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 is also fascinated with psychedelics but won't tell if you don't.
We all know that real food tastes better than processed food, but the nutritional value is also higher. Real food is filled with many essential nutrients 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 adverse health effects.
Instead of looking for supplements that your body has difficulty absorbing, look into natural 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, influencing all aspects from protein synthesis to nerve function and even creating DNA.
This nutrient is so essential for your optimal performance. It even controls the production of a brain chemical called serotonin.
Even if people recognize their deficiency in magnesium, it is challenging 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.
Iron is another common nutrient deficiency unless you are eating grass-fed red meat. This is even riskier for vegetarians, vegans, or pescatarians and can lead to strength and muscle health defects.
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 turmeric. A small dosage of turmeric has up to 10% of your daily recommended iron.
Even though magnesium deficiency is a significant 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 inadequate. 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 vitamin D. 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, essential nutrients for brain health.
Whole Nutrition… Then Supplementation
As a specialist in brain health supplements and nootropic drugs, I firmly believe in using modern science to enhance our mental performance. Yet, still, the most significant source of cognitive improvement is seen through basic practices, such as sleeping, eating whole foods, and exercising.
Eating processed whole foods consciously can get all of these essential nutrients from your diet. You can avoid spending money on useless supplements and, most importantly, have a healthier life with delicious ingredients.