The Holy Trifecta: Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and Magnesium
When it comes to your health, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and Magnesium are remarkably nutritive allies. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, supporting a variety of functions throughout your body. Vitamin D and Calcium seamlessly work together to protect your bones. Calcium builds and maintains your bones, while Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium and Magnesium work together to provide a similar value. Magnesium keeps calcium out of the soft tissue and within the bones, where it’s needed most.
Let’s start with a deep-dive into Vitamin C. We’ve heard about the benefits of Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, for a long time. Discovered by biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi’s in the 1930s, this remarkable chemical enables the body to healthfully sustain itself and helps it efficiently use fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Centuries ago, when fresh vegetables were not always easy to find, sailors would experience fatigue, weakness, open sores, bleeding gums, loose teeth, and unusual hemorrhages beneath the skin. The condition was known as Scurvy, and in the 15th century, it ravaged sailors and low-income families, causing sickness, disability, and death. Szent-Györgyi’s won a Nobel Peace Prize for his discoveries, the lot of which provided excellent value for the British Navy.
What is Vitamin C?
Commonly known as Ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is an organic compound comprised of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. While our bodies can not produce it, it’s a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits.
In its purest form, ascorbic acid is a synthetic, white solid derived from the sugar dextrose. It can be found naturally in a variety of fruits and vegetables and is known to be an immune-boosting and curative supplement. One of its primary functions is helping the body manufacture collagen, a protein found in every person’s connective tissues, cartilage, and tendons.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are chemical compounds that inhibit oxidation, which is the chemical reaction that produces cell-damaging, free radicals. When free radicals accumulate, they produce oxidative stress in our bodies, which has been linked to a variety of chronic diseases.
Antioxidants like Vitamin C terminate these types of reactions, which reduces free radicals, and keeps our systems in balance. When it comes to preventing disease and improving our immune systems, it’s all about antioxidants.
What Can Vitamin C Do for Me?
- Reduce free radicals and oxidative stress
- Reduce the emergence of chronic diseases
- Reduce high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Slow the progression of vision loss
- Lower the chances of heart disease
- Prevent gout
- Improve iron absorption
- Boost immunity
- Protect memory and thinking
- Reduce occurrences of dementia
- Reduce incidents of pneumonia
Contrary to popular belief, Vitamin C has not proven itself when it comes to curing a common cold or treating cancer. Additionally, when dosed over 2000 milligrams, Vitamin C can cause severe diarrhea, kidney stones, and other issues. Smoking can significantly reduce the levels of Vitamin C in the body.
Foods rich in Vitamin C include: Kakuda plums, Blackcurrants, Acerola cherries, chili peppers, rose hips, guavas, sweet yellow peppers, red and green peppers, thyme, parsley, mustard spinach, broccoli, green beans, cantaloupe, lemons, lychees, American persimmons, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, kiwis, orange juice, papaya, sweet potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes.
What Is Vitamin D3?
Vitamin D is more than just one vitamin. Studies suggest that Vitamin D3 is more effective than D2, yet they are both critical compounds found in the lower layers of our skin. Their primary benefit is that they improve the absorption of calcium and immune function.
D3 and D2 production come through a chemical reaction that’s dependent on exposure to the sun, otherwise known as UVB radiation. This fat-soluble, lower-class steroid can increase our chances of absorbing calcium, Magnesium, and phosphorus, which are essential to human life.
D3 comes mostly from animals and can be found in food like oily fish, butter, and liver. D2 is generally sourced from plants, for example, mushrooms that are grown in UV light, and several other fortified foods.
Because exposure to the sun can also increase our risks of skin cancer, the best way for us to benefit from this vitamin is by taking it as a supplement. Not technically vitamins, D3 and D2 are best described as hormones.
Here are the benefits of D3 and D2:
- Improves muscle strength, mass, and function
- Improves bone health
- Eradicates rickets (a disease that softens and weakens the bones)
- Improves the body’s absorption of calcium, essential for bones
- Reduces the chances of osteoporosis and osteomalacia
- Reduces the risk of early death in the elderly
- Reduces the risk of death from cancer
- Improves teeth health
- Reduces fatigue
- Reduces depression
- Reduces the severity of viral infections
- Decreases the risk of acute respiratory tract infections
- Reduces the exacerbation of asthma
- Reduces inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the forms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- With calcium, we can improve brain function
- Might reduce the risk of flu
- Might aid lung function
- Might reduce the side effects of chemotherapy
A Harvard study has shown that taking too much Vitamin D, in any form, can reduce its benefits and create further health risks. When it comes to receiving the benefits of Vitamin D3 and D2, less is often better.
Hispanic and African-American communities are less efficient at making Vitamin D because the melanin in their skin inhibits it. Some studies suggest 600 IU is sufficient for all adults, and that taking more than 4,000 IU (100 micrograms) can induce toxicity, and cause vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination.
The foods that are excellent sources of Vitamin D3 include fish oils, wild salmon, milk, butter, orange juice, eggs, cheddar cheese, and yogurt. When it comes to nutrients, always choose food over pills.
What Does Magnesium Do for You?
Mg in the periodic table, Magnesium is the lightest structural metal and the eighth-most abundant element in the Universe. It has proven itself as one of the key elements essential to all cellular life.
Magnesium is required for the processes that involve DNA, RNA, and ATP. DNA produces the code for all of the activities of our cells. RNA converts that code into proteins to carry out cellular functions. ATP provides energy to drive living cells.
Because it’s never found free in nature, Magnesium had to be isolated and extracted to be useful. This first occurred in 1808, at the hands of Sir Humphry Davy, an English chemist.
Magnesium has been found in pyrotechnics, lightbulbs, airplanes, missiles, rockets, cameras, paint, Epsom salt, milk of magnesia, and horseshoes. It also fills 2.5% of the earth’s crust. The top producers of Magnesium in this century include China, Russia, Turkey, and Austria.
Why take Magnesium? When it comes to your health, Magnesium is one of seven essential macrominerals, along with calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur. It plays a vital role in supporting how your body’s enzymes function and support your health.
Here’s what Magnesium can do for you:
- Help metabolize food (convert food to energy)
- Prevent problems with bones
- Help create and repair DNA and RNA
- Regulate your nervous system
- Fight depression
- Act as an anti-inflammatory
- Support your cardiovascular system
- Help your body absorb calcium
- Help activate Vitamin D in your kidneys
- Decrease your chance of developing type 2 diabetes (reduces Insulin resistance)
- Synthesize fatty acids and proteins
- Improve the transmission of nerve impulses
- Reduce premenstrual symptoms
- Lower your risk of arthritis and high blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of arrhythmia
- Help prevent migraine headaches
- Relieve anxiety
- Support the body’s glutathione levels (Glutathione is a power-player when it comes to your health)
Be aware that some medications interact with Magnesium, which can cause serious problems. Consult with a doctor or certified nutritionist before adding magnesium supplements to your diet. As with all naturally occurring chemicals, it’s always best to source your Magnesium from whole food. The best time to take Magnesium is one or two hours before you go to bed.
The foods that contain high levels of Magnesium include: dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, sesame seeds, cashews, avocados, fatty fish (like wild salmon, mackerel and halibut), shrimp, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, soy milk, tofu, edamame, oatmeal, broccoli, peanut butter, black-eyed peas, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, peas, lentils, bananas, and brown rice.
While supplements are helpful and healing, do your best to get most of your nutrients from whole food. Given that there are now over 2,000 legal, untested chemicals in our packaged foods, it’s never been more important to feed and nurture ourselves through the most wholesome foods and supplements.
Besides outlining how you can improve your health, the biggest takeaway in this article is that dark chocolate contains oodles of Magnesium and antioxidants. Be happy. Eat more dark chocolate.
Gaia Herbal 101: The Powerful Elderberry
The humble elderberry, of the genus Sambucus, has been a multipurpose herbal workhorse for centuries. Species of Sambucus are found throughout the Northern hemisphere from Asia to North America — throughout the world, elderberry has been used for medicine, food, and wine making.
In Chinese medicine, elderberry is called “Jei Gu Mu,” and is used to treat the “damp” conditions we call colds or flu. It is also used to reduces fevers and treat urinary tract and bladder imbalances — Jei Gu Mu is said to work specifically in the bladder, kidney, and lung meridians.
Eastern woodland Native Americans made tea from dried elderberry plant leaves, poultices for wounds from the flowers, and cooked the berries to make throat-soothing syrups for winter cold and flu symptoms. Evidence of cultivated elderberry plants has been discovered by archaeologists near early native settlements and sacred sites.
In Europe, Elderberry was attributed with magical qualities — folk wisdom said that a person could hide under an elderberry bush to escape goblins, trolls, and witches. There are several stories of elderberry bushes being portals to fairy realms.
Elderberry Medicinal and Protective Properties
Elderberry has been called “the medicine chest of the common people.” As a folk medicine, elderberry has been used to treat constipation, stomach upset, colds, sore throat, and rheumatism. The fruit, or berries, contain antioxidant flavonols and have high levels of Vitamins A, B6, and C as well as iron, potassium, and calcium.
While it is known that cancer cells may appear in the body at any time, it is the combination of robust immune function with a diet rich in flavonoid antioxidants that helps to stop rogue cells in their tracks, preventing tumor formation.