Category Archives: Nutrition
Health Canada advises, along with many nutrition professionals, “that a healthy and balanced diet can provide most people with the nutrients essential for good health.” 
Does that mean that if we eat a “healthy and balanced diet”, that we’ll be meeting all the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and we’ll be safe from nutritional deficiency?
Or do some of us follow this recommendation and still have a nutrient deficiency – and not even know it?
According to the latest Health Canada Community Survey (June 2017), Canadians as a population are not as well nourished as we may think.
Fruit and vegetables contain a range of beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. Consumption of at least 5 servings per day is linked with a reduced risk of various diseases, including cancers and heart disease. 
Therefore, fruit and vegetable consumption is considered a healthy behaviour, and a good indication of the overall diet and nutritional quality of a population.
However, in data from the 2017 survey, less than a third (30.0%) of Canadians aged 12 and older reported that they ate the recommended number of servings.
Given the rather significant shortfall in Canadians reaching their “5-a-day”, it’s not surprising that there are a number of nutrients reported to be lacking in our diets.
With the overall lack of adequate fruit and vegetable servings, along with soil depletion, over-processing of food, and treated water…well, it’s no wonder that many of us are lacking in a number of key nutrients that we once attained easily and ought to supplement.
For example, today you would have to eat 4 carrots to get the full amount of Magnesium available that was in just one carrot 80 years ago. Unfortunately, you’re not eating your grandmother’s carrots anymore!
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps maintain normal vision and keeps your immune system, skin, and eyes functioning at their best.
More than 35% of Canadians age 19 and over consumed vitamin A in quantities below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR). 
Carotenoids, such a beta carotene, are converted into vitamin A in the body, and it gives fruits and vegetables their orange, red and yellow colour (such as pumpkin, carrots and bell peppers).
It is also found in dark green leafy vegetables; with liver, dairy, eggs, and fatty fish also being good sources of Vitamin A.
A nutrient that is commonly found in plant foods, but also commonly lacking in our diets, is Magnesium.
This multi-tasking mineral is involved as a cofactor for a range of biochemical reactions in the body including nerve and muscle function, protein synthesis and blood glucose control.
It is also involved in the structural development of bone and plays a role in nerve impulse conduction, maintaining a normal heart rhythm and muscle contraction.
Evidence suggests that 34% of Canadians over the age of 19 consumed magnesium in quantities below the EAR. 
Magnesium is found mostly in whole grains, legumes, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables. Milk and yogurt contain some magnesium as well.
Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, provides the structure and rigidity of bones and teeth. It is also important for proper muscle function, hormone secretion, and nerve transmission. 
It was reported that there’s an increasing prevalence of calcium inadequacy with older age.
Calcium is found in dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, fish with soft bones and fortified products.
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of Calcium from the gut, and for supporting optimal bone health. It is also thought to play a role in immune function, healthy skin, and muscle strength.
While our bodies can make vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, during the fall and winter months, and in northern climates, where sunlight hours are limited, it can be hard to get enough of this critical nutrient, and vitamin D deficiency can become (and is becoming) more prominent.
While about 80% of the adult Canadian population are not getting the vitamin D they need from dietary sources , available clinical measures do not suggest widespread Vitamin D deficiency in the Canadian population.  
The major food sources of Vitamin D are foods that have been fortified or through supplementation.
So, how do we get all the nutrients we need?
We’ve always recommended, first and foremost, that people strive to meet their nutritional requirements through eating a varied diet with a foundation of whole and unprocessed foods.
But, as we’ve established, for various reasons it’s apparent that many of us may not be getting all the nutrients we need for optimal health.
Lack of nutrient bioavailability, poor dietary choices, restricted diets, food sensitivities, various health conditions (such as gastrointestinal disorders and poor absorption), some medications and age can all play a part in an individual’s ability to meet their recommended dietary intakes.
To determine whether or not you are at risk of a nutritional deficiency, it is important to discuss your concerns with a naturopathic doctor, a qualified nutrition professional or another healthcare provider.
In many situations, as we’ve discussed here, where diet alone is unable to meet your recommended nutrient requirements, therapeutic supplementation may be a good option.
Referenced Studies & Content
 Statistics Canada: Canadian Community Health Survey, June 2017 – Nutrition: Nutrient intakes from food and nutritional supplements
 Statistics Canada: Health Fact Sheets. Fruit and Vegetable consumption
 Health Canada: Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone?
 Health Canada: Vitamin D and Calcium: Updated Dietary Reference Intakes
 Health Reports, March 2010: Vitamin D status of Canadians as measured in the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey
 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011: The vitamin D status of Canadians relative to the 2011 Dietary Reference Intakes: An examination in children and adults with and without supplement use
The perfect herbal remedies for your healthiest spring yet
Spring is just around the corner, and for most of us, it couldn’t come soon enough. Though winter has its charms, namely the cozy evenings by the fireplace and hikes in the snow-covered forest, the short days and blizzards can sure get to us after a while. When spring finally comes, we start to feel alive again. But here’s the thing: as much as we love spring, it’s also a season that can spark its own set of health issues. Read on to find out which health concerns are most common in the spring, and which herbal remedies you can turn to for your healthiest, happiest spring yet.
There’s no better time than spring to kick-start a gentle body cleanse. After the long winter months spent inside, usually exercising less (hello, Netflix!), and indulging in yummy comfort foods like casseroles and roasts, common spring concerns include feelings of fatigue and sluggishness. Other symptoms like sneaky weight gain and brain fog also signal you might benefit from a healthy spring detox.
Start your cleanse by kicking your daily coffee habit and cutting back on sweets, alcohol, and junk foods. Swap your usual beverages for fresh juices, superfood smoothies, and warm tonics like golden milk or matcha. Food-wise, up your intake of fiber and colorful plant foods like antioxidant-rich berries and dark leafy greens.
For herbal support, try dandelion. The whole plant supports a healthy spring detox. Use the leaves as a salad green or steeped as tea to stimulate the gallbladder, support digestion, and for better liver and kidney health. Use dandelion root to clear liver toxins and banish bloat.
Flower buds and blooming greenery are a sight most of us look forward to—but if you’re one of those who suffers from seasonal allergies, spring equals weeks of constant sneezing and sniffling. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, brings unpleasant cold-like symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, and coughing.
Tree pollen is a usual culprit when it comes to seasonal allergies, and common advice to kick hay fever symptoms includes staying indoors with windows closed (sounds like fun?). That’s where herbal remedies come to the rescue. To relieve seasonal allergy symptoms, try nettle. Use it as a tea, tincture, in capsules, or even fresh and whipped up in a tasty batch of wild nettle pesto.
Nettle acts as a general tonic to naturally increase the body’s resistance to allergy, while also lowering inflammation and curbing the release of histamine.
Yes, even though we tend to associate seasonal affective disorder with the cold, dark winter months, spring too can trigger a set of difficult emotions for those of us who have depression and anxiety. Experts blame a few factors when it comes to the spring blues: hormonal shifts, melatonin imbalance, and even inflammation-causing seasonal allergies might be involved in bringing you down.
To kick mild spring blues symptoms, your self-care action plan includes upping physical exercise to trigger a flow of feel-good endorphins. Herb-wise, you can turn to St John’s Wort. Herbal remedies made from the sunny, bright yellow flower can alleviate symptoms of mild depression, especially when combined with light therapy.
Taking off the winter layers and stepping out into the world post-winter lull means your skin is more exposed to the elements during the spring. Common skin ailments at that time of year include sunburn, mosquito bites, brushes with poison ivy, and the occasional nettle sting. What’s more, since your skin hasn’t seen the sun in a while, you can be more prone to a sun rash on your arms and face. Cue the red, inflamed, and itchy skin that makes you wish for just one more snowstorm.
But, as with most things, there’s a herb for that: plantain. The common weed that pokes its head in the springtime also happens to be the ultimate skin savior. Use it as a salve and apply it over the skin whenever needed for instant relief from inflammation and itch.
The return of warm weather can bring anxiety for those of us concerned about Lyme Disease. After all, fun outdoor activities like camping and hiking can up your risk of tick bites. Though there is no guaranteed way to guard against Lyme Disease (besides, maybe, avoiding the woods at all cost!), anyone who wants to curb their risk of getting sick can focus on boosting their immune system.
This spring, try reishi mushroom as an adaptogen to support immune function. Use it as a herbal tea, tincture, in capsules, or even in powder form added to smoothies and hot chocolate for a tasty, immune-boosting treat.
Every February an abundance of red and pink heart shapes fill the media! This year, maybe these Valentines Day tributes can act as a kind reminder to take a look at our own hearts health.
Whether you have a strong family history of heart disease or not, striving to take care of this very important organ — is an essential part of having a ‘prevention policy’ for your own life.
Certain nutrients are very important for a properly functioning heart. One of these major nutrients is essential fatty acids, specifically omega 3s.
The typical North American diet currently provides plenty of omega 6 essential fatty acids (also known as linoleic acid). These fatty acids can come from fried foods, crackers, cookies and other snacks. Too much of these foods can leave us in an inflammatory state, so balancing the effects of too many omega 6 fatty acids is a must for keeping your heart healthy. The anti-inflammatory action of omega 3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), is a great start to doing just that!
They are called essential fatty acids because the body is incapable of making them on its own, so it is essential that they are obtained them from the diet or supplementation.
Small amounts of omega 3’s can be found in foods such as nuts and seeds and fatty tissues of cold water fish. But, since we often consume too many over-processed omega 6 foods — we usually do not get the amounts of omega 3’s from foods needed to balance the overconsumption of omega 6’s.
Supplementing with omega 3 essential fatty acids, provide an easy way to receive the correct daily amount of essential fatty acids. Look for a formulation that contains two types of omega 3’s; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) derived from small wild fish.
Another beneficial effect of omega 3’s is their ability to reduce the viscosity of the blood, similar to the blood thinning effect of certain medications but without the side effect of disrupting the stomach lining. It can also have a positive effect on a healthy blood lipid profile (eg. cholesterol, LDL and HDL) by reducing plaque build-up and allowing for properly flowing blood in the vessels.
There are specific nutrients that are aimed to heal and provide the heart to work optimally.
Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) is a powerful antioxidant that gives energy to the heart muscle cells and helps to lower blood pressure and maintain healthy cholesterol. In fact, pharmaceutical treatments like statins (cholesterol-lowering medication) lower the level of Coenzyme Q10, leaving a serious deficiency of this important nutrient that is important for the whole body, not just the heart.
Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant which will relax the blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure as a result. Vitamin B12 and folate are also important for certain enzymes in the body that remove homocysteine, an inflammatory marker, from the blood. High levels of homocysteine contribute to plaque build-up causing atherosclerosis.
Many studies show that certain herbs are extremely beneficial in improving and maintaining heart health. Garlic extract helps to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels by slowing the platelet aggregation which helps to prevent heart attacks.
Grape seed extract is an extremely rich antioxidant which overall protects the integrity of the inner lining of the blood vessels.
Hawthorn extract is perhaps a little less known, but a powerhouse of an herb in its ability to interact with enzymes in the heart to increase the pumping force of the heart and eliminate arrhythmias. It dilates the coronary arteries to improve circulation and oxygen levels and it can even improve LDL and HDL levels in the blood, thus decreasing plaque build up.
CanPrev’s Healthy Heart is formulated with all of the above nutrients in therapeutic dosages to help the heart with many complex health issues, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and valve disorders.
Another supplement that was formulated with heart health in mind was Can Prev’s Magnesium + Taurine, B6 and Zinc. Now, it was created for people looking for a magnesium supplement that also provided some cardiovascular support.
Taurine acts as an antihypertensive, antiatherogenic and antioxidant to help treat coronary artery disease, ischemia, congestive heart failure and hypertension. Vitamin B6 was added to this formula because it used in the synthesis of taurine.
Remember to speak with your healthcare provider before beginging any new supplement regime.
Besides supplementation, dietary factors are of course important!
An excellent way to start a heart healthy day is with oats. They naturally contain beta-glucan which is a type of fiber that helps reduce cholesterol and boosts the immunity!
Extra virgin olive oil, in the amount of 2 tbsp per day, can help to lower overall cholesterol and improve one’s overall blood lipid profile. But, it is important to use it cold, or adding to food once it is cooked. Olive oil has a low smoking point, so frying, cooking or baking with it can burn this beneficial oil which decreases its phytochemical and antioxidant value.
Dark Chocolate (containing at least 70% cocoa) and red wine have benefits too, mainly from their antioxidant properties. But moderation, of course, is key. Even a consistent amount of exercise such as 20 minutes a day of moving your body, (like fast past walking) can help with improving your overall heart health.
We also recommend a daily dose of laughter and spreading love, to improve your own hearts happiness and wellbeing.
Bone tissue is very dynamic because it is constantly being remodeled by dissolving and replacing minerals to keep the bones healthy. Osteoporosis is a disease where the bone is dissolving and losing minerals faster than it can be replaced making the bones hollow, porous and very susceptible to fractures.
Vitamin K for directing calcium
It is common knowledge that calcium and vitamin D3 are needed for increasing bone health, both of which are fairly prevalent in North American diets. Yet magnesium, boron, zinc, vitamin K1 and K2 are equally important in proper bone maintenance to make sure calcium is directed to the bones and not deposited elsewhere in the body such as the heart.
Can Prev’s Osteo Prolong and Vitamin D3 + K2 are formulated with these nutrients so they work together synergistically in absorbable forms to help maintain bone health but also muscles, teeth and skin.
The pH balance in the body is another factor important to bone health that is not usually addressed or well known. The reason this is important is that the blood needs to stay at the pH level of 7.0-7.4. This is a very tightly regulated system in the body so if the body is undergoing an acidic state (i.e. smoking, stress, nutrient-poor diet, and pharmaceuticals etc), the body will draw from the bones to get the minerals needed that are alkaline in nature.
The alkaline nutrients that are helping to buffer the blood are calcium, potassium and magnesium, the very nutrients we want to stay in our bones!
Can Prev’s pH Pro is a formula containing sodium bicarbonate, spirulina, magnesium bicarbonate and potassium, all nutrients that are alkaline to decrease acidity and keep those precious nutrients in the bones. In each bottle of CanPrev pH Pro there are pH test strips so you can check your pH using urine or saliva. If you tend to be acidic, then start increasing your alkalinity by taking 1 or 2 caps of this formula.
Prevention – start early
The prevention of osteoporosis actually begins in childhood and adolescence to gain as much bone density as possible by the age of 20 – 30 and then to maintain that density for the rest of adulthood. Having a youth’s diet full of healthful nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, K1 and K2 and zinc from a varied diet is essential in providing the building blocks for the bones to grow and be maintained.
Beverages such as soft drinks and energy drinks are popular among youth should be limited. They contain both phosphoric acid and caffeine which increase the amount of calcium lost from the bones. Caffeine causes about 6 mg of calcium to be lost for every 100mg of caffeine ingested. About 2 cups or a 16 oz of coffee contain 320 mg of caffeine which can leach about 20 mg of calcium from your body.
Processed foods are usually very high in salt, which is another substance that should be limited because every 2.3g of salt consumed about 40 mg of calcium is lost in the urine.
In adulthood multiple factors start to add up that can deplete bone minerals such physical inactivity, smoking, stress, alcohol, recreational drugs, increase of salt, caffeine and sugar, pharmaceutical drugs such as corticosteroids and proton pump inhibitors and hormonal changes in women.
Bone health for moms to be
Even pregnancy can leave the female depleted in many nutrients, as the requirement for calcium is very high due to the developing skeletal frame and formation of teeth, thus taking Can Prev’s Prenatal Multi ensures that the mother is receiving the therapeutic amounts of bioavailable calcium and vitamin D3 for the baby.
For those at risk of developing health conditions related to mineral deficiency, or those looking to increase mineral intake and absorption, speak with your natural healthcare provider about what supplements might be right for you.
With a new year now upon us, we might tend to feel more pressure to jump into the latest “cleanse” or “detox” fad that has hit the store shelves!
Our bodies are actually wonderfully designed to detox themselves. In a perfect world, of course. You see the 7 channels of detoxification (the colon, liver, kidneys, blood, lymphatic system, lungs & skin) are all powerful eliminators of toxins and the breakdown by-products of bodily processes.
If everyone maintained a “clean”, whole foods diet and avoided all inflammation causing foods, alcohol and other gut irritants, then the body would be well-equipped to stay physiologically balanced.
However, eating well all the time can be at times quite challenging to do – this may be a reason to bring a little extra nutritional support on board.
Here are 7 easy steps to get your health back on track – no harsh detox programs required
Be kind to yourself
Research indicates that showing self-compassion (and accepting the weight gain, if that’s also the case), will allow for a more successful implementation of lifestyle changes and habit that will set you up for success in many areas of your life – including your health routine.
You’ve heard it numerous times: restrictive, impossible-to-maintain diets don’t work.
So instead, strive for a whole foods eating plan to optimize nutrition and fuel your body well while keeping you satiated and regular.
As mentioned, our body is wonderfully designed to detox itself on a regular basis. If you want to do a more targeted cleansing-type regimen to help you achieve certain goals, feel better or correct an underlying issue, we recommend you work with a qualified healthcare practitioner who specializes in detox. If you already have a whole foods lifestyle then maintaining this during this time will continue to help support pathways of elimination and nutrient needs during a more intense detox.
Better with a buddy
Research shows that a person does much better with a buddy or an accountability partner. They don’t have to be following the same plan or routine as you, but so long as they’re in place for emotional support – that’s what matters most.
So, be sure to put it out there verbally to a few close friends or family members who you trust and who could also use the reciprocal support.
Move your body and break a sweat
Vomit-inducing exercising is not necessary, nor encouraged. What is encouraged, however, is daily exercise of some sort. Just move your body regularly in some fashion – preferably something that causes you to break a sweat. Aim for continuous movement for a minimum of twenty minutes 3 times a week.
Heading outside for your daily movement might give you a chance to catch a daily dose of Vitamin D (if the sun is shining) — enjoy how fresh air and sunshine can change how you feel!
Sleep, sleep, then sleep some more
Both your sleep hygiene and quality of sleep were likely derailed over the holidays — keeping up later hours as well as all the extra social events. But, now it’s time to get back to doing what your body does best: resting. Sleep is something that is still so underrated as a way to truly optimize your health!
Our health experts say that getting in 7-9 hours of deep, restorative sleep is a critical factor in such things as:
- decreasing stress levels
- increasing energy & athletic performance
- enhancing immunity
- stabilizing blood sugar levels
- maintaining an ideal body weight
- keeping mental focus sharp and mental/emotional health in check
“We all need between seven and nine hours of sleep in order to think clearly, and most of us just don’t get enough. One or two nights a week of decent sleep just doesn’t cut it.” says Registered Nurse and Homeopath Janet Neilson.
Get your nutrition and digestion back on track
Here are a few nutrition-specific ideas to implement into your routine to get you kick-started again, especially after a period of heavy indulgence:
- Drink lemon water
You’ve heard it many, many times – but one more time won’t hurt, because it’s just too simple, and effective NOT to try it: drink warm lemon water first thing in the morning before you do anything else.
Why? Freshly squeezed lemon juice is alkalizing to the body, antioxidant-rich and high in Vitamin C, and has blood sugar stabilizing + liver and kidney flushing properties.
Pure lemon juice is known to stimulate gastric juices and increase bile production. Combine this with room temperature or slightly warmer filtered water and you’ve got the easiest “cleanse” imaginable!
- Prolong the fast and eat protein + good fats for breakfast
- Shut the kitchen right after dinner, optimally by 7 pm. Then have nothing but water (or herbal tea) until breakfast, no earlier than 7 am the next day.
This allows the digestive system to have a much-needed break by “fasting” for at least 12 hours (but don’t worry, you’ll be sleeping for most of it), and then easing into the day with a high- protein, easily-digested meal.
Breakfast sets your day’s metabolic tone and with this in mind, your optimal first meal could be a plant-based protein shake. One that combines high-quality protein with healthy fats, green leafy veggies and slow-release high-fibre carbs to keep you full and focused all morning.
If you found that your digestive system went completely off the rails from over-consumption during the past holiday season, then you might need to give those juices a boost.
Gastric juices containing hydrochloric acid (HCl) that break down food in the stomach, are negatively affected by poor eating choices and habits like consuming large portions.
In addition, our digestive enzymatic activity slows down for those same reasons as well. This creates the perfect storm of burping, belching, trapped gas, heartburn, intestinal cramping and flatulence!
The natural bacterial flora of your digestive system will also likely have gone astray.
This is where therapeutic grade supplements can be especially helpful, so be sure to use a good quality probiotic to get your microbiome back in check and restore that “happy gut” environment.
Eating naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha are full of digestion-friendly probiotics as well.
7 easy steps and actionable ways
So, there you go, 7 easy and actionable ways to get your health back on track, holistically and without doing yet another harsh, restrictive detox or diet!
We at CanPrev hope your 2018 is already filled with much health and happiness!
If you’re looking for additional digestive support:
We do always suggest you work with a qualified healthcare practitioner, Naturopathic Doctor or Nutritionist before beginning a new natural health product regime.
Here are some suggestions for boosting the channels of detoxification and elimination, as well as warding off inflammation:
Vitamin K2 might not sound too familiar, it is not one of the more popularly wide known vitamins, like vitamin C or D. Vitamin K2, belongs to the Vitamin K family and is fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin K1 is the natural vitamin found in nature, mainly in green leafy plants and is perhaps the more popular of the two as it helps with blood clotting.
Vitamin K2 is known chemically as menaquinone. It received recognition when research came out investigating calcium supplementation and osteoporosis. Many people who were taking calcium supplements had calcium build up in their arteries and kidneys, where it should not be, and this placed them at risk for heart attacks and kidney stones. It seemed like the body was absorbing the calcium from the supplements, but the calcium was not going to the bones where it was needed. Vitamin K2’s job is to help direct calcium to deposit into the bones and teeth and away from the other areas of your body.
Vitamin K2 is found naturally in the fat containing areas of animals, such as butter, dairy and organ meats. So the fattier the meats, the more vitamin K2 there is. However, leaner meats and grass-fed meats are going to contain lower levels of fat, thus lower levels of K2.
The food containing the highest amount of vitamin K2 is natto. This is a Japanese food that is made from fermenting soybeans but most typical North American diets are not likely going to be very high in natto, thus, including cheeses like gouda or brie, animal livers, egg yolks, and fish eggs are good ways to get vitamin K2 in the diet. But even those foods are not consumed on a regular basis making this a perfect vitamin to take in supplement form.
Most people would benefit from vitamin K2 supplementation. Children need bone-building nutrients for their growing bones. Women, especially those nearing menopause, require vitamin K2 and D3, as a decrease in estrogen decreases bone density. Individuals at risk for osteoporosis or osteopenia and those who are currently taking calcium-containing supplements (i.e most multivitamins and prenatal vitamins) would all benefit from a vitamin K2 supplement to direct calcium to bones and not to other tissues in the body.
CanPrev’s Vitamin D3 and K2 (menoquinone-7) provides an excellent source of these vitamins.
It comes in a base of medium chain triglycerides that allows for superior absorption in a liquid dropper form which is easy to ingest for adults and children. Or an organic coconut oil-based soft gel is available if that is preferred over a liquid.
Simply put, vitamin D3 helps you absorb calcium and vitamin K2 puts that calcium into the right places. So make sure you check your supplements to see if they contain vitamin K2 and if not, pick one up and add it to your daily supplement regime for added bone health protection.
There is a host of scientific studies linking magnesium to many different health conditions, but reviewing these effects one by one is overwhelming and confusing. Instead, it’s more helpful to look at magnesium’s underlying physiological mechanisms. Understanding what magnesium does fundamentally will let us better understand how insufficient magnesium levels might affect our bodies and our daily lives.
Magnesium’s hundreds of roles can be roughly categorized into four basic functions. One of those functions is activating enzymes and another is creating cellular energy. Let’s break down how these processes actually happen and take a closer look at the relationship between magnesium enzymes and energy.
We are kept alive by trillions of chemical reactions that occur in the body. Carbohydrates are broken up and harvested for energy. New tissue is created. Cellular waste products are removed. New strands of DNA are synthesized. This collection of chemical processes is called metabolism.
The speed a reaction occurs will depend on factors like temperature, pressure, solubility and concentration of molecules. We use these factors every day. You might notice that sugar dissolves in hot water faster, or putting food in the refrigerator will slow the rate of decay. When you make a campfire, a hotter flame will burn wood faster.
Our metabolism needs to occur at a certain speed to stay alive. But we don’t have the liberty of turning the body into a raging furnace to speed up these reactions (not without damaging many things). That’s where enzymes come in.
Enzymes are bits of protein that catalyze and regulate almost all metabolic reactions. As catalysts, they reduce the energy needed to spark a chemical reaction and speed up reactions. Without enzymes, reactions that would normally take milliseconds might take hours or days.
Some enzymes require an additional ions or molecules called cofactors to function. Without a cofactor bound to its structure, an enzyme may float dormant, unable to catalyze any reactions.
Cofactor for Enzymatic Pathways
Magnesium is a cofactor for several important enzymes in the body, like DNA/RNA polymerases, used to transcribe new DNA/RNA strands, and guanylate cyclase used to regulate the movement of minerals across cell membranes.
A 1968 estimate suggested that magnesium was a required cofactor for 300 enzymatic reactions. This figure is found in many medical texts and quoted by many scientific papers. Since then, many more enzymes that rely on magnesium have been identified. A search of today’s enzymatic databases reveals over 600 enzymes that magnesium is a cofactor for and another 200 enzymes that need magnesium to be activated.
Magnesium, Enzymes and Cellular Energy
Arguably the most important enzymes that magnesium is a cofactor for are the ones that produce cellular energy. These enzymes form a series of pathways (glycolysis, Kreb’s cycle, phosphorylation) that convert organic compounds like glucose sugars into smaller molecules called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP acts as our main unit of cellular energy.
Every one of our hundred trillion cells manufactures ATP to store and shuttle intracellular energy. ATP stores a tremendous amount of potential energy in the bonds of the second and third phosphate groups. When the cell wants to carry out a function like cellular division or transport molecules across the cell membrane, it breaks this bond and releases the energy.
We use a tremendous amount of ATP all the time. The typical adult only stores about 50g of ATP in the body so each ATP molecule is recycled over a thousand times a day.
To get an idea of just how much we use, let’s look at some back-of-the-napkin calculations. (If you’d like to avoid the math, feel free to skip ahead!)
Assume a typical adult needs to eat approximately 2500 calories of food every day. That’s equivalent to consuming 10,460kJ of energy from our food. Let’s also assume all the metabolic pathways that convert food into ATP energy are about 50% efficient. So of the 10,460kJ of food energy we consume, 5230kJ ends up as ATP. One mole of ATP releases around 50kJ of energy in our cells, meaning the body goes through 5230/50 = 104.6 moles of ATP every day. How much is that by weight? One mole of ATP is 507 grams. 104.6 moles x 507 grams/mole = 53,032 grams or 53kg of ATP processed every day.
Our calculations estimate that 53kg of ATP is used every day. That’s a lot of ATP, about three-quarters the body weight of your average adult human! Luckily, humans are really good at recycling and recharging spent ATP (adenosine diphosphate or ADP) through those previously mentioned metabolic pathways. The typical adult only stores about 50g of ATP in the body so each ATP molecule is recycled over a thousand times daily! Since these pathways are magnesium dependent, we need quite a bit of magnesium on hand to fuel a continuous production of ATP.
Magnesium = ATP
Since these pathways (glycolysis, Kreb’s cycle, phosphorylation) are magnesium dependent, we need quite a bit of magnesium on hand to fuel a continuous production of ATP.
“When you’re the strongest and fittest you’ve ever been, the last thing you think you are is unhealthy and the last words you expect to hear are, you have cancer” — Jill Bunny
The “C” word
Being told you have cancer is something you don’t ever expect to hear at a routine check-up, especially when you’re young and dedicate your life to staying fit. Fitness model Jill Bunny didn’t expect to hear it either. This Toronto native was one of the highest ranked IFBB bikini competitors in the world. To her peers, she was the picture of health physically and professionally. But Jill’s inner strength would soon be tested. Unusual symptoms Jill was experiencing told her that something wasn’t quite right. A double diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and thyroid cancer catapulted Jill into the competition of her life.
To many different degrees, we have all faced health challenges individually. This is the story of a top fitness competitor who fought the biggest battle of her life and came out with a new approach to finding her best health.
Functional nutritionist, elite trainer, life coach and bikini model competitor, these are only a few titles Jill Bunny goes by. Jill has always been fascinated by what the human body is capable of. When she was diagnosed with MS and thyroid cancer at age 30, her passion for health and fitness took a different turn. She retired from competition as the physical toll training took on her body would likely advance the progression of MS and slow recovery from a thyroidectomy to come.
Instead, she found other ways to challenge herself physically and mentally. She continued to train and mentor others through her company, Fit Bunnies Fitness, as she recovered from cancer. It was during this time that Jill found the motivation to learn more about healing from the inside out. Through a team of functional medicine practitioners and her Naturopathic Doctor (ND), she found more preventative ways to manage her MS symptoms. Along the way, her own interest in how the body works expanded and she began to study functional medicine in her quest to find healing and to make her body stronger than ever before.
Jill approached Dr. Nadia Lamanna ND, in April 2017 for a natural approach to managing her symptoms. Since having a thyroidectomy in November 2016, Jill struggled with fluctuating thyroid hormone levels, extreme fatigue and brain fog. The fatigue and muscle pain associated with MS was becoming a major obstacle in managing her business and training for an upcoming ironwoman race. She chose not to take prescription medication but instead managed the disease through diet, exercise and naturopathic medicine. Her chief concerns were low energy, neck pain and long recovery periods after work outs.
Dr. Lamanna ND, began treating Jill the next month with 200mg of CanPrev Magnesium Bis-Glycinate 200 Gentle before bed, one sachet of CanPrev ElectroMag to mix with water and to consume while training, two capsules of CanPrev Adrenal-Pro twice daily, one capsule of CanPrev Pro-Biotik 15B daily, and one capsule of CanPrev Thyroid-Pro twice daily. After two weeks the Magnesium Bis-Glycinate 200 Gentle was increased to 400 mg per day and ElectroMag to two pouches per day because Jill added a cycle class to her evening fitness routine. Jill reported she was taking Synthroid 88 mcg per day when she first met with Dr. Lamanna, this was later increased to 100 mcg per day in early May as directed by her endocrinologist.
Baseline scores were reported on April 10 and after only a few weeks of therapy, Jill reported improved symptoms like reduced neck pain, improved ability to recover post workout and a significant improvement in energy levels. She reported having bursts of energy and diminished grogginess during the times of day that she typically felt her worst. Her TSH in April was 4.79 and dropped to 0.59 in June, after just seven weeks of therapy. Jill’s endocrinologist was ecstatic with the results and asked what she had been doing differently. Her TSH levelled out at 1.15 in July. Jill was optimistic and motivated throughout the duration of the study and overjoyed about the progress she made along the way.
Words from Jill
“The last thing that I felt was missing in my quest to heal, was the implementation of natural, quality supplements. Working with my Naturopath on an individual basis, with weekly check-ins was exactly what I needed to get the supplementation correct. Today, I can honestly say that I have not felt this much energy in at least a decade. Go with your gut and listen to your body. Take an individualized approach to your health and do what you feel is right and works best for.”
Connect with Jill
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, recommend that males and females ages 19-30 take in 400 mg and 310 mg of magnesium a day respectively. Males 31 and older should up their intake to 420 mg a day, and females 31 and older should increase their daily amounts to 320 mg.
The DRI also encourages pregnant or lactating women to boost their magnesium intake even higher and to consult their doctors for suggested amounts.
Sea vegetables (kelp), nuts and seeds, beans, soybeans and some seafood (crab, clams) generally contain higher levels of magnesium compared to other foods. Grains and pseudocereals like quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice will offer you a relatively high amount of magnesium as well. But the real winners when it comes to the most nutrient dense, magnesium-rich foods are fresh vegetables and dark leafy greens like chard, collards, and spinach. Nuts and seeds pack a big punch for their size when it comes to magnesium density too!
True or False: Organic Foods Contain More Magnesium
It is no surprise that choosing to buy organic dark leafy greens and vegetables, can cost you. But if you choose to not purchase organic produce will you pay in a different way? Does buying organic make a difference in terms of mineral (magnesium) content compared to conventionally grown crops?
According to the Environmental Working Group, conventionally grown spinach ranks second when it comes to produce containing pesticide residue.
While some studies conclude that organic food may or may not be more nutritious than conventionally grown, it is safe to say that buying organic can protect you from detrimental pesticides and herbicides that generally act as antagonists when it comes to magnesium absorption and can eventually block mineral absorption and lead to mineral deficiency.
Is Dietary Intake Enough?
Swiss chard contains a whopping 150 mg of magnesium per cup. But does that mean you are covered when it comes to adequate magnesium intake? Not necessarily. Lifestyle, physiological, and agricultural factors all play roles in how dietary magnesium is absorbed. A disappointing reality, but a reality nonetheless!
Let’s Explore Why
Mineral-rich foods are becoming an anomaly these days. High rates of soil erosion account for less magnesium in the soil which results in low mineral content in plant foods including magnesium.
Many fruits and vegetables have lost large amounts of minerals and nutrients in the past 50 years. For example, McCance and Widdowson’s epic compilation, the Composition of Foods, has tracked the nutrient composition of foods since 1940. Between 1940 and 1991, there was an average magnesium decrease of 24% in vegetables and 16% in fruits.
Some foods have seen more drastic declines than others. Carrots have lost 75% of their magnesium content. You would have to eat 4 carrots today to get the same magnesium in 1 carrot from 1940!
And that’s only one reason. The health of our digestive system is also a factor in whether or not we can adequately break down food to get the good stuff. Optimum absorption is key in making sure magnesium actually enters our cells!
Absorption of dietary magnesium isn’t guaranteed, though. Enzymatic function, stomach, and bowel health are key factors in the absorption process. From the beginning of the digestive system (oral cavity) to the very end (the anus), all parts need to be working efficiently (especially the small intestine) for optimum breakdown. Even if our digestive process is working perfectly, mineral content in food likely won’t be high enough to offer our cells optimum protection.
Cooking methods and refined foods can also account for magnesium loss. If we choose to fry that one cup of swiss chard instead of bake or lightly sauté it, we can cheat ourselves out of getting the magnesium we need.
Between mineral-depleted plant foods, compromised digestive systems, and popular denaturing cooking methods, optimizing our magnesium intake via food can become quite a challenge.
Ironically, magnesium needs magnesium to facilitate the absorption process. It’s imperative for helping to synthesize enzymes, repair tissue in our intestinal lining, and contribute to our parasympathetic nervous system health, for starters. In order for these processes to function properly in the first place, we need to have enough magnesium in our bodies to provide energy to get these physiological jobs done and done well.
What are the symptoms of SIBO?
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO, is just that – when bacteria (or other microorganisms, good or bad) grow out of control in the small bowel. Compared to the large colon, it should be quite low in bacterial count.
Colonization also ends up damaging the specialized cells lining the small intestine – a condition that has been coined leaky gut – or an increase in intestinal permeability, which further impairs the digestive process and can exacerbate nutrient malabsorption.
This can allow pathogens, toxins and undigested protein molecules to enter the bloodstream that, in turn, cause widespread inflammation, food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and other undesirable immune reactions.
The most common symptoms of SIBO are:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Abdominal bloating or distention
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Excessive gas or burping
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Joint pain and other inflammatory reactions
- Skin issues like rashes, acne, eczema and rosacea
- Depression, and other mental health disorders
- Restless legs syndrome
- Histamine intolerance
- Fatigue or lethargy
One of the biggest concerns with SIBO is that it can actually lead to malnourishment, whereby essential nutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fats aren’t properly absorbed. This can then cause a number of vitamin & mineral deficiencies like iron, vitamin B12, calcium as well as in the fat-soluble vitamins — vitamin A, D, E and K. 
Wondering why the symptoms sound curiously similar to IBS?
One of the most common conditions associated with SIBO is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 
While they have similar symptoms and are often overlapping conditions, the association between the two still has some unknowns, according to scientists. They remain distinctly different in how they can manifest, how they are diagnosed, as well as how they are treated.
On the other hand, some studies have found that SIBO is concurrent in more than 50% of all cases of IBS, and successful elimination of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine reportedly resolves symptoms of IBS as well.
But, what causes SIBO in the first place?
According to experts, the causes are not clearly defined but predisposing factors to acquiring SIBO can include:
- Diabetes type 2
- chronic pancreatitis
- Crohn’s disease
- injury to the bowel
- a structural defect in the small intestine called blind loop syndrome
- intestinal lymphoma
- immune system disorders like scleroderma
- recent abdominal surgery
- use of certain medications, including proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux medications) and immuno-suppressant medications
Celiac disease has also been found to increase the risk for developing SIBO, as it disturbs gut motility leading to poor functioning of the small intestine. 
Additionally, heavy metal toxicity, low stomach acid, inflammatory diets, and stress – are all thought to be contributors as well.
How can you treat it?
Generally, there are 3 mains goals when treating SIBO:
Most holistic health practitioners advise using some variation on the “SIBO diet” for at least 2 weeks – which may include any or all of the following:
- Herbal antibiotics like oregano oil
- Low FODMAP, GAPS and/or AIP diet – see explanations below
- Re-populating the gut with good bacteria using probiotics, and then “feed” them with prebiotics such as under-ripe bananas, asparagus and Jerusalum artichoke
- stress management – this is key in preventing and managing most, if not ALL health conditions
However, a prescription antibiotic may be needed, at least initially, in more severe cases to get the bacterial overgrowth under control.
By eliminating FODMAPS from your diet for at least 2 weeks, and then transitioning to the GAPS diet or AIP protocol, you can start healing the gut, and can begin to eradicate the microorganisms that are causing havoc in your small intestine.
What are FODMAPs?
These are Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.
These are the foods that aren’t fully absorbed by the body and end up fermenting in the gut. This would include ones we would normally consider ‘healthy’ for us – like apples, pears, apricots, cauliflower, barley, garlic & onions.
What is GAPS?
The GAPS, or Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet, was created by Dr. Natasha Campbell- McBride, Neurologist & Neurosurgeon, in response to the dietary needs of her autistic son.
Foods eliminated by the GAPS diet:
Things like sugar, grains, starchy carbs & potatoes, conventional meat & dairy, and any processed foods including artificial chemicals and preservatives.
What is AIP?
The AIP or Autoimmune Protocol is considered a stricter version of the Paleo diet, which involves the elimination of foods that are considered gut irritants like grains, legumes, eggs, dairy, nightshades, nuts & seeds, and processed foods including industrial seed oils.
Additional eliminations are alcohol and NSAIDs like Ibuprofen. For natural, drug-free inflammation-fighting pain relief, try Curcumin-Pro with Bromelain.
The AIP can be very difficult for many people to follow, but sometimes it’s temporarily necessary to fully heal a very leaky gut, which goes hand-in-hand with the incidence of SIBO.
It may also be wise to supplement with the following when treating SIBO:
- Digestive Enzymes
- B Vitamins, especially B12 – sublingual, therapeutic dose
- Fat soluble vitamins – Vitamin D & K
- Minerals: Iron & zinc
Testing specifically for SIBO can be a bit tricky and it can be difficult to get a definitive diagnosis. So be sure to work with a Functional Medicine Practitioner or Naturopath to effectively test (often with a minimally invasive lactulose hydrogen breath test) and treat this condition, as well as address other underlying gut dysfunctions.
I think we can all agree that there are literally dozens of reasons why our gut health can become compromised. For even more tips on how to have a happier digestive system – READ THIS