By Tirza at Better Breast Health – for Life!™
While I am not a nutritionist, many clients ask me about healthy nutrition. After fourteen years of experience with thousands of clients, some of whom are nutritionists, and much research for personal and professional interests, here is a list of ingredients to consider consuming daily for sustaining nourishment. Oh - bread is not on the list!
(This list is intended for educational purposes and solely for your consideration. Each body has unique nourishment needs. Please seek qualified health professionals for guidance.)
Click each item's \"+\" sign to view a brief explanation, with information like health benefits, product forms, daily recommended quantities, and sources for purchase.
Our bodies, like our lives, are unique, dynamic and subject to change with the seasons and varying degrees of stress and activity. Hence our nutrient needs fluctuate and should be customized to our own body. Our diet should be nutrient-dense, not calorie-rich, and include proper preparation and cooking methods that enhance nutrient availability and/or reduce naturally-occurring anti-nutrients. It should include living, raw, leafy, colorful, alkalizing, antioxidant and enzyme rich, organic foods. It must include healthy fats, as the human body is designed to metabolize fats, not high sugar content, and needs healthy fats to digest proteins and other nutrients, produce hormones, and support many other functions. (Cholesterol too... the brain is comprised of fat that is high in cholesterol.) Below are healthful considerations to augment one's diet.
How Much Water?
Consider consuming at least one-half of your body weight in ounces of pure water daily. For example, someone who weighs 150 lbs needs at least 75 oz. of water daily (more with exertion/stress). I use Eldorado water for drinking and cooking and tap water for cleaning. (Some people alkalize drinking water with several drops of lemon or lime juice, apple cider vinegar, chemically, or through countertop equipment (ionized alkaline water). Note: avoid doing so around mealtimes, so that your stomach and digestive tract can sustain the acidic pH it requires to digest food.)
While our Colorado mountain-supplied tap water has been chlorinated to purify and kill microbes, some municipalities in the US recycle water. What about all the industrial chemicals and prescription drugs flushed into the water system? Do they attempt to remove 100% of trace amounts of chemicals and pharmaceuticals? Is it even possible? I wonder.
Active charcoal carbon filters remove chlorine, sediment, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), taste and odor from water. They are not effective at removing minerals, salts, and dissolved inorganic compounds. Reverse osmosis is effective for filtering dissolved inorganic solids (such as salts), heavy metals, uranium, chlorine, and fluoride.
Colorado’s Eldorado Springs has some of the purest waters in the world. Eldorado water has been tested to be some of the purest and best tasting spring water in the US. Steam distilled water is pure too, but some experts believe that it should not be consumed for prolonged periods since it leaches minerals from the body, and this can contribute to reduced bone density, and its medical term, osteoporosis, among many other mineral-deficient disease states.
Water for Drinking
I purchase Eldorado water in 5 gallon bottles from Natural Grocers and place them atop a ceramic dispenser on a stand in my kitchen. I trust my bottles have not had much sun exposure and I sterilize my dispenser monthly. Remember that excess sun and heat can cause harmful chemicals in the walls of plastic water bottles to migrate into the water. While the thicker and harder plastic bottles reduce this risk, using sterilized glass or stainless steel containers eliminates this risk.
Water Filtration for the Home
While some people invest in multi-stage whole house filters, I relocate too often to make such an investment. So I use an Enviro Products Shower Filter Cartridge to remove chlorine and purify tap water before it hits my skin in the shower. After all, our skin is the body’s largest organ. And I use their 10 Stage Water Filter under the kitchen sink to purify tap water when I rinse my produce, nuts, seeds and sprouts. I buy these filters from Amazon.com.
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The human body needs multi-minerals* more than vitamins. And while minerals can function in the body without vitamins, vitamins cannot function in the body without minerals. Minerals are essential for all cellular activity and organ and system functions in the body - electrically, glandularly, homonally, etc.
It is important that humans supplement with high-quality bio-available multi-minerals as our soils have long been depleted of minerals and farmers only add a few (chemical versions) into the soil while our bodies need 80+ mineral/trace minerals at all times. Natural (earth and food based) formulas are typically more bioavailable and easily recognized by our bodies than synthetic versions. The product form, i.e. transdermal lotion or oral supplement in the form of a mineral salt, mineral acid complex, and amino acid mineral chelate all affect bio-availability.
We need 80+ minerals/trace minerals in our tissues/cells at all times!!!! And the more stressed our bodies are, the more our bodies consume minerals. So for anyone undergoing chronic stress who is not supplementing adequately, their minerals will become depleted, potentially contributing to vitamin dysfunction, physical and mental fatigue (perhaps grumpiness), thyroid dysfunction, immune compromise, osteoporosis and more.
While a good whole food multi-vitamin (non synthetic) is worthwhile, minerals are more important. I typically consume multiple sources of mineral supplements daily, consuming them throughout the day. And I try to use only whole food-based multi-minerals/vitamins rather than synthetic versions, as our bodies assimilate food-based vitamins/minerals much more readily than synthetic versions. (Be sure you consider products that provide adequate levels of selenium, zinc, magnesium, Vitamins A, C, E, K2, etc.)
Mineral products I currently rely on include:
1. Himalayan Pink Salt Mix, which contains up to 85 micro-minerals. I use it to season foods.
2. New Chapter 55+ Every Woman One Daily Multi is a whole-food cultured multi-vitamin containing at least trace amounts of many minerals and micro-minerals. Each day I take two tablets with breakfast and dinner, each with healthy fat.
3. New Chapter Fermented Turmeric Curcumin is also a whole-food cultured and fermented source of curcumin, increasing bioavailability up to 24 times that of extracted curcumin, and clinically proven to support bone growth. Learn more: Grow Bone with Turmeric Curcumin! Each day I take one teaspoon in my greens drinks or with breakfast and dinner, each with healthy fat each day.
4. New Chapter Bone Strength is a plant-sourced, whole-food cultured multi-mineral formulated for bone growth. Each day I take two tablets with breakfast and dinner with healthy fat.
5. TraceMinerals Research ConcenTrace Mineral Drops contains the full spectrum of trace minerals, as it is concentrated seawater from Utah’s inland sea. I add 20-40 drops to the 96 ounces of water I intend to drink each day.
6. Life Extension Neuro-Mag is Magnesium L-Threonate and able to cross the blood-brain barrier. It does not relax the bowels but aids with memory and cognitive function. I take two capsules with breakfast and dinner and two capsules of Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate at bedtime to offer my body another form of magnesium. It does not relax my bowels either. (If you need to relax your bowels to induce movements, know that many clients depend on Natural Vitality Calm (ionic magnesium) as needed to calm the nervous system and/or relax the bowels.)
7. These are in addition to my leafy greens consumption. When I am eating at my best, I typically consume ½ to 1 head of red leaf lettuce (a low-oxalate leafy green) with dandelion greens each day.
(I buy all the above supplements/nutraceuticals at amazon.com).
While our body needs minerals, it does not need the metals that can leach out of cooking ware and silverware. And non-stick cookware has chemicals that can leach into food as well... like plastics. I have replaced my plastic water bottles and kitchen storage containers with glass. I have replaced my metal cookware with 100% ceramic cookware (including tea kettle, wok, skillets and saucepans) from xtrema.com. (I have kept a 12 quart stainless steel stock pot, which I use very infrequently.) If you are interested in replacing some silverware use, consider bamboo silverware and the white porcelain spoons like those used for Chinese soups. I buy mine at Amazon.
* Whenever you take your supplements, be sure to consume them with meals that contain healthy fats to increase absorbability. This is especially true for proteins and minerals, so add healthy oils or fats. (See the Healthy Fats section for more information.)
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When we metabolize food, the process contributes to the pH in the body. To survive, our bodies require an alkaline pH. Hippocrates was a great Greek physician who some recognize as the father of medicine. He practiced the 80/20 principle, professing that a diet comprised of 80% alkalizing foods and 20% acidifying foods supports good health. He also increased the proportion of alkalizing foods in times of health crises. The premise is that most viruses, bacteria, molds, fungus and yeast require an acidic environment and cannot survive in blood - or breast tissue - that is alkaline.
Foods that tend to support an alkaline pH include many vegetables and fruits, particularly those that are acidic to the mouth, like lemons and limes, as well as almonds, avocados, cucumbers, buckwheat and millet flours, and more. Acidifying foods include all meats, which require a substantial amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach to be digested, along with most dairy products, alcohol, commercial coffees, soft drinks, flours, and sugars. So the Standard American Diet (SAD) is acidifying... especially fast foods, often made up of processed packaged foods, white flours, sugars, sodas and meats, and junk foods, coffee, alcohol, and dairy.
In order for the blood to neutralize the acidifying effects of such foods, it acquires alkalizing minerals and calcium from the body. Afterwards, these minerals do not return to the tissues or bone... they have been consumed. So this process leaches minerals from the body and can contribute to osteoporosis, which takes more lives than uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers... combined.
The alkalizing diet is perhaps the most important dietary concept. Go for 80% or greater alkaline content in (weekly) diet. See page 42 of Better Breast Health - for Life!™ for its alkaline/acidic food chart, or click here for one from Essence of Life.
Considering How Diet Can Support Bone Density & Bone Growth:
- eat an alkalizing diet (acidifying foods, i.e. white flours, sugars, sodas, most meats, leach minerals from the body, i.e. teeth, bone)
- eat a broad spectrum of leafy greens to get a broad spectrum of food-based minerals
- supplement with a high quality, bio-available, food-based and perhaps liquid and/or ionic form, of multi-minerals with minerals in the right ratio/proportion to calcium (35 minerals/co-factors are necessary to assimilate calcium to the bone, i.e. vanadium, phosphorous, potassium, vit. D, K2, etc.)
- perform weight-bearing exercise, i.e. isometrics, weight lifting, to grow/maintain muscle mass. Muscles cannot grow without bone growth... grow your muscles, and you grow your bone.
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As a reminder, vitamins cannot function in the body without minerals, or be well absorbed without healthy fats. Choose a good whole-food multi-vitamin (non synthetic) that provides a broad spectrum of vitamins beyond just the ABCs. Look for vitamins E, K, K2, etc. as well. Remember that a good multivitamin cannot make up for a poor diet.
Colorful and leafy produce can help provide a broad-spectrum of vitamins. But since we may not be able to eat the volume and variety of produce necessary to yield an adequate full spectrum of vitamins, supplementation can help.
Have you ever wondered why the ingredients label of a multi-vitamin bottle lists some vitamins having say, 1333% of the Recommended Daily Allowance? Or why such high amounts wouldn’t lead to toxicity? It’s because our bodies can only assimilate a fraction of the amount. However, the body assimilates natural forms and food-based vitamins more readily than synthetic forms.
To enhance the absorption of a multi-mineral supplement, consider consuming them with healthy fats, as some vitamins are fat-soluble while others are water-soluble. Also consider taking your supplement at mealtime for a synergistic effect. (I use New Chapter’s 40+ Every Woman Multivitamin, consuming 3 tablets daily.)
Because some vitamins and minerals are more important than others, or can support specific needs, consider supplementing with a few individual vitamins and minerals, including those below.
The bad news: Many women diagnosed with breast cancer have been found to be deficient in vitamin D. Could their diagnosis have been prevented? The good news: optimizing blood levels of Vitamin D may significantly reduce the risk of more than a dozen types of cancer, including breast, pancreatic, colorectal, ovarian, and prostate. When it comes to breast cancer prevention, vitamin D may be the most important vitamin of them all.
Vitamin D Inhibits Cancer
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3), the hormonally active metabolite of vitamin D, inhibits the growth of many malignant cells including breast cancer cells” by inhibiting estrogen synthesis. ”Calcitriol and its anti-inflammatory actions will play an important role in the prevention and/or treatment of breast cancer.” [i]
Vitamin D US RDA is Too Low
Many vitamin D health experts recognize that the US RDA of vitamin D is inadequate for optimal health. And because each of us assimilates vitamin D uniquely, it is better to monitor the result of dosage rather than the dosage itself. That way you can adjust the dosage to achieve the desired effect.
The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. A level of 50 nanograms/milliliter to 70 ng/mL is considered optimal for healthy people. (70 – 100 ng/mL is recommended when treating cancer and heart disease.) This is in stark contrast to the medical standard suggesting that 20 ng/mL is adequate.
The optimal range offers greater protection from issues including not only osteomalacia (softening of the bones), osteopenia (reduced bone mass), and osteoporosis (brittle, fragile bones), but also thyroid conditions, kidney disease, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, cancers and more.[ii]
There is no risk of toxicity until achieving levels above 200 ng/ml. So 200 ng/ml is the higher threshold for toxicity, and 40 ng/ml is the lower threshold for therapeutic benefit. Ask your health provider or order your 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test on-line (perhaps through the Vitamin D Council.)
Forms of Vitamin D
While vitamin D2 is available through plant-based sources, it is D3 that we really need. D3 is far more beneficial to our health than D2 and only available through animal-based sources like fatty fish, animal livers, egg yolk and raw (unpasteurized) milk. (Cod liver oil is a potent source of D3.) When exposed to sunshine, our skin also synthesizes vitamin D3, which is water soluble, while oral vitamin D3 supplements are fat soluble.
In Colorado we live well above the equator, where there is insufficient ultraviolet-B radiation for vitamin D synthesis from November to early March. Because sunlight won’t be sufficient at certain times of the year or in certain places, and because the body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D declines with age, nutritional supplementation is essential for sustaining optimal blood levels.
Medical Conditions that Increase the Need for Vitamin D
Vitamin D must pass through the liver and the kidneys in order to become available for active use by the body. Hence, diseases of those organs can affect the formation of active vitamin D, including:
Intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s, celiac, cystic fibrosis
Kidney disease leading to failure
Overactivity of the parathyroid glands
Surgical removal of the stomach
Surgical removal of the end of the small bowel (terminal ileum)
Supplementing with active forms may be necessary. However, these forms are not mere supplements, so doctors prescribe them as part of a treatment regimen.
Medications that Interfere with the Absorption of Vitamin D
- Antacids and acid blcokers: Tagamet, Pepcid, Axid, Zantac
Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy, (for AIDS)
Mineral oil or products containing mineral oil
St. John’s Wort
How to Take Oral D3
When you increase your intake of vitamin D3, be sure to increase your intake of vitamin K2. And because vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is best taken with healthy fats like organic: avocado, coconut and nut; and organic, pasture/grass-fed: butter, clarified butter (ghee), egg yolk, and meat. Vitamin D3 also needs sufficient amounts of magnesium, zinc and other trace minerals to work properly, so be sure to stay adequately mineralized each day. For more information on vitamin K2, healthy fats and minerals, please see their separate sections in this document.
While a dosage of only 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 a day may enable you to reach and maintain a blood level of at least 40 ng/ml, I typically consume 5,000 - 20,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily via Thorne Vitamin D/K2 sublingual drops, available at Amazon.com and many health food stores. (I used to use: Carlson D3 drops and Biotics Emulsified D3 drops, but found them less absorbable for me and they do not include Vitamin K2.) It’s important to find the formula and dosage best for your body. I typically consume vitamins D and K with a meal that includes butter, Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil, or New Chapter WholeOmega since these are fat-soluble vitamins.
[i] Krishnan AV, Swami S, Feldman D. Vitamin D and breast cancer: inhibition of estrogen synthesis and signaling. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2010 Jul;121(1-2):343-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2010.02.009. Epub 2010 Feb 13. (Pubmed 20156557)
Vitamin K refers to the group of fat soluble vitamins, essential for blood coagulation and for binding calcium to the bone. Without adequate vitamin K, vitamin D cannot improve bone density, our blood does not coagulate (leading to uncontrolled bleeding) and our arteries and other soft tissues become calcified. Egads. Let’s take a serious look at this under-estimated powerhouse of a vitamin.
Forms of Vitamin K: K1, K2, K3, K4 and K5
There are five known forms of vitamin K: K1 and K2 are natural, and K3, K4 and K5 are synthetic. The synthetic forms are used primarily in industry. K vitamins are similar in structure: they share a ring structure with varying lengths and “side chains” of molecular units. The number of side chains influences which forms of vitamin K are transported to various tissues.
Vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone, phytomenadione, and phytonadione, occurs in plants, especially green leafy plants since it is involved in photosynthesis. This plant-derived vitamin K is the form most involved in blood clotting in our bodies.
Healthy bodies convert a large portion of K1 to K2. Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, has several subtypes, each characterized by its composition and number of side chains. Menaquinones are abbreviated MK-n: M stands for menaquinone, K stands for vitamin K, and n stands for the number of side chains.
The most common type of K2 in animal tissues and products is MK-4. Typically synthesized from K1 in certain animal tissues like arterial walls, pancreas, and testes, MK-4 delivers enzymatic functions distinct from those of K1. Bacteria in the large intestine can also convert K1 into K2, delivering the longer-chain menaquinones like MK-7 – MK-9, which are crucial for calcium plaque removal from our arteries.
Health Benefits of Vitamin K
While K1 is used by the liver to activate blood clotting proteins that stop bleeding, K2 is essential in the removal of excess minerals from soft tissue and vascular walls, i.e. the kidneys and arteries, and in the delivery and composition of calcium and minerals in the bone and teeth.
K1: Blood Coagulation
Without adequate K1, we can experience anemia, bruising, and uncontrolled bleeding.
K2: Teeth and Bone Composition
K2 activates proteins that remove calcium from the lining of blood vessels and deposit it to the bone. Osteocalcin is a protein that organizes the composition of calcium and phosphorus in bone and teeth. Osteocalcin is dependent upon K2 to perform this function. Without adequate K2, bones become fragile and fracture risk increases. Vitamin K2 as MK-4 and MK-7 increase levels of activated osteocalcin and significantly reduces the incidence of bone fractures.
K2: Arterial Calcification
Patients suffering from osteoporosis can have extensive calcium plaque in the arteries, impairing blood flow. “This simultaneous excess of calcium in one part of the body (arteries), and lack in another (bones) – which may occur even in spite of calcium supplementation – is known as the Calcium Paradox.”[i]
The underlying cause is K2 deficiency. Vascular calcification might not only be prevented, but even reversed by increasing the daily intake of K2. K2 activates the protein that binds with arterial calcification. The long-chain subtypes of K2 (MK-7 through MK-9) are the most important for preventing excessive calcium accumulation in the arteries.[ii]
Coumadin and K2 Supplementation
Nearly 10% of Americans use the blood thinner Warfarin, also known as Coumadin. This treatment disrupts vitamin K metabolism and reduces active osteocalcin levels and bone mineral density/composition, so patients can experience significantly increased osteopenia, bone fractures and soft-tissue and vascular calcification.
Since vitamin K can reverse the blood-thinning effect of Warfarin (Coumadin), patients are typically advised to avoid diets rich in K vitamins. However, the latest research proposes combining K2 with anticoagulation treatment to stabilize blood coagulation while reducing Warfarin-induced arterial calcification. Alternatively, newer anticoagulants like Dabigatran and Rivaroxaban do not interact with vitamin K, so K2 supplementation may reduce arterial calcification without interfering with anticoagulation treatment.
Statins and K2 Supplementation
Nearly 25% of US adults over age 40 use a statin drug. “Not only do all of these people need to take a ubiquinol or coenzyme Q10, which is also depleted by the drug, it's quite likely they also need vitamin K2 to avoid cardiovascular harm.”[iii]
Sources of Vitamin K
Vitamin K2 is preferred by the tissues outside the liver, including bone, cartilage and blood vessels. “tissues that accumulate high amounts of MK-4 have a remarkable capacity to convert up to 90% of the available K1 into MK-4.”[iv],[v]
While the MK-4 subtype appears most predominant in animal tissues, other MK numbers found there are derived from bacterial origin.
Except for MK-4, all subtypes of K2 are produced by bacteria, most notably in the large intestine. Large intestine bacteria convert K1 into vitamin K2 subtypes, particularly MK-7 through MK-11. The body’s utilization of MK-7 over MK-4, if any, is unclear and needs further investigation, as does the body’s utilization of the other long-chain subtypes, whose functions are less understood.
The richest dietary sources of long-chain menaquinones are animal livers and bacterial fermented foods like ripe (Gouda, Brie, Edam and Cheddar) cheeses and vegetables fermented with K2-producing bacteria in Western diets and natto (fermented soybeans and Bacillus subtilis) in Japan. Natto is an exceptionally rich source of MK-7. MK-4 is often found in relatively small quantities in grass-fed (not feed lot) meat (including fats, livers and organs), butter and eggs.
How Much Vitamin K Do I Need?
The US Daily Adequate Intake levels of vitamin K are:
25 year-old male: 120 micrograms (μg)
adult women: 90 μg
infants: 10–20 μg
children/adolescents: 15–100 μg
However, the Ministry of Health in Japan has approved 45 mg of MK-4 daily for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.[vi] Hence, “adequate intake” does not necessarily correspond to “optimal intake.”
Also, the half-life of MK-4 is much shorter than that of MK-7, so while a single serving of MK-7 daily may be adequate, multiple servings, i.e. three, of MK-4 spread throughout the day may be warranted.
Dr. Dennis Goodman, cardiologist and chairman of the Department of Integrative Medicine at New York University, and author of the book, Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient for Heart and Bone Health, recommends taking 180 μg per day, in the form of MK-7 (the equivalent of about one teaspoon of natto).
You May Need More Vitamin K
Individuals at risk for K2 deficiency are those whose intestines have been seriously damaged or compromised, resulting in malabsorption, and those subjected to broad spectrum antibiotic use, which can significantly reduce K2 production. Newborn infants are at an increased risk of deficiency and the elderly typically experience reduced K2 production.
Other populations include those who suffer from kidney disease, liver damage or disease (e.g., alcoholics), cystic fibrosis, or inflammatory bowel diseases, or have recently had abdominal surgeries. Secondary vitamin K deficiency can occur in bulimics, those on stringent diets, and those taking anticoagulants. Other drugs associated with vitamin K deficiency include salicylates (i.e. aspirin), barbiturates, and cefamandole (i.e. Mandol, a broad-spectrum antibiotic).
Symptoms of K1 deficiency include anemia, bruising, and bleeding of the gums or nose, and heavy menstrual bleeding in women. Osteoporosis, severe aortic calcification and coronary heart disease are strongly associated with lower levels of K2.
Toxicity of Vitamin K
While there are no known toxic levels for its natural forms, K1 and K2, the “FDA has banned K3 from over-the-counter sales because large doses have been shown to cause allergic reactions, hemolytic anemia, and cytotoxicity in liver cells.” K3 (menadione) is used in some pet foods.
[iv] Davidson, RT; Foley AL; Engelke JA; Suttie JW. Conversion of Dietary Phylloquinone to Tissue Menaquinone-4 in Rats is Not Dependent on Gut Bacteria. Journal of Nutrition. 1998; 128 (2): 220–223. PMID 9446847
[v] Ronden, JE; Drittij-Reijnders M-J; Vermeer C; Thijssen HHW (1998). Intestina Flora is not an Intermediate in the Phylloquinone-Menaquinone-4 Conversion in the Rat. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – General Subjects 1379 (1): 69–75. doi:10.1016/S0304-4165(97)00089-5. PMID 9468334
[vi] Iwamoto, I; Kosha S; Noguchi S-i. A Longitudinal Study of the Effect of Vitamin K2 on Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women - a Comparative Study with Vitamin D3 and Estrogen-Progestin Therapy. Maturitas, 1999; 31 (2): 161–164. doi:10.1016/S0378-5122(98)00114-5. PMID 10227010
The following items are under development.
Synthetic iodized salt.