decay, all can be tied to vitamin C deficiency. Even to the level of, like, iron regulation in the body and platelet regulation and peki eyes with the red dots, which is a symptom of iron deficiency and vitamin C can help with regulating that. We can see mood imbalance, more prone towards depression with vitamin C deficiency and then there can also be some neuromuscular influences so muscle cramps and spasms can be another sign of vitamin C deficiency.
B: Ok and then food-wise, I mean, I’m sure people already know about citrus as a good source but what are some other sources to look at?
A: So bell peppers are a fantastic form and by weight, actually, have more vitamin C than citrus, so citrus would be our lemon, lime, oranges, tangerines, and all of the fun stuff in between so like blood oranges and all the heirloom varieties of awesome citrus that is available. We look at berries as well so bell peppers like colored bell peppers like red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, yellow, those are all fantastic sources of vitamin C that are lower carbohydrate. Berries also a very low glycemic fruit option that are very vitamin C rich. We see a lot of vitamin C in our tropical fruits, so like mango, papaya, pineapple all of those are going to be fantastic sources and then there’s some herbs as well so camu camu is a big one, it’s a shrub that you can get as a powder superfood. I like to add that into smoothies or shakes or even in fat bombs and then rose hips can work similarly.
I’ve done rose hip chocolate bars and things like that as far as playing. Rose hip tea, those are really fantastic options and then you do get some vitamin C from pretty much all produce. That is one of the nutrients that arguably for those naysayers of organics, they do acknowledge that vitamin C content is higher in produce that is organically grown. And so that would be a push for, you know, all of your vegetable choices if they’re locally grown or organically produced, they’re going to have a nice push of vitamin C and the last one I’ll mention that is kind of an ugly stepchild or unthought of food is kiwi. I love giving that to Stella, I’ve been doing that a lot throughout the winter. I just did a post on instagram about the Cutie’s- it wasn’t that brand but those little- are they tangerines, Becki?
B: Yeah they’re-
A: Clementines. Yeah how they were treated with an antifungal and that makes perfect sense because citrus molds and it was actually purchased for us by my in laws over christmas and we’re sitting here almost towards the end of February and I’m like looking at it in the bowl on my island and I’m like “wait a minute” I don’t know why I didn’t look earlier. But Stella wasn’t treating them, she was just eating the organic ones, she just stopped eating these and I was like “that’s amazing” that’s really cool. But, yeah, I read the label of the bag and it said that they were treated with one of 3 anti mold agents and, I mean, that definitely penetrates through the skin and so one to really be mindful of when we’re looking for vitamin C rich foods we really want to choose organic for os many reasons but that’s also what’s going to produce the most vitamin C out there and kiwi’s can be a really fun one for kids to think of even throwing in their lunch and the thin skinned kiwis they can even eat like an apple.
B: Awesome I love that. I never knew you could eat the skin until you told me that in the past year.
A: Yeah and I love cutting then in half and just eating with a spoon, like putting it in the freezer for 20 minutes and even in keto I can get half a keto and those 2 bites, I think I calculated it’s 4 grams of carbs and, like, so amazing.
B: Awesome. Love that. What about some meals and snack that can bring this one together? So some good vitamin C rich food?
A: Yeah so our Adrenal Rehab Shake is fantastic. It uses the pithe of the lemon so you peel the lemon and put the whole lemon in the shake and that compound is called nobilin, I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing it right, but it’s been shown in research to have really awesome anti inflammatory properties and you get a lot more bioflavanoids when we keep that white furry fiber intact. Really potent in vitamin C and I think that recipe even adds some buffered vitamin C powder and definitely Renal Gummies do, for sure. And then one that’s a fantastic dreamy recipe is the Grain-Free Lemon Bars. I’ve brought those to a bunch of different gatherings and they’re really nice mouthfeel and a really nice texture and creamy delivery of an indulgence.
B: So delicious I love that recipe. We’ll definitely link to that for you guys. And then what about just general supplementation recommendations?
A: Yeah so if you’re dealing with – my first go-to would be to use that camu-camu or rose hips and blend that into things because I always try to use whole foods first, whereas like magnesium I would definitely lead with, if anything, the Relax and Regulate mag-glycinate as a bigger driver of supplement need. I think vitamin C is quite ubiquitous and you can get a lot of those superfoods even like acai bags and things like that, but if you’re looking for supplemental support and you’re dealing with significant symptoms I like to look for a buffered form of vitamin C and and you’d like to look for buffered version so you don’t get bowel irritation when it’s about 1.5 grams otherwise, most vitamin C forms like especially if it’s just ascorbic acid, you’re going to get diarrhea if you go above 1.5 grams. So if we’re looking to get a 3 or a 5 gram dose, you want to look for buffered and we’ll put in the show noets one that I use often in practice is a Buffered Vitamin C Powder from Thorne. And it can go into shakes, it can be mixed with water, and it especially can be taken, you know, pre and post travel as a great way to support the immune system.
B: Oh yeah. Yes yes and it’s in those Adrenal Gummies that Ali mentioned to which is a really fun vitamin C rich recipe. I’ll link to that one as well.
A: And, you know, we just put these on the blog too, the Elderberry Gummies too.
B: They’ve got orange and lemon in them. So I’ll link to them as well so you guys have all the resources to get your vitamin C. So last nutrient here, let’s talk about one that’s probably not as talked about or as well-known. We’re talking about glutamine. So this plays a big role in gut health, I know, but let’s talk about its other functions.
A: Yeah so often actually when people talk to me about muscle aches and sugar cravings I go right to glutamine. Especially if they have any history of food sensitivity so glutamine is used for energy. It is an amino acid so it’s used as a building block in the body and it can help to create glutathione which supports detox in the body and, again, glutathione being that master antioxidant, so glutamine can actually drive glutathione production. It also supports muscle function, so like I said, depletion can drive sore muscles. It plays a big role in our gut cells so it is a fuel source and a building block to our enterocytes which is the fancy, geeky word for gut cells and so our enterocytes or gut cells are fed by glutamine. Glutamine’s their best fuel source and they build from glutamate. So if we’re talking about leaky gut or gut line damage, glutamine is your best friend as far as repairing and coding and soothing the GI lining.
And so especially anyone that’s taking meloxicam or celebrex or prescription NSAIDs or even just taking Aleve once a day, or Advil. Those drugs can be quite harmful and irritating to the gut lining, but I definitely recommend all of those individuals to be using our GI Lining Powder to coat and soothe and compensate for that wear and tear. And then, as I said, in conditions of inflammatory bowel disease, glutamine is one of our first lines of defense and the use of that formula is when the GI docs say “Ok so this scope looks remarkable. It looks like my ulcerative or Crohn’s patient doesn’t have the condition – what did you do with them?” And we probably did the RRT inflammatory food test and some for of an elimination diet and maybe even paired with a specific carbohydrate diet but it’s the GI Lining Powder and the probiotics but the GI LIning Powder really helps to repair gut lining. It’s remarkable. So that’s the big home run for glutamine for sure. And it does play a role with our blood sugar regulation and blood sugar cravings and addictive impulse activity is tied to glutamine depletion. So L-glutamine has been used to recovery in rehab centers actually to be taken sublingually like just direct scoop under the tongue to help with cravings and impulse activity.
B: Yes I love that so that’s a tool that we tell clients to use all the time, it’s like if we’re dealing with a significant out-of-body sugar craving that we can’t get a handle on, we’ll do the glutamine under the tongue trick as well.
A: Yep. For sure.
B: Yep so what about some to the other disease states and conditions beyond gut health that glutamine can assist with?
A: Yeah so the mechanism in which one of the mechanisms – in which it can help with sugar cravings and addictive tendencies is in the ability to support the production of GABA. So GABA is our neurotransmitter that is very calming and affects our mood as far as supporting focus, relaxing the brain, reducing hyperactivity. So glutamine can be a tool for ADHD as well as autism and anxiety for those reasons. So it can really be a calming compound. And then when we’re looking at the influence with fatigue, this can be, again, driven, we see a big deficiency where low glutamine stores can drive muscle damage and supplementing with glutamine can support insulin sensitivity, so it can increase our energy levels or utilization of fuel.
Bringing that fuel intracellularly and reducing the demand for insulin so thus reducing the inflammation in the body. It also, one of the mechanisms beyond insulin sensitivity, is that it plays a role with the hormone GLP1 so as a diabetic regulating compound, it can improve the signaling and the sensitivity for insulin. And it’s good to mention that because some people misconceive glutamine as being glycolytic or causing blood sugar release and we’ll speak to that with some other myths on glutamine, but I think it’s just important to address – I’ve really scoured all the research on there and it can have short-term influence of hyperglycemia, but it tends to over long-term even in the timestamp of 2 weeks onwards, regulate and reduce blood sugar levels so it can help with fatigue, it can help with diabetes.
We talked about, I think, singing its praises for gastrointestinal health, so from food sensitivities and things like celiac disease to Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis and even heartburn and reflux when we’re talking about that rawness and that even acidity, it can protect and coat from the upper down to the lower GI tract. It does have anti inflammatory mechanisms so we talked about the role with glutathione, the grandmaster antioxidant, but glutamine has also been used to reduce cytokines which are inflammatory chemicals, kind of the army of defenders or inflammation in the body and glutamine can reduce the inflammatory signals in the body. And then, I think I mentioned the sore muscle thing, but there has been a lot of studies looking at both weight management and sports nutrition, the fact that glutamine supplementation can help with reducing immune distress post-excessive stress response. And we have seen, in some of my studies and work I’ve been doing for the Anti Anxiety Diet as well glutamine tends to get depleted from mental stress and physical stress so, again, our people that are our Crossfitters our marathon runners, oru high output exercisers and then even our mental stressors, they’re all set up for higher glutamine depletion and that can be why we say “stressed spelled desserts backwards” as one of the mehcamiss maybe or why people under high stress feel so fatigued as well.
B: Awesome. And what about other, just, general symptoms of deficiency beyond food sensitivities and the muscle soreness?
A: So I think the only one I really didn’t hit is the immune influence so, like I said, inflammatory, mood, cravings, all of the things, blood sugar but the only one I didn’t hit that I would mention in addition is also immune function. So we can see delayed wound healing and compromised immune system function and it can also be trended to the deficiency beyond the stress demand in vegetarians because, again, glutamine is an amino acid so when we’re talking food sources, Bone Broth is one of the best ones to get your glutamine levels back up.
B: Yeah and those foods, too, we’ve got a whole list that we’ll go through with your guys but I think one of the reasons that we might see more or increased glutamine deficiency these days is because people don’t eat traditional foods like stuff like a lot of collagen and gelatin and those cuts of meats – what are some of the sources that we can find glutamine in?
A: Yeah so a couple things that we think of in- so all proteins, and, like Becki said, the traditional forms like the gelatinized cuts that are put in the slow cooker and are broken down versus like a chicken breast and a ground meat, those are going to have, when they have more collagen and gelatin, higher amounts of the L-glutamine, which is great. So bone broth itself and then varied cuts of clean proteins is a great way to start. We also see glutamine as a rich food in cabbage, so slaws, krauts are great things to focus on there. We can see glutamine in a lot of the umami flavor profiled foods so things like sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms are really fantastic options there and then our Grassfed Whey Protein, be that it is comprised of complete amino acids, has a good amount of glutamine as well as all of the amino acids intact and also including immunological compounds and antioxidants like glutathione intact in there and so Grassfed Whey that’s non denatured like the Naturally Nourished Grassfed Whey would be something to consider as well.
B: Awesome and then I’m also thinking proteins like collagen and gelatin would be a good prescription too, right?
A: Oh yeah, for sure. And/or making homemade bone broth. We’ll put a link to that for sure, bone broth and our Naturally Nourished Cookbook we do Bone Broth 3 ways, we have an awesome bone broth soup with tomatoes and basil, a really simple tomato basil soup we make in the blender and that has extra glutamine because of the tomatoes and bone broth and then along those lines, the Pan-Seared Chicken with Tomato Jam which is also in the Naturally Nourished Cookbook, that uses the bone-in skin-on chicken breast and not the white cutaway breast, and the tomato jam so you simmer down and reduce the tomatoes until they pop and add balsamic and caramelized and it’s just yummy amazingness and that’s a really great glutamine supporter.
B: That’s one of my favorite recipes and it’s so simple.
A: And fun. Fun for gatherings for sure.
B: And then let’s talk about supplementation and what you would recommend.
A: Sure. So when we’re talking about supplements, like I said, I think I mentioned it earlier, and it would be the GI Lining Powder of ours, would be the best option out there for a couple reasons: 1) it’s giving you over 2 grams of L-glutamine, which is going to replete deficiency trends, but it delivers it in the presence of also aloe vera and DGL so aloe vera gives us this oopy goopy mucilaginous coating and delivery that just like if you’ve used aloe after a sunburn topically, it is very anti inflammatory and very goopy, that’s the best way I can put it so it slowly delivers the glutamine along to the enterocytes or the gut cells that are just hungry to eat it up. And then the DGL in there helps to repair ulcerations or actual tissue damage, so it is called GI Lining Powder for that reason that it’s targeted in repairing leaky gut and I will say probably everyone of you listening has some level of leaky gut. Whether it’s been diagnosed or not, all of us are at risk for it because of the consumption of things like chlorine in our tap water and so many things that work on distressing our gut, including mental stress so the GI Lining Powder is my favorite recommendation and the nice thing is the DGL in there the deglycerized licorice, it provides a natural sweetness so it can really help with the sugar cravings delivery and help to support metabolic balance in the body so it has a really nice flavor profile. I actually just put a scoop under my tongue at bed and then just follow with water and it’s kind of my ritual and I actually blend by Relax and Regulate with my GI Lining Powder at bed and that’s just my evening ritual before I take my probiotics.
B: Sounds like we have the same evening ritual, I’m not surprised.
B: Now, I do want to address something we spoke to a little bit earlier in terms of using glutamine in, well I guess we didn’t mention cancer care, but we mentioned perpendency to feed things in the body or that it might have an influence like glucose, but let’s talk about glutamine and cancer care. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, a lot of controversy on whether glutamine can drive cancer cell growth so is this true? What are your thoughts on this?
A: Yes. So one big thing – I just sneezed- maybe I need some vitamin C.
B: Bless you.
A: Thank you. I’ll acknowledge that. Yeah so I for a while even honestly when I first, again, I dove into ortho molecular and the use of nutritional supplements for management of symptoms and disease states back in 2008, and when I first learned about glutamine, it was predominantly focused on inflammatory bowel disease and that was, I think, before my awareness – before the term “leaky gut” was coined. We had talked about intestinal enteropathy which is still the medical jargon for leaky gut but that was before leaky gut was leaky gut, you know? And so I knew about it as a tool for sure for intestinal health and gut health and immunological health, but there were some studies, like I mentioned, with the blood sugar confusion that showed that glutamine can be metabolised into glucose, which is true.
Glutamine can be metabolised into a couple different things. It can be metabolized into blood sugar. It can be metabolised into GABA, as I mentioned, which is that neuro inhibitory, relaxing compound, and it can be metabolised into glucosamine to help with joint function. It can be metabolized into glutathione to help as an antioxidant so it can be very choose your own adventure. But the focus on it converting into glucose drove a lot of concern in research that was done with rats on cancer cells in super super hgh dose which is done all the time to freak people out and I just am saying this now because I’ve had patients recently email me, have you heard about, Becki, the asparagus study?
B: Yeah I saw that too.
A: So I’m just saying this to be timely and I’m going to deter a little bit and then we’ll talk about the glutamine cancer things but that study was done on asparagine which is an amino acid, yes, naturally occurring in asparagus and all proteins because it’s an amino acid and the study was done on isolated cancer cells and high high high dose asparagine in an isolated form. And so it’s- if you are provoking cancer cells, specifically with a compound that can be anabolic or growth promoting, you probably are going to see growth of cancer. I mean, that’s what you’re doing and it is an exogenous, not endogenous, meaning outside of the body study and it’s done on animals so it’s just – there’s so many variables that cannot translate to use as a supplement as a tool or use as a tool compound as a stool to support the body and it’s frustrating because I think it’s really funded often by pharmaceutical industries, a lot of these studies to create a fear of people using supplements as tools to get them feeling better and to get them not relying on pharmaceutical drugs in treatment protocols so, that’s my 2 cents is that is when we’re looking at a study and they’re isolating cancer cells and they’re feeding cancer cells that promotes growth, and they’re not putting it in the body and allowing it to transfer through the gut, through the liver and biochemically do its ping pong effect to become what it wants to become, yeah you’re going to see drama. So that’s my 2 cents.
B: I love that.
A: Did I harp enough? Am I there?
B: I think you got it.
A: So yes. That’s my thing with the research that looks at glutamine and cancer, same type of thing. Like I said with the sore muscles, if something is depleted, glutamine can help to fuel it but glutamine can also, you know, there were over 20 studies as far back as 1990 that looked at the benefits of glutamine as an adjuvant in cancer treatment and saw that there was beneficial outcomes with pairing chemo and cancer process and that it prevented the side effects of things like mucositis and esophagitis and intestinal permeability and helped to enhance glutathione levels and – which is antioxidants, again, and help to lower insulin growth factor 1 and tumor growth factor beta two main markers of cancer and tumorigenic activity.
So there are a lot of published literature on the role of L-glutamine in a supplemental form be it in a parenteral feed or on oral or enteral feed and these clinical studies really evaluate not only tolerance and safety, but the efficacy of glutamine to benefit the patient during cancer treatment and care. So it’s no longer something that I am gunshy about as far as I used to really when I was doing, for instance, like our MRT protocol which is our elimination inflammatory food panel, we put everyone on my GI Lining Powder at week 5 of their program and that’s before we test outliers because we’re really trying to capitalize on their investment of the Elimination Diet and seal the tank of their leaky gut before we bring in any outlier influences. But with my cancer patients for years I would just try to get them to bring up their bone broth and really bump up things like gelatin, well now I feel really safe as I’ve taken the time to comb through the research to use the GI Lining Powder because I’ve seen it used clinically and in the cases of cancer and I’ve seen documented only beneficial outcomes in a human research study, not taking isolated cancer cells.
B: Yes and so often we see things like, you know, gastrointestinal cancers that we’re like “oh we would love to use glutamine here but is it safe?” so it’s just so promising to be able to see that we can use it.
A: Yeah so that was from my shifts with 2017 practice when I delved deeper into the studies and, you know, that’s going forward that glutamine is a great tool and, oh goodness I can’t think of his last name in the moment, but Dr. Bob who is a consultant for Thorn, he talked at the IFM a couple years ago and I actually was someone that raised my hand in the audience to ask him that question and, actually, I think sine 2015 the he gave me that confidence that I am ok and now that I’ve delved in and I’m ok. Double double ok. So yeah, the only exception to this is glioblastoma multiforme A, which is the type of cancer that could potentially in theory be metabolized to promote that type of cancer pathology so I do- I would still be conservative in that case, but all other forms of cancer I would still recommend a GI Lining Powder or an L-glutamine supplement.
B: Awesome. So very promising. So just to wrap things up, let’s talk about a couple of tools for listeners if they suspect micronutrient deficiencies going on or they want to dig deeper into this area.
A: So, yeah, I hope the take home from all of this is that using micronutrient deficiency trends can be, again, an upstream tool to not only correcting symptoms that you’re currently experiencing but to anticipate and prevent symptoms from occurring in the first place. So we were talking about so many different trends and Becki and I see this daily when we’re working with patients in the Naturally Nourished clinic. A woman comes to me in her mid 50s and she’s dealing with insomnia and she’s dealing with hair thinning and she’s dealing with a new diagnosis of prediabetes, and her HDL is coming down and she is chronically fatigued, and we look at the overlap of all of that and something like biotin when brought up to an optimal range in her body can support that and prevent the neuropathy or neurological dysfunction that was waiting on deck to rear its ugly head in 2 or 3 or 5 or 6 months, right?
So this is a really cool tool and when we are looking at in on a clinical level to start with a patient assessment, we like to use the micronutrient test and this is through SpectraCell and it looks at white blood cell proliferation so rather than a blood test that looks at what’s floating through blood and that’ slike a standard serum assessment, the micronutrient test with white blood cell proliferation is looking at what is viable on an intracellular level so what actually is available to your cells to use as nourishment? And that concept of proliferation as literally as morbid as it sounds, allow your cells to die and compare them on a viability level to cells in the supplemental feed an so they’re actually looking at the viability basically of your cells have enough of a particular nutrient to stay alive.
So it’s a functional level of assessment versus a snapshot of what’s floating through the blood and it does look at a more long-term assessment of micronutrient status versus being influenced by what you had yesterday or the day before. So I love that’s an annual assessment so if you’re someone that’s made a lot of strides in diet and lifestyle and just want an inventory of your body it’s a great way to use a therapeutic protocol of food as medicine, and then prioritize the supplements that you are taking that you may no longer need or maybe risking too high levels of, and then also refrain and prioritize supplements that you may be needing and overlooking.
B: Yes I love that and SpectraCell has these awesome resources, I’ll link to where they’re located on our website, but they have a whole bunch of different charts that go through nutrient deficiencies or depletion with certain medications like we talked about so you can kind of look up your medications, see what’s associated. They have these visuals of different conditions and symptoms and all of the nutrient deficiencies that are associated all around them so you can start to do some of the work at least, like, highlighting of “yeah that’s me that’s me” or you could just run this test and get a simple printout of what you are functionally deficient in.
A: Yeah and if you’re looking for a starting point today, one of the big things I always ask a patient that in my initial consultation I’m playing detective of the body so I’m during that time, asking questions for the first 60 minutes of the consult to understand structural function of the body, hormone function, GI function, neurological function, all of the things, right? And so I’m making these maps of what is the Achilles’ heel of my patient? What are the trends a root causes of the symptoms that are going on? And if micronutrient assessment is something I want to consider, one of the first questions I ask them is “what multivitamin are you taking and for how long have you been taking it?” And I mean, I’m surprised often at how many people aren’t taking one and I really highly recommend starting with a good quality multivitamin that has methylated B’s and chelated or tracts forms of minerals, which are bioavailable so we’re giving potent enough dosages and also ensuring that the delivery form is able to be used actively in its active form by your body.
And the MultiDefense would be a great, this is one of the Naturally Nourished Supplement lines, the Multidefense also has a high ORAC score or antioxidant capacity score from plant-based antioxidants in there and then it does have bioactive forms of nutrients and I can’t tell you how frustrating it is, even when I look at, like, Whole Foods or natural grocers or cooperatives theres lines like New Chapter and a lot of these healthy and natural looking and, you know, they say organic sourced this and that but they have synthetic folic acid or they have forms of nutrients that are not bioavailable or are really cheap synthetic forms so it’s really important to as, an insurance policy, have a quality bioavailable micronutrient and my plug would the the Micronutrient Defense and we’ll put a link to that for sure.
B: Awesome and then I think the Naturally Nourished Cookbook is another great resources.
B: Because that would be, you know, helping to increase nutrient density of the diet and each food as medicine take away so we talk about some of the nutrients and the foods and the recipes that are the most rich in them so that would be a good way to just increase nutrients in general as well.
A: As well I think that’s a great recommendation too, Becki.
B: Awesome so hopefully this information, I know there was a lot of it, will allow you guys to empower yourselves with foods and supplements, if needed, to improve your micronutrients status. We will certainly be taking a look at other micronutrients in a similar way in future podcasts so keep tuning in and in the meantime check in out alimillerrd.com for our latest blog post, recipes and make sure you’re following us on FaceBook and Instagram at AliMillerRD.
A: And be sure to engage and drop a post and tag us when you’re focusing on repleting your deficiency stores or applying food as medicine. And if you have a moment and you can go over to ITunes and give us a 5 star rating, it is greatly appreciated especially if you put in a couple of words and sentences of feedback it’s a great way to spread food as medicine with your community and beyond, and Amazon to leave us a review for the Naturally Nourished Cookbook if you have a copy there. The greatest way that we can share our message is with positive feedback on a public level from listeners like you. So thank you so much for spending some time with us today. I hope you’ve learned a lot and I hope that you guys can empower yourselves with ways to replete your magnesium, vitamin C, and glutamine deficiencies.
Thank you for listening to the Naturally Nourished Podcast. Visit our blog at Alimillerrd.com for recipes, wellness tips, and food as medicine meal plans. Connect with Ali at Becki at AliMillerRD on InstaGram or Twitter and Facebook. Until next time, stay nourished and be well.