Key Nutrients for Weight Loss

October 7, 2023

Our bodies need specific vitamins and minerals so we have energy, focus, good moods, and optimal metabolism. Have you ever thought about that? Your body craves nutrient dense foods in order to thrive. Today we’ll have a conversation on real food vs ultra-processed food, key vitamins and minerals your body needs for good metabolism, common symptoms of deficiency, and which foods to incorporate to feel your best.

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LEAH: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We are a company specializing in nutrition counseling and education. I love working in this field and at this company because there's definitely a need for science-based nutrition information. My clients and students in my classes often tell me they get confused by all the mixed messages that are out there. They'll come in to meet with me and they ask, okay, what should I be eating; low fat, low carb, paleo, keto, Mediterranean, low calorie, low FODMAP. I mean, the list could go on and on. There's so many different styles and ways of eating out there.

And these questions, they're not born out of ignorance. On the contrary, our clients are very smart, very clever, very well-researched people, but I think it just goes to show the amount of information that's out there and just the level of noise that's coming at them at all times from the wellness and diet industry.

So my name is Leah Kleinschrodt, and I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. I meet with clients one-on-one in person, and via Zoom. And I also teach a variety of nutrition classes. And one of my favorite things about this job is to help clients cut through some of that noise that I was just talking about and find a way of eating for them that is based mostly in whole foods. It helps them feel great. And one thing that I think is really important is that it's a, it feels like a sustainable way of eating, that they could eat this way forever for the rest of their lives. My cohost today is Monica Hoss. Monica, please introduce yourself.

MONICA: Yes. Hello everyone. Good morning. I'm Monica Hoss. I'm also a Licensed and Registered Dietitian, and I see clients in our Woodbury office along with virtually. And I'm also a nutrition educator, so I teach some of our classes. And I can really relate to what you said, Leah, because many of my clients as well, and class members, they just come to us so confused with all that, these mixed nutrition messages, that nutrition noise that we like to call it. And people really want to do what's best for their health.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

MONICA: So they, they need someone to guide them to what, what's really, what do we need to be doing?

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

Our philosophy is science-based

MONICA: So our philosophy is science-based, and it's also a timeless message that hasn't changed from the way people were eating over a hundred years ago. Before processed foods became common, you know, most Americans were eating really simple foods. Much of it was grown on their own land, or they were getting it from local communities. You know, protein was coming from cows that were grazing in the pasture, or chickens roaming around the grass. Alternate sources of protein came from fishing and hunting wild game.

LEAH: Yeah. And like milk that they were drinking came right from the cow. The butter was churned from that milk. Produce was grown in that rich soil, and they ate mostly seasonal vegetables, herbs, fruit. And really truly too, we think about, many people love fruit, but fruit wasn't always available year-round like it is today. And yes, that's a, that is a great technological advance. But thinking about, especially here in Minnesota where we have big variations in the season, like that just wasn't a thing. We couldn't always get bananas and raspberries in December and January and February. So like that was a little bit more seasonal dependent.

MONICA: Yeah, absolutely. My son loves peaches, and in the winter he's always like, can you find peaches for me? And I have to explain to him, no, we, we can't find peaches in Minnesota in the winter. But Leah, you and I are really passionate about our Nutritional Weight and Wellness real food message because it's becoming a thing of the past. And we believe that that message really needs to be kept alive.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. Yeah, absolutely. And the unfortunate part is that when heavily when processed foods were introduced and, and really heavily marketed, I mean especially, you know, nine since the 1950s, probably really even before that, you know, kind of World War II, even pre-World War II era, the real food message has been getting lost. And one of our big goals is, as you mentioned before, is just to bring back that simple message of real food.

MONICA: Yeah. Things look very different today, especially when you go to the grocery store. And when I was preparing for the show, I found research from Northeastern University's Network Science Institute. This was done in November, 2022. And it showed that 73% of the U.S. food supply is ultra processed.

LEAH: Ugh, man, that's a lot. That's three quarters of our food supply.

What are ultra processed foods?

MONICA: Yeah. And so what, okay, what does ultra processed mean? Well, these are foods that have multiple ingredients that are not ingredients we would find in our own kitchens at home. So there's a huge variety of what we would call processed foods. Some are less processed, but really these ultra processed foods, they have a lot of chemicals, additives, sweeteners, colorings, preservatives. They're not foods that we would recognize.

LEAH: Yeah. Yep. Absolutely. And oftentimes what happens is these ultra processed foods don't keep the original nutrients, and they don't have any of the same qualities as that original food. So, as, as Mel would say, I mean, we don't, there's no bagel bush out there. You can't pick a Triscuit from a tree; like that's, you know, those foods are not real foods. They're definitely more in that ultra processed food spectrum. So we are trying to kind of dial that back and, and get to what does come off of the bush, what does come off of the tree? What can we grow from the ground or what kind of lives in the barn? That's what, those are the types of foods we're trying to get back to.

MONICA: Yes, absolutely. So some examples of ultra processed foods would be things like cereal, chips, flavored yogurts, chicken nuggets, you know, and food companies make a lot of these foods because they're cheap to make. And they last a long time on the shelf. So it's easier for them to make money when customers shop for these foods because they don't expire.

LEAH: Yes. Or they, they expire after many years instead of after just a few weeks on, on the shelf and, and they're tasty. There's no arguing that. Right? They're tasty.

MONICA: And convenient.

LEAH: Yeah, they're tasty and convenient. So, you know, the, the things stack up in that favor. They have, they use those precise combos of salt, sugar, fat to really flavor things up. And we, consumers, we eat them up and then we ask for more. So food companies being good companies, you know, companies are there to make money. They are being good companies and they give us what we want and hey, well, you know, if we make a little money on the side, like it's just, it's good business, then all around.

So as real food dietitians, we love helping our clients start to break that cycle of buying and eating processed foods. And we really start, we really help clients start to look at, okay, what is the level of those ultra processed foods in our diet? And how can we start inserting those more minimally processed, or better yet foods that are in their original form and not processed at all? How can we start replacing some of those processed foods with less processed or minimally processed options? So our bodies need specific vitamins and minerals, so we have energy, so we have focus and we have good moods and a good functioning metabolism. So I wonder how many listeners out there have thought about that before, that your body craves dense foods in order to thrive.

MONICA: Yeah, that's a great question. And a lot of our clients, I would say the majority are coming to us with weight struggles.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

MONICA: So listeners, if you're someone who struggles with your weight, know that you're not alone. 70% of Americans are overweight and 40% are considered obese. Our show topic today is Key Nutrients for Weight Loss. Leah and I are really excited to share with you the key vitamins and minerals that your body needs in order to be at a healthy, comfortable weight and give your body the foods that needs to thrive.

LEAH: Yeah. Yes. So did you know that many of the key vitamins and minerals your body needs for a good metabolism are also the same vitamin and mineral deficiencies that are the most common population-wide? So, you know, I think I'll, I'll leave, I'll list off a couple of these before we get into break, and then we'll start to revisit and dig deep into these when we come back. So according to Rupa Health, which is a company out there that helps practitioners and patients with specialty lab work, Americans have the following deficiencies: 95% of people are deficient in omega three fatty acids. 95% are deficient in vitamin D, 89% are deficient in vitamin E, 53% are deficient in magnesium and 39% are deficient in vitamin C.

MONICA: Huge numbers.

Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fiber

LEAH: Yeah. Huge numbers. And so we'll get into that more on the other side of break. So you were listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and today we are discussing a few of the key nutrients that support weight loss. Of course, cooking food in your own kitchen is the best way to obtain most of these nutrients. Now part of our core message at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to get a healthy dose of vegetables as your carbohydrates. Veggies load your body up with lots of vitamins and minerals and fiber. So are you getting bored with the veggies you prepare and eat? Or maybe you're just not quite sure how to prepare veggies so that they do taste delicious. Or what if you're just someone who doesn't like vegetables, period? Well, chef Marianne is here to the rescue and Monica will have more details for us on the other side of break.


MONICA: Welcome back to Dishing of Nutrition. I'm Monica Hoss here with Leah Kleinschrodt today. There is a fabulous cooking class coming up this Wednesday, October 11th at 6:00 PM Central time. It's called Vegetables: Raw, Roast, Steam and Sauté. In this virtual demo cooking class, you'll learn all kinds of ways to eat a variety of veggies. You'll walk away with tips on how to make your favorite veggies taste even better, as well as how to prepare some new veggies so you have more go-to options. We know that when you have delicious vegetables, you're going to be more likely to eat them.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. Absolutely. And our culinary expert chef, Marianne, will be leading this virtual class. You can check it out and sign up on our website, If you have questions about this offering, feel free to call our main office at (651) 699-3438.

Sign Up for a Cooking Class

And this class is a, it's a great deal. It's only $25 for 75 minutes. And one of the, actually the things I love most about this is that you receive a link to the recording and you have three days to view that class. So if you sign up with the best of intentions of trying to make it on the actual night on October 11th and something, you know, life happens, or we even forget sometimes where we're at in our day, you still have three days to go back and watch that. You won't necessarily have the live like chat element to it necessarily, but at least you don't completely miss out on that opportunity. So I love that there's that built in flexibility with this.

MONICA: Yeah, and you get the recipes too.

LEAH: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, you still get all, you still get all the resources, the recipes, the shopping list, all that good stuff. So again, you don't miss out if you can't be there on that specific night.

Common nutrient deficiencies coincide with nutrients that help our metabolism

So, alright, so we were, you know, before we went to break, we kind of left off with talking about some of the main nutrients that we as Americans tend to be most commonly deficient in. And so those top ones that I mentioned were omega three fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin C, I mean, there's definitely others in that mix as well. But I think we're going to kind of latch onto most of these and really do a deeper, a deeper dive into some of these why we're deficient or you know, where, what foods are these nutrients in and, and how do we replete our body with some of these nutrients.

MONICA: Yeah. So one of my favorite people to follow on social media is Dr. Mark Hyman.

LEAH: Yes, I love him.

MONICA: Yes. A lot of us follow him. He is a functional medicine doctor and he shares a lot of great information. And when I was preparing for the show today, I came across this really eye-opening quote from him. Dr. Hyman says, “We are a nation that is overfed but undernourished.”

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

MONICA: So let that digest for a second.

LEAH: Yeah, I, I've heard him say that before and I think, yeah, that sums it up very nicely. And what he's, I think when, what goes through my brain, what he's trying to say is nowadays in today's food environment, we don't have a hard time getting enough energy. We don't have enough trouble, we don't have trouble getting enough calories from our diet. What we do have trouble with is getting nutritious energy, getting nutritious calories from our foods and from our diet.

So, you know, again, people tend to think like, well, oh my gosh, we have 70% of Americans are overweight. Like, how can we be undernourished? But it's true that 70% of Americans can be overweight. So again, like we are overfed in that sense, but most people still are not getting the minimum required requirement of vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy to feel their best or to lose weight.

MONICA: Yes, absolutely. That's why we always say we want to focus on the nutrient dense foods, not calories because it makes a huge difference.

LEAH: Yep.

MONICA: So let's break that down. Having a couple cups of cereal with milk for breakfast, that's not really going to give our bodies what they want and need, which is protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids. Cereal is quick, it's convenient, but after eating, you know, this big bowl of cereal with milk, our body is still starving for what it needs. The lack of nutrients in your cereal breakfast is going to turn on hunger hormones for survival. And this forces us to keep eating in an attempt to get more vitamins and minerals into our bodies.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. So if you've ever wondered why it's common to be overweight and undernourished, it's from eating, from overeating those empty processed calories.

MONICA: Exactly. So, you know that breakfast cereal, empty calories, lacking in nutrients. So what are some examples of breakfast that have the vitamins and minerals our bodies need for health and weight loss?

LEAH: Yeah, it, it's a great question. And before we answer that question, I want to dive into the, again, like our first set of nutrients that will help our bodies, help our metabolisms, mood, things like that, we'll come back to that breakfast option in just a second. So, you know, we have that lengthy list of vitamins and minerals that I listed off before that we tend to be deficient in. Then we've got some other nutrients that will help boost metabolism. And actually this is, this is a group that we didn't mention in that that very first list.

B vitamins and their health benefits

So I want to start actually with B vitamins. So I will often have clients come in and we're going over their list of supplements and they're either taking like B12 or they're taking a B complex. And I'll ask them, okay, what, what are you taking this for? And they'll say, well I think it's supposed to give me energy. And I'm like, okay, well you’re, you are right in that sense. B vitamins are great for energy, they're great for helping our brain work well and they're actually great for helping stabilize our moods.

So if you have, if you struggle more with low energy, with brain fog, with lower moods, you may not be getting enough of these B vitamins and there are eight forms of vitamin B, this whole vitamin B complex, and they all play a role in everyday bodily functions.

MONICA: Right. So let's go over those B vitamins. And you don't need to memorize these, but we know our listeners love details. So here are the eight B vitamins: vitamin B1 is thiamine, B2: riboflavin, B3: niacin, B5: pantothenic acid, B6: pyridoxine, B7: biotin, B9: folate. And then B12 is cobalamin.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. Yep. So there's this big grouping of the B vitamins and they, they do just fall under that, they all fall under that category as being B vitamins. So they all, they're interrelated and they all have similar functions but they all are just slightly different. And so we are actually going to talk about the foods that have these B vitamins when we come back from break.

How do ultra processed foods affect the heart?

So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. A statistic we mentioned during the show today was that three fours of the foods available in our grocery stores are considered ultra processed. Ultra processed foods don't have any of the same nutrients a food would have in its original state. And this is the main reason people become deficient in key minerals and vitamins. Have you ever thought about your heart and how ultra processed foods affect the heart? We'll be right back after the break with more information.


MONICA: Welcome back. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Have you ever thought about ultra processed foods and how they affect the heart? Kara and Kristie hosted a Dishing Up Nutrition episode on this very topic. You can find it on our website or Spotify, iTunes. The show is titled “What Foods Cause Heart Disease?” And it's from October 29th, 2022. In the show, they talk about a study from August 2022 and the study found that people who ate the most highly processed foods were at a higher risk of dying from heart disease. It's a really interesting show. So I encourage you listeners to go look it up.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. I think they, both, Kara and Kristi made a great, a great pair on that show and they've covered a really important topic, 'cause that's a big thing that we see clients about all the time; right; cholesterol stuff, heart disease stuff, you know, wanting to prevent what's, what their family history looks like oftentimes. So really a very popular topic for most people.

MONICA: Yeah, absolutely.

What foods contain B vitamins?

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. Yep. So we were, before break, we were getting into the B vitamins a little bit more, and Monica, you listed off what all those B vitamins are. And so let's circle into what foods have those B vitamins, what are we looking at?

MONICA: Yeah, so this is where we get back to really what our great grandparents were eating in the early 1900s. So let's think about that. They didn't experience the obesity and vitamin mineral deficiencies that we experienced today because they only had access to real whole foods. Beef and chicken, preferably grass-fed beef and organic free-range chicken, those are going to be even higher in B vitamins when we compare them to conventionally raised animals. Eggs, again from pastured chickens. Fish: think wild caught is best. Also nuts, seeds and avocado are all rich in B vitamins. And of course liver, liver is the highest, especially in vitamin B12. So if you're okay with a quality source of liver, then that's really going to give you a huge dose of nutrients.

LEAH: Yeah. So that begs the question, Monica, do you do liver in your household?

MONICA: If I'm being honest, no. I'm a little scared of liver. I've never, I've never tried it actually. It’s not something I grew up with.

LEAH: Yeah, it's not typically something that we see a lot in our food environment or in the, you know, the American culture type of thing. Yeah. I, I mean, I'm kind of in the same boat as you. I've dabbled with liver here and there in the past, and sometimes I'll kind of get a little fire lit under me to be like, okay, let's, let's incorporate some liver in these sloppy joes or like mix it into some ground meat and stuff like that. I definitely don't do it super consistently, but it's it but my husband grew up eating liver and onions a lot.

So, you know, and he is fine with it. And I know I've had a lot of clients as well, like liver and onions is a big thing, or it was just again, kind of part of growing that growing up experience where you ate some of the other organs and those organ meats and especially liver have some of the more the, the highest in a lot of these nutrients. And unfortunately it's just not something that most of us tend to eat a whole lot of.

MONICA: Yeah. I might, I might try that trick of, you know, cooking up a little bit and mixing it with like a ground meat.

LEAH: Yeah.

MONICA: Hopefully my husband is not listening and he won't know.

LEAH: Yeah. Hopefully turned off the radio for a little while, so…

MONICA: Sneak it in one of these days and report back.

What are some healthy breakfast examples?

LEAH: Yep. For sure. Yeah. So if we're thinking back to, okay, so we posed that question a little while ago, like, what would a better breakfast look like as opposed to cereal and milk? Think eggs and avocado for breakfast would be a great way to start the day instead of that cereal that has more of the empty calories and doesn't have some of those good proteins, some of those good B vitamins, some of that fiber in there that we need for energy and to have a good metabolism and have some of that weight loss.

MONICA: That is my favorite breakfast. I probably eat it most days of the week because it's really the breakfast that makes me feel the best and keeps me going all morning.

LEAH: Awesome.

MONICA: All right. So B vitamins are important. What's another one besides those B vitamins?

Magnesium and its health benefits

LEAH: You know, you know, if you've listened to Dishing Up Nutrition for any length of time, this one's not going to surprise you. If you heard us talk about a mineral called magnesium. This is my personal favorite. I, you know, if I had to have, I know I've said this before, but if I had to have a favorite mineral, it would be magnesium. When it comes to magnesium, just like a lot of nutrients, the majority of Americans don't get enough from food and are deficient. So we usually get magnesium, and we'll talk about this in just a minute, but we usually get magnesium through a lot of our plant foods. We are supposed to get a lot of that through the soil that those plants are grown in. But over time, with the farming practices that we have, our soil doesn't have as much magnesium as it used to.

And then we have lots of things in our daily lives that deplete us of magnesium. So think exercise and, and no exercise is not a bad thing, but it does, it does make us kind of leach out that magnesium a little quicker. Being stressed out, that's a big…

MONICA: That's a big one.

LEAH: That's a big one. And, and one that's hard to combat. Eating sugar, drinking soda or caffeine or alcohol, these are things that will just kind of leach a lot of that magnesium out of our bodies. So it's, in this modern world, it's hard not, it's not hard to be deficient in magnesium.

MONICA: Right. And magnesium plays such a big role, I think it's something people don't realize, but it's present in over 300 different processes in your body. And really importantly when it comes, well to weight loss, the topic of this show, is that it helps with the metabolism of glucose and insulin. So if we have enough magnesium, it's easier for insulin to carry glucose or that sugar into the cells to be used for energy. This helps to prevent fat storage. So another way to think about this is that when we have optimal levels of magnesium, it makes our cells more sensitive to insulin, which is a good thing. It's what we want.

LEAH: Absolutely.

MONICA: So what are signs of being low in magnesium? Insomnia or having difficulty sleeping, which is a big one for a lot of clients, restless leg syndrome, muscle cramps, especially those like Charlie horses in the middle of the night, just feeling tight muscles, constipation, high blood pressure. So many of my clients have these symptoms and they find that when they start to focus on adding in those foods that are high in magnesium and sometimes a supplement as well, especially for sleep, that their symptoms go away like magic.

Foods high in magnesium

LEAH: Yeah. And some of those foods, the nice thing is that they're pretty much the same foods that we had just listed that are also high in B vitamins. So think meat and nuts and seeds, avocados, and also lots of leafy green vegetables like spinach. And one thing, again, as doing a little research for the show last night that I, you know, I was reminded of is that pumpkin seeds are really high in magnesium. They're actually one of the highest concentrated magnesium foods kind of within those categories. So even an ounce, or you think a couple tablespoons of pumpkin seeds will give you, you know, at least a hundred, somewhere between a hundred to 200 milligrams of magnesium.

So we have Halloween coming up here, and for people that will be carving pumpkins and, and putting them out and scraping all those seeds, don't throw them in the garbage. They actually have a nice source of magnesium in there.

MONICA: Yeah. That's a great tip. I love pumpkin seeds.

LEAH: Yep.

MONICA: So if you do have symptoms of magnesium deficiency, it, it might be necessary to take a supplement at least for a while to get your levels back up, get rid of those symptoms. And I notice a huge difference when I take Magnesium Glycinate, especially before sleep. I mean, a lot of times supplements you might not notice a difference right away, but with magnesium, I notice it instantly. I get better sleep. And there's different forms of magnesium. Magnesium glycinate is a very absorbable form. And usually people, we start them out with 300, 400 milligrams a day to correct their deficiency or improve symptoms.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. I'm all on board with you there too. I, I take magnesium every night and it definitely, I do notice the nights where I miss it or don't take it, there is definitely that noticeable difference there. Yes. So magnesium, that's a really crucial one, one of my favorites.

Vitamin D and its health benefits

So let's shift into talking about a, one of the other nutrients. Another important vitamin for weight loss is vitamin D, otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin. So vitamin D is crucial for helping with moods, energy. It helps us ab absorb calcium that we're taking in either from our foods or from a supplement. But research has also found that having enough vitamin D has been found to decrease belly fat. So that's, you know, the weight that you tend to gain around the midsection.

MONICA: And that's a stubborn weight, I feel that's a really big concern with people. They're, a lot of times they're like, it doesn't matter what the scale says so much, I just want that belly fat off.

LEAH: Right. Yep.

MONICA: So it's really interesting that we've talked about the B vitamins, magnesium and now vitamin D. And I'm just thinking that again, a lot of the foods that are high in vitamin D are the same as a lot of the foods we've already been mentioning this show.

LEAH: Yeah. It, I, no, I noticed that also, and I think it just goes to show it's not coincidence that the biggest nutrient deficiencies that the American population has these days, it, you know, a lot of these can be corrected by eating the same foods. This just tells us that not enough people are eating high quality animal proteins, leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and avocados.

MONICA: It's that real food that comes from a farm.

LEAH: Yeah. And, and it's not, you know, not one specific food for this, not one specific food for that. And trying to marry it all together. It's, it's, once you do the thing, once you do the real food, you're covering a lot of bases just by doing that.

Vitamin D sources

MONICA: Yeah. I love that. So the richest vitamin D foods are, you know, thinking about the eggs with the yolk. So it's really important to eat the yolks because that's what's going to have the high concentration of omega three fatty acids. Other vitamin D sources are cold water fatty fish. So salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel. And if you can find wild salmon that's going to have a lot higher levels than the farmed salmon. And then back to our dear friend, liver, also very high in vitamin D. And you know, maybe a lot of us grew up with grandparents, great-grandparents that offered us cod liver oil for our immune system. I don't know. Leah, did your grandparents do that?

LEAH: Not my grandparents, but now I am that person. I give cod liver oil to my children. I, I take it myself and I give it to my kids. And luckily the cod liver oils that are out there these days are, I'd say better tasting than probably what our grandparents and great-grandparents have. So my kids will take it right off the spoon. It has a little lemon flavor to it, so it's not overly, overly fishy. I'd be lying if I, if it, if it wasn't fishy, but it's much more palatable.

MONICA: Yeah. That's amazing. I need to add that to my supplement list.

LEAH: Absolutely. All right, so we have to take our third break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'm Leah Kleinschrodt, Licensed and Registered Dietitian, and here today with Monica Hoss, who is also a Licensed and Registered Dietitian. Our topic today is Key Nutrients for Weight Loss, and if you're enjoying the show today, please be sure to join us over in the private Dishing Up Nutrition Facebook group. Here you can let us know what topics you want to learn more about, ask questions, and get inspiration from other group members. So you can go to to join the conversation.

Join Our Dishing Up Nutrition Facebook Group


MONICA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Leah and I have been discussing some of the key nutrients that support weight loss: the mineral magnesium, vitamin D, B vitamins, omega three essential fatty acids. And for the month of October, our Nutrikey vitamin D is on sale for 15% off. You can find more information on our website at

Shop Vitamin D Supplements

LEAH: Yep. Awesome. Yeah, it, because you know, we, we did before break mention some of the foods that have the most vitamin D in them. You mentioned eating the yolks of eggs and the fatty fish and things like that. You know, cod liver oil. But really the thing is truly we don't get a ton of vitamin D from our diet even if you are eating these foods. We get the majority of vitamin D through exposure to sunshine. And unfortunately, again here in Minnesota we don't see the sun an awful lot for a good six to seven months out of the year.

So I often recommend to my clients that they take a supplement to bring their vitamin D levels up if they're low or just to try to maintain kind of like those more summer like levels of vitamin D. So again, there's very few foods that are high in vitamin D. People might not eat them on a really consistent basis. So our best bet is either sunshine when there's sunshine or getting a supplement in.

Optimal ranges for vitamin D

MONICA: Yeah. And it can really make such a big difference to have those higher levels of vitamin D. You and I know that most people feel best when their vitamin D blood levels are above 50, but really even better if you can get it into the sixties or seventies. When it's lower than that, you might feel low energy, fatigued, lower mood. And unfortunately some doctors and lab tests will show that levels are within range, even when they are down in the twenties or thirties. I think that if it's above 30 they'll say you're not deficient.

LEAH: Correct. Yep.

MONICA: But again, we know that for optimal health and weight loss, we want it at least above 50.

LEAH: Yep. Agreed. In, in general, again, thinking people living in the upper Midwest and things like that, in general, we could say during the winter 5,000 IUs of vitamin D per day will keep you at a good range. But that can definitely vary per person and that's why it is important to get, get those levels tested when you're able to.

MONICA: Yes, absolutely. And you know, oftentimes a lower dose in the summer might be okay, especially if you're outside a lot, but even then you, you can continue to take 5,000 or maybe go down to 3000 IU’s for an example.

Omega-3 food sources

LEAH: Yep, absolutely. So that's vitamin D there and we, so we're going to launch into probably the last nutrient we're going to get, we're going to get to this morning. So let's circle back into those omega three essential fatty acids. We said at, you know, more the top of the show that 95% of the population does not get enough omega three fatty acids from food sources. This one is very similar to vitamin D in that there's just not a ton of food sources that are as rich in those omega-threes. So it can be a little harder to come by within the food system.

MONICA: And again, it's those similar foods. The foods that are rich in omega three are going to be just like the vitamin D, your cold water fatty fish again, wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel; plus those great organic pasture raised eggs with the yolk. You got to eat the yolk folks.

LEAH: Absolutely eat the yolk. And if you can picture cattle or other animals grazing or roaming in pastures out in the wild, those animals have access to sunlight and a lot of diverse food sources. So we end up getting more omega-threes when we're eating pasture raised meat, free range poultry, wild caught fish and things like that.

MONICA: Omega-threes are called an essential fatty acid. And this just means that our bodies don't produce these fatty acids so we have to get them from outside sources like the food we're eating or an omega-three fish oil capsule supplement.

Omega-3’s provide many health benefits

LEAH: Yep. So a couple questions just for the listeners to think about. You know, do you have dry skin? Do you have achy joints? Do you have that belly fat around the midsection that we were talking about? The great thing about omega-threes is that they are beneficial for so many different health conditions. And again, if you're a long time Dishing Up Nutrition listener, you've heard us talk about how anti-inflammatory they are.

MONICA: Right. And our show today is focusing on that connection between the key nutrients that help with weight loss. But we know that having too much inflammation in the body, it has been linked to obesity, type two diabetes. So let's dive a little deep into why omega-three fatty acids help with weight loss. And that first reason is really that it reduces inflammation and when we have excess inflammation, it makes it harder to lose weight and burn fat.

LEAH:  Mm-Hmm. Yep. And that's typically what I think about omega-3’s for is that anti-inflammatory property. And I know for me personally, I notice a big difference with my knee pain with just some of that achiness and stiffness in my knees. Like for me, omega-3’s make a big difference there.

Omega-3’s also are helpful for regulating blood sugar levels. Again, like this is a very common thing that Americans tend to struggle with when you're more on that insulin resistance side of things where your body just has a hard time managing blood sugar levels. This is where omega-3’s can be super helpful. Omega-3’s help insulin do its job better and this helps then to lower high blood sugar levels. The body can then burn fat a little more easily as opposed to storing fat when we keep insulin and blood sugar levels in check.

MONICA: Omega-3’s can also regulate your appetite related hormones. So we have hormones that they make us feel hungry and then they make us feel full. These can get flip flopped and a lot of people say, I just feel hungry all the time, but when you're getting enough omega-3’s, that can get your hormones working again so you're not as hungry. You're feeling full and satisfied.

LEAH: Yeah. And it's a beautiful thing when you don't have those cravings, when you don't have those constant hunger signals. It makes it easier to make those better food choices or to kind of keep your wits about you. I mean, this list could go on and on. I mean, we could do a whole show on omega-3’s and maybe we will here at some point.

They're just so great for overall health and having enough omega-3’s, not only does it reduce inflammation and help with blood sugar, but it also reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, type two diabetes and more. Because a lot of these have those underlying driving factors of insulin resistance and more inflammation, those that chronic inflammation.

MONICA: Yeah. So Leah, what are we talking about in terms of how much omega-3’s does someone need?

How much omega-3 is recommended?

LEAH: Yeah, it's a great question and our philosophy is food first where we can get it. And so if you can get those types of foods in a couple of times per day, again, like we were talking about, do some organic eggs with your breakfast, do some wild caught fish or some grass fed steak at dinner. Simple but also delicious. But I definitely have clients who they're not fish fans or it's just like, it's just not coming in regularly enough to make that big of a difference. So that's where we might suggest a high quality omega-3 supplement. You know, we've got a couple options. I do like our Nutrikey Extra Strength Omega-3 because you only have to take two soft gels as opposed to three or four like some of the other major brands.

MONICA: Yeah, I like that too. And a lot of times I find that taking one of those Extra Strength Omega-3 capsules with each meal is a really good dose to help healing that insulin resistance. You know, it's not an overnight process, but your body heals on the inside and is going to start burning fat more efficiently. So it's a win-win.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. So our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message that eating real food is life changing. So thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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