This is a post from Mansal Denton, the manager and co-founder of Nootropedia, a nootropics and brain health brand that produces content and software tools to improve mental performance. He also has a fascination with psychedelics, but he won’t tell if you don’t.
We all know that real food tastes better than processed, but the nutritional value is higher as well. Real food is filled with many essential nutrients that humans need for optimal mental and physical performance. Being deficient in these nutrients isn’t rare, unfortunately. Most people don’t get nearly enough of these nutrients, which creates a cascade of negative health effects.
Instead of looking for supplements that your body has a hard time absorbing, look into real foods to acquire the following essential nutrients.
In the developed (western) world, magnesium is the second highest deficiency after Vitamin D. Magnesium is responsible for regulating over 300 enzymes in the human body, which influences all aspects from protein synthesis to nerve function, and even creating DNA. This nutrient is so important for your optimal performance, it even influences production of a brain chemical called serotonin.
Even if people recognize their deficiency in magnesium, it is very difficult to find a source of the nutrient that is well-absorbed by the body. That’s one of the reasons it is best to find magnesium through real foods. Cocoa is a natural source of magnesium that the body can absorb easily. It also tastes much better than a magnesium glycinate supplement!
Unless you are eating grass fed red meat, iron is another common nutrient deficiency. For vegetarians, vegans, or pescatarians this is even more of a risk and can lead to deficiencies in strength and muscle health.
Even though a doctor might tell you to take a standard iron supplement, you’ll find far more bioavailable iron from traditional whole foods like cocoa powder and even turmeric. A small dosage of turmeric has up to 10% of your daily recommended iron.
3. Vitamin D
Even though magnesium deficiency is a major concern in the western world, there is only one nutrient we lack more: vitamin D. It seems silly that westerners would be deficient in the “sunlight” vitamin, but people in colder climates (away from the sun) are typically deficient. These days we spend so much time indoors and out at night that it is hard to get all the vitamin D we need from the sunlight.
Luckily, we can allow our fish products to collect the vitamin D for us. Many fish are filled with vitamin D including the menhaden fish oil, which is caught and harvested from U.S. waters. Beyond the benefits of vitamin D, this fish oil also has omega-3 DHA and EPA, which are essential nutrients for brain health.
Whole Nutrition... Then Supplementation
As a specialist on brain health supplements and nootropic drugs, I’m a firm believer in using modern science to enhance our mental performance. Yet, I still believe the greatest source of cognitive improvement is seen through basic practices, such as sleeping, eating whole foods, and exercising.
By eating whole foods that are processed in conscious ways, you can get all of these essential nutrients from your diet. You will be able to avoid spending money on useless supplements and, most importantly, you’ll have a healthier life with delicious ingredients.