Body of Wonder, a health and wellness podcast sponsored by the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, welcomed micronutrients researcher Dr. Bonnie Kaplan to discuss micronutrients and “nutrition above the neck.” Through her independent research over the past decade, Dr. Kaplan has found that micronutrients can deeply impact brain health and development, including in cases of ADHD, behavioral disorders, and mood.
Nutrition for Brain Health
Not only is Dr. Kaplan passionate about brain health, but she’s also genuinely concerned about the general health of those who are nutrient deficient.
“The passion comes from seeing lives transform,” Dr. Kaplan explained. “In the right formulations combined together in a broad spectrum, you can transform a human being. I’ve seen it time and time again.”
Dr. Kaplan reminisces about a six-year-old boy who was a traditionally successful student, who was well-liked by friends and teachers but would come home and have tumultuous meltdowns. His parents, thinking the cause was their parenting skills, went through parenting classes and therapy to find a way to help their son. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to work and the parents were running themselves ragged.
“I told [the boy's father] about my research and said, ‘This is the kind of child where I think we could have an impact very quickly. Would you be interested [in trying micronutrients?]’ And of course, he wanted to try them on his son,” Dr. Kaplan explained.
After getting the clinical formulation into his system, his parents said that within no time, the tantrums disappeared.
The root of the problem? Dr. Kaplan believes it’s a lack of minerals and vitamins in the body.
“The latest research from the United States shows that about 62% of the food intake of Americans is from ultra-processed food. There are no nutrients there. If roughly 62% of the nutrient intake is gone from the diets of Americans, then it’s beginning to look like the starvation experiments from the University of Minnesota, where they showed that 50% drop in nutrient and caloric intake for 6 months caused depression, anxiety, and ADHD.”
Which begs the question: How can we get the proper amount of nutrients if not from our food supply?
The Trick to Getting Nutrients
Unfortunately for many Americans, successfully ingesting the proper amount of nutrients the body needs from sources of food isn’t always easy. Dr. Kaplan points out that socioeconomic factors play a huge role. Affluent people often have better access to better food. Dr. Weil, Founder & Director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, echoes that belief and adds that Americans should aim for whole food, anti-inflammatory diet.
“Eat foods as close to the way that nature produces them as possible,” Dr. Weil instructs. “If you eat a variety of good quality fruits and vegetables and other foods, and if those foods have the balance of micronutrients that nature provides and the soil is healthy, [you can often get the amount of nutrients your body needs].”
Even if you manage to find the perfect diet from the perfect source of foods though, Dr. Kaplan points out, genetics may still play a role. If you come from a family that needs more micronutrients to function optimally, you’ll require even better nutrition than other people.
“We have roughly 50 examples of this in physical health, but no one has studied it yet in mental health!” said Dr. Kaplan. “In every one of those cases of inborn errors of metabolism, people needed an unusually large amount of vitamins for certain metabolic steps to happen. Just by feeding those people vitamins at the endpoint, you’re able to control those symptoms.”
Getting Nutrients Outside of Food
When it comes to intake of micronutrients, “food first, absolutely,” says Dr. Kaplan.
But what if our food doesn’t have what we need or we simply aren't getting enough?
In North America, 97% of our food is grown with glyphosate, which sequesters minerals and makes them less accessible to the body. In a distribution of 40 soil samples pulled from Canada, Dr. Kaplan found that not a single one contained the variety of vitamins our body needs.
So how does the average person find the “best” food, or the ones most likely to have the nutrients we need? “If you have a lot of money, it’s not hard, you go to Whole Foods,” Dr. Kaplan jokes. “But to me, there is a hidden gem for people on a budget. That is how to cook from dried beans, legumes, lentils, and so on. You can live on $5 worth of beans in a week.”
But if beans aren't your ideal diet and you want to ensure that you are receiving all the essential vitamins and minerals every day, a clinical level micronutrient supplement can make all the difference.
Hardy Nutitionals® micronutrients have been studied by Dr. Kaplan and other independent researchers for a wide range of mood and mental health disorders including but not limited to ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Daily Essential Nutrients, Hardy's clinical micronutrient blend, offers every single essential vitamin and mineral at therapeutic levels in a highly absorbable format. Researchers including Dr. Kaplan have found that the number of micronutrients offered in Hardy’s Daily Essential Nutrients is actually what the body needs to perform at its best.