Certain nutrients play an important role in the health of the body – from the cardiovascular system to bone health and immune system strength. Vitamin D – particularly in the form of active D-3 – magnesium and zinc are all crucial to many functions in the body, and getting adequate quantities through food and/or supplementation can support health on numerous levels.
Vitamin D-3 and Health
Vitamin D is fat-soluble and is found sparingly in foods like liver, cheese and fatty fish. The body also makes vitamin D when skin is exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun. Vitamin D is important for bone health since it aids calcium absorption in the gut. The nutrient also plays a role in the immune system and acts as an anti-inflammatory substance in the body. Vitamin D-3 is the preferred form of supplemental vitamin D because it is closer to the active form the body uses than vitamin D-2 and is easier to assimilate. Vitamin D-3 may also support a healthy mood, particularly in those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
A Multitasking Mineral
Magnesium may be one of the most important nutrients for overall health, since it is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems in the body that regulate everything from protein synthesis to nerve and muscle function to blood pressure regulation. According to the UMMC, magnesium is also important for healthy teeth and bones and the function of key organs like the heart, liver and kidneys. While magnesium is found in foods like nuts, legumes and green leafy vegetables, many people don't get enough from their diet. According to the Institutes of Health, habitually low magnesium intake can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and migraine headaches.
The Power of Zinc
Another crucial mineral for health, zinc plays a role in immune system health, protein synthesis, DNA formation, cell division and healthy growth and development in infancy and childhood. Zinc is found in foods like wild oysters, red meat, poultry, nuts, legumes, whole grains and dairy products. Zinc has to be consumed every day because the body has no specialized zinc storage system, according to the National Institutes of Health. According to the UMMC, zinc also plays an important role in reproductive health – linked specifically to male fertility – proper thyroid function, blood sugar regulation, prevention of age-related macular degeneration and protecting the body from free-radical damage.
Many people benefit from taking a robust multivitamin daily that contains vitamin D-3, magnesium and zinc along with a whole host of other important nutrients. While supplements are useful, it is an excellent idea to try to get a full spectrum of nutrients from your diet. Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and high-quality animal protein are full of healthy nutrients, while their heavily processed cousins found in cans, bags and boxes often are not. Consuming large amounts of alcohol, white sugar, caffeine and certain medications can prevent the absorption of key nutrients like magnesium, zinc and vitamin D or leach them from the cells of the body, causing deficiencies.
Amy Myszko is a certified clinical herbalist and nutritional consultant who has been helping people find greater health and balance through diet, lifestyle and natural remedies since 2006. She received her certification from the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism in Boulder, Colo. Myszko also holds a BA in literature from the University of Colorado.