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Top 5 Nutrients that Boost Metabolism

Most of us have spent at least some time lately thinking about losing those few extra pounds we put on over the holidays. We know we need to eat healthy and exercise, but what if we could add some nutrients to our daily regime to give our metabolism a boost. Fortunately, we can.

Before I share the best nutrients to boost our metabolism, let’s take a look at what exactly “metabolism” means. Most people throw the word around without really knowing much about it. Metabolism is the process by which the body breaks down food and nutrients for energy and for various bodily functions. Once we understand this concept it’s easy to realize that boosting our nutrition by adding various nutrients to our daily regime can help improve metabolism.

Metabolism-Boosting Nutrients

While a deficiency in any nutrient can play a role in impairing metabolism, digestion, or energy functions in the body, the reality is that some are more important than others. The main nutrients needed to improve metabolism include:

B-Complex Vitamins—The B-Complex vitamins are arguably the most important nutrients for a healthy metabolism. That’s because they literally boost the energy centers of our cells, known as mitochondria, which fuel every cellular function in the body. Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is necessary for the proper metabolism of proteins. Vitamin B12, also known as cyanocobalamin, is needed for the metabolism of protein and fats. But, Vitamin B12 cannot function properly without B9, or folate, which is needed to ensure B12 works properly. Because the B-Complex vitamins work best together and supplementing with one or more can result in deficiencies of the others, it is best to take a B-Complex supplement rather than just individual B vitamins. They usually come in 50 milligram or 100 milligram products. Follow package instructions for the product you select. Some of the best food sources of B-vitamins include: apples, bananas, brown rice, grapes, nuts, seeds, spinach, squash, and watermelon,

Calcium—Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that calcium, in conjunction with vitamin D, increases weight loss in those seeking to lose weight. The recommended daily dose of calcium varies between 800 to 1500 mg for adult men to post-menopausal women, with premenopausal women in the middle of that spectrum. The best food sources of calcium, include: almonds, almond butter, broccoli, carrot juice, carrots, dark leafy greens, kale, kelp, navy beans, oats, sesame seeds, sesame butter (tahini), soymilk and tofu (organic only since soy is heavily contaminated by genetically-modified organisms—GMOs), wild salmon and sardines.

Iron—Needed for healthy cellular functioning and for transporting oxygen throughout the body, including to muscles to help build healthy muscles, iron is necessary for a strong and healthy metabolism. The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) of Iron range from 8 to 18 milligrams for adults, with women typically needing more then men, and menstruating women needing more than non-menstruating women. While many health professionals advise people to obtain heme iron from meat sources such as red meat, liver, poultry, and fish, as they claim it is better absorbed, non-heme (plant-based) iron sources contain vitamin C, which improves absorption. Additionally, red meat, organ meat, and poultry sources of iron typically contain excessive hormones, saturated fats, antibiotics, and other substances that may negate their value. Non-heme sources of iron include: prunes, raisins, figs, apricots, bananas, walnuts, kelp, beans, lentils, dark leafy greens, asparagus, and peaches. Incidentally, most of these foods also contain vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of iron in the body.

Magnesium—This mineral is necessary for the manufacture of energy and muscle formation in the body yet experts estimate that up to 80% of the population in North America are deficient in this essential nutrient. A typical dose of magnesium is 800 mg. daily and is usually taken with calcium supplements. Magnesium is found in almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, figs, lemons, apples, dark leafy greens, celery, alfalfa sprouts, brown rice, and many other foods.

Vitamin D—A low level of vitamin D has been linked with an increased amount of fat. It’s not clear whether increased fat causes low vitamin D levels or vice versa, but I believe that low vitamin D levels may lead to increased fat. That’s because some studies, like one published in the medical journal Clinical Calcium, found that vitamin D helps to control blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance in diabetics, meaning it makes the body respond better to its own hormone, insulin. Moderate sunlight exposure, which is difficult to get this time of year, along with fish, liver, and egg yolks are the primary food sources of vitamin D. Supplementation with D3, known as cholecalciferol, the type of vitamin D that has been used in most studies showcasing the vitamin’s benefits, is recommended.  However, it is usually sourced from fish so you may wish to choose synthetic vitamin D2, ergocalciferol, if you are vegan.  Most health professionals recommend 800 to 2000 IU daily; however, stick to the lower dose if you choose synthetic vitamin D2.

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