Possibly one of the most overlooked micronutrients out there, Iodine is absolutely crucial when it comes to maintaining a healthy and normal functioning thyroid (this is where over half of the iodine found in the human body can be found).
Why is thyroid function so important? Well, for several reasons… but the biggest factor that almost everyone will want to be aware of: Metabolism. The thyroid impacts numerous mechanisms in the body that directly correlate to how efficiently the body burns energy, so you want to ensure that the thyroid is performing optimally, and that will have a knock-on effect that will reap dividends.
Not only are a lot of people deficient in this super important mineral, but the bad news is that a lot of multi-vitamins either just don’t include it, or they offer it at an inadequate dose.
Now, if you are one of those people that avoids salt like the plague, then you are most likely deficient, and could benefit from a supplement that offers 100% of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake), which is 150mcg. A lot of supplements may only have 15-50mcg, so try to find one that supplies you with the full 150mcg!
Don’t fancy supplements? There are plenty of food sources. Most people think of seaweed or kelp, which are by far the best (the extracts of which are usually used for supplements because of their super high iodine content); however, you can get a respectable amount from eggs, tuna, lima beans, corn and dairy products too. If your daily food line-up already incorporates good portions of all of these, then you may well be meeting your RDI already.
Another absolutely crucial mineral that can often be neglected. Iron intake is paramount. Why? Because it’s in your blood. Literally. And without it, oxygen delivery throughout the body will not be at the level it needs to be at.
Most of us have heard of ‘hemoglobin’ – it’s the fancy term for what makes up the most essential part of your red blood cells; “heme” is [Greek for] Iron (and the “globin”-part refers to the protein that the heme is connected to. It is the heme/iron that attracts oxygen and carries it through the blood stream (from the lungs to the rest of the body).
Those who train/exercise intensely may be more deficient than others, and the reason is twofold… See, the RDI for Iron is 18mg, and a lot of people actually fall short; however, even if you do get in your “full dosage”, if you do intense exercise, unfortunately, you’re still coming up short, because YOUR requirements will be higher than those who don’t partake in regular [intense] exercise.
Studies suggest that the requirements for the HIIT-loving, Spartan-like warriors out there may be as much as 30% greater, meaning you likely need somewhere in the region of 24mg or so. The reason for this being that iron is readily depleted during intense exercise – think about it: if you’re breathing heavily throughout a workout, you’ve got a lot of oxygen coming in, which needs transporting, which means you need more hemoglobin, which can only exist if you have greater amounts of iron consumed, and then readily available.
Think of it as a fleet of transporter trucks: if you suddenly have huge demand, but not enough drivers (heme), then you’re not going to be able to efficiently deliver the proverbial load/supply.
What are some good sources you ask? Well, there’s a good reason that Popeye was always bursting those cans of spinach – it’s an awesome source of iron! Just one cup will give you 40% of your [normal] RDI. There’s also navy beans, artichokes and beef steak that have a high content too.
So, the ONE vitamin that makes it on today’s list. Why? Because everyone has heard of Vitamin C, B, A, D, and E… And millions of people pop vitamin supplements like their candy! But hardly any of us are aware of a) the existence of Vitamin K, and b) its sheer level of importance!
You’ll always hear me use the Yin & Yang as a metaphor for comparison (like with Insulin & Glucagon, or Leptin & Ghrelin), and when it comes to Vitamin K, it is the proverbial “dark side” to the “light side” of Vitamin D. Terrible pun – I know. (Because we mostly get Vitamin D from sun exposure… get it?). But anyhow, the simple fact is this: if you are deficient in one of these, then the other will NOT perform its functions properly.
So, there are many people who shy away from being in the sun too long (whether it’s because of easily getting sunburnt, or somewhat vampiric tendencies [joking]), and those people may opt to take a Vitamin D supplement, however, it won’t do much good if “the K” is lacking too.
Another critical role of Vitamin K is that it is needed for calcium to bind/fix to bone tissue. So, again – consume all the calcium supplements you want, but if “stronger bones” is what your fixing for (okay, I’ll stop with the puns), then you will have to up your Vitamin K also.
How much do you need? 120mcg. How can you get it [from non-supplement sources]? Well, there are tons of amazing sources! Kale is the Vit-K-King of leafy greens (with just half a cup giving you 100% of your RDI), but you’ll also find high amounts in Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli too.
Zinc (and Magnesium)
Okay, so you get a bonus one added to the list here! Now, if you read my last article: Bio-hack Your Sleep – 5 Ways to Better ZZZs then you’ll already have a brief insight into the Importance of both Zinc and Magnesium. If you didn’t read it, then here’s a little more on why these two minerals are so super important…
Now, I want you to be aware that these two should ideally be taken together (as a supplement), most definitely separate to any other mineral-based supplements you’re taking, but also [preferably] at night (before bed). The main reasons being that they both compete for uptake/absorption with other minerals such as calcium and manganese (and in the case of calcium, zinc & magnesium will usually lose out because calcium is need in far larger doses, therefore, has “VIP Absorption” in comparison).
Both minerals are involved with several reactions in the body that involve enzymes and hormones, etc. Zinc is involved when it comes to melatonin production (necessary for quality sleep). Magnesium is important for optimal cardio/muscular/metabolic health, and – like zinc – supports sleep quality also.
The amount you need of each – like with iron – may be greater if you are something of a “gym buff”, but 15-30mg of Zinc will have you covered, and 450mg of Magnesium is ideal. Good sources of zinc include: beef, chickpeas (or “garbanzo beans”) and pumpkin seeds. And for magnesium, you’ll find that almonds, spinach and black beans are all quality sources.
So, there you have it:
4 … 5 Common Deficiencies and How to Increase Your Intake!
Remember: Train Hard, and Train Smart!
Yours in Training,
Chris Atkinson | Master Personal Trainer, SDO