Body Signs, Nutrition

The Body Signs Series – #2 Muscle Pain & Weakness

Are your muscles weak & achy, even if you haven’t exercised recently? Then you may consider checking your nutrient levels because:

  • Vitamin D is needed for muscle fibre (especially fast-twitch fibres) and cell protein synthesis, as well as optimal immune function, hormone & heart health. It is also an important epigenetic regulator that influences the expression of hundreds of genes. Other signs of deficiency include myofascial back pain, loss of muscle strength, bone tenderness & pain, hypotonia (poor muscle tone) and joint pain. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with accelerated ageing (btw did you know you can actually REVERSE ageing?).
  • Thiamin (vit. B1) is needed for the clearance of lactic acid and thus B1 deficiency can lead to muscle pain due to lactic acid build up. It is also needed for optimal function of the nervous system and so insufficiency can contribute to neurological pain and reduced signalling in muscle cells. Other signs of thiamin deficiency include glucose intolerance, tingling and numbness, increased heart rate, poor cognition (memory, confusion), poor coordination, burning feet syndrome, abnormal reflexes and more.
  • Dietary protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) necessary for muscle synthesis, amongst many other functions such as hormone & immunoglobulin production. Low intake of protein may not be the only reason for poor protein status – insufficient stomach acid and digestive enzymes can reduce the amount of protein our bodies absorb from our diet.

Of course, there are many other reasons why we may have achy, wobbly muscles. These include accelerated ageing, active viral infection (fever, etc.), chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid, autoimmune & neuromuscular conditions, prolonged bed rest and certain medications.

P.S.

If possible, always check your nutrient status and speak with your healthcare provider before starting any supplementation.

Your body is talking, are you listening?

Body Signs

The Body Signs Series – #1 Cracked Tongue

Have you ever thought how impressive and intelligent our bodies are? Constantly ticking away, sensing and adapting to a whole host of internal and external inputs, and in the processes sending us a myriad of signs & clues about our state of health. Fascinating isn’t it?

In this new series of posts called ‘Body Signs’ we’ll learn how to decode our bodies’ messages from a nutrition perspective (and you’ll be surprised with some of the things we’ll uncover!) But why is learning to read our bodies important? Well, being aware of what is happening in our bodies can help steer our health in the right direction, ease our anxiety, motivate us to take better care of ourselves and build a better relationship with our bodies.

So let’s start with the tongue. It is often one of the first areas of the body to show signs of nutrient deficiencies. Although this sign may not tell us exactly what’s out of balance, it can help guide further assessments.

Both iron and B vits are necessary for energy production, hormone and neurotransmitter function, immune health and DNA repair. All of which are critical processes for our overall health.

Blood tests are usually used to determine iron deficiency, whereas B vitamin levels can be assessed either through blood (standard) or urine (functional) testing. The advantage of a urine test is that it tells us whether your body has enough nutrients to function optimally (vs. a set reference range on a blood test).

Of course, such assessments should never be viewed in isolation – there are a lot of tools we can use in combination to build a clear picture of our nutrition status (including these physical signs and biochemical assessments).

Your body is talking, are you listening?

Nutrients

Vitamin A

Did you know that there are 13 vitamins essential for life? They are essential because each one of them serves a whole host of important functions in the body.

Take for example Vitamin A. It is needed for:

  • Eyesight
  • Immune function
  • Bone growth
  • Skin integrity
  • Reproductive health
  • Optimal gene expression
  • Red blood cell production

This fat-soluble vitamin is found in animal foods as preformed vitamin A and in plant foods as its precursor – carotenoids.

Top sources include:

  • Beef liver
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Dark coloured veggies (spinach, kale, collards, etc.)

Vitamin A status can be tested through a simple serum (blood) test and deficiency can produce notable symptoms such as vision problems, poor immune function, skin and hair conditions, thyroid dysfunction + more (we’ll explore some of those in our Body Signs series).

Zinc and iron deficiencies are often associated Vitamin A deficiency (zinc is needed for vit. A metabolism, whereas vit. A is needed for iron metabolism).

For optimal absorption consume vitamin A and carotenoid-rich foods with healthy fats.

References:

  1. Lord R, Bralley J. Laboratory Evaluations For Integrative And Functional Medicine. Duluth, Ga: Genova Diagnostics; 2012.
  2. Higdon J. Vitamin A. Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-A. Published 2022. Accessed January 7, 2022.
Nutrition

Sports Supplements and Common Deficiencies

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Photography by Comfort

Written by Adrianna McDonald

If you eat a balanced, whole-food diet (be honest with yourself), you’re most likely getting the right amounts of the vitamins and minerals for adequate functioning.

If not (which applies to most), there’s a big chance your body is lacking in important nutrients. Although you may think you eat well, other factors like age and health conditions can impact your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in your food.

Due to our environment and current farming methods our food is not as nutrient-dense as it was 20-30 years ago.

Nowadays soil quality, storage time, and the way food is being processed or handled has major impact on the quality of nutrients in your food.

Unless you’ve had a blood test done it’s hard to know what your deficiencies may be. Sometimes, even if you are seriously deficient for some time, you may not notice it. Unless you know what to look for. The most common deficiencies that I’ve come across are:

  • Vitamin D
  • Magnesium
  • Omega-3

** For more information regarding blood tests please contact Adrianna at Pinnacle Performance for a direct referral to a functional medicine doctor.

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Vitamin D

The requirements for vitamin D are dependent on the individual, their skin colour, place of residence, and exposure to sun. The best way to reach optimal levels is through safe sun exposure or the only other way is through supplementation in the form of vitamin D3. The dosage can be between 2000IUs to 10000IUs or more a day, depending on the level of deficiency and lifestyle.

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Magnesium

In my opinion this is the most important mineral for optimal health, performing a wide array of biological functions. It is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, some including: protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation and helping digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

However, only 1 percent of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood.

There are different types of magnesium you can buy:

Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency

**Highly recommend

Magnesium chloride / magnesium lactate contain only 12 percent magnesium, but has better absorption than others, such as magnesium oxide, which contains five times more magnesium

Magnesium carbonate, which has antacid properties, contains 45 percent magnesium

Magnesium citrate is magnesium with citric acid, which has laxative properties but is one of the higher quality magnesium supplements

Magnesium oxide is a non-chelated type of magnesium, bound to an organic acid or a fatty acid. Contains 60 percent magnesium and has stool softening properties

**Never recommend unless medically advised

Magnesium sulfate / magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) are typically used as a laxative. Be aware that it’s easy to overdose on these, so ONLY take as directed

Magnesium taurate contains a combination of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid. Together, they tend to provide a calming effect on your body and mind

**Highly recommend

Magnesium threonate is a newer, emerging type of magnesium supplement that appears promising, primarily due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane

MAGNESIUM DOSAGES

FEMALES 2,000MG CHELATED DAILY

MALES  4000MG CHELATED DAILY

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Omega-3 

Problem is that majority of diets are high in inflammatory omega-6 fats (think vegetables oils) and too few anti-inflammatory omega-3s. This is believed to be the cause of cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes… (and many more).

The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is 1:1. Its common to see a 17:1 ratio of omega 6:3 which is causing more and more issues.

The human brain is one of  hungriest for DHA. DHA is one main type of omega-3 fatty acid, and EPA is another. About 85%  of people in the Western world are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. The recommended daily intake of EPA plus DHA is about 650 mg rising to 1000 mg/day depending on the individual.

Omega-3 fats are found in flaxseed oil, walnut oil, marine plankton and fatty fish although grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3s than fish.

In my opinion,  it’s good to know your blood work. We all are very busy and often our diets are compromised. That in fact is also a “problem” for a competitor. When preparing for a competition, the diet is very simple and in order to get our BF (body fat) down to a significant level we deprive our self from certain foods (i.e. dairy, fruits). And with the demands of training we ought to take supplements.

As a coach there are few protocols I follow but without the blood work or lab test I too would be guessing.