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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

8 Essential Vitamins And Minerals to Help You Sleep Better

8 Essential Vitamins And Minerals to Help You Sleep Better

If you are like most people, you probably can resonate with some bits of it:

You start the day off feeling pretty good after a cup of coffee. You get through the morning – maybe you catch a quick lunch workout, then around 2 or 4pm, you hit a slump. You feel like you could spend 4 hours in the staff nap room, but you know you have 24 more emails to get through before you can even begin to start winding down your workday. You promise yourself you’ll go to bed early, and if you wake up you won’t stare at your phone until the wee hours of the morning.

You have another cup of coffee on the drive home from work, start dinner, sit with the kids and family, load the dishwasher, and still have to put together the summary of a presentation for tomorrow morning. You feel more tired and overwhelmed, so you catch an episode of your favorite show and spend an hour wrapping up your presentation only to find its 10:30pm and you are exhausted.

You go to bed, but you just haven’t had the time to wind down so you lie there looking at the ceiling, listening to your partner snore like a chainsaw. When you do finally get to sleep, you wake up four hours later in the wee hours of the morning, and can’t get back to sleep…

You’re tired, so why can’t you go back to sleep?

Sometimes, our bodily sleep cycles get a little mixed up due to the poor nutritional choices we make in our day to day lives. We eat fast food on the run and miss out on important nutrients our bodies need to function properly and run smoothly. A body can only function properly for so long with an improper diet then at some point something has got to give.

This article will show you 8 vitamins, minerals and supplements to help you get a better sleep and increase your energy and productivity to help you look and feel your best!

A Word of Caution:

It is always important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist prior to using vitamins for sleep or adding supplements to your diet, as some of them you can overload on – such as iron, and the fat soluble Vitamins A, D E & K.

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A doctor, pharmacist or dietician can give you specific advice about how much of any supplement you may need as some supplements are not suitable for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have certain medical disorders.

1. Vitamin D

Most experts agree that Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin but rather, a hormone made in the body with the help of sunlight.

In a meta-analysis published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it was found that Vitamin D deficiency is in fact associated with a higher risk of sleep disorders and that with less than 20 ng/mL Vitamin D could increase the risk of sleep disorders.[1]

You can get Vitamin D from supplementation, and sunlight! Some foods high in Vitamin D are eggs, salmon, tuna fish, and mushrooms.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see what your current Vitamin D level is and how much you should be supplementing. Because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it can get stored in your body and become toxic if the level is too high.

Want to know how much sunlight is safe and when to get it to produce your own Vitamin d? This app maybe able to help.

2. Vitamin E

A 2011 study looking at the neuroprotective effect of Vitamin E showed that Vitamin E can prevent sleep deprivation-induced memory impairment, as well as normalizing hippocampus antioxidant mechanisms during sleep deprivation.[2]

In addition to this, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant – protecting the body tissue from free radical damage, and playing a role in healthy aging.

It also helps to keep the immune system strong, is important in the formation of red blood cells and helps the body use Vitamin K.

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Sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ oil are foods that contain Vitamin E in relatively decent amounts. You can also buy it in capsule form at most pharmacies.

Vitamin E is another of the fat-soluble vitamins, so check in with your doctor or pharmacist to assess your needs.

3. B Vitamins

There are 8 B Vitamins that are vital to your health which together are called the B -complex Vitamins. Some emerging research shows that certain B-Vitamins – B3, B5, B6, B9 & B12 to be exact – help regulate the body’s supply of Tryptophan, which in turn helps the body produce melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced in your body to make you sleepy. (More on Tryptophan and Melatonin later).

The B-Vitamins are typically included in most multivitamins, or you can purchase B-Complex on its own in supplement form. A healthy, well rounded diet with plenty of whole grains, meats, fruit and veggies often provides a good base amount for the body.

4. Calcium & Magnesium

These two minerals are often recommended together just before bed as they both play a role in muscle contraction and relaxation.

It is believed that a lack of Calcium and Magnesium can cause numerous sleep interruptions throughout the night, and Calcium works with Tryptophan (another hormone involved in sleepiness) to produce Melatonin which helps induce sleep. Chronic insomnia is also one of the initial symptoms of Magnesium deficiency.

A diet rich in greens, nuts and seeds will ensure you get Magnesium and Calcium as well as you can buy a supplement containing both at any pharmacy.

5. Theanine

Theanine is an amazing amino acid that is found in tea leaves – particularly green tea – and some types of mushrooms.

Theanine boosts some of the chemicals in the brain (such as dopamine, GABA, and serotonin) which help to regulate sleep. It also lowers chemicals in the brain that have an excitatory effect.

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Experts believe it helps induce sleepiness and speed up the time it takes to fall asleep as well as improving sleep quality.[3]

As mentioned, you can get Theanine from green tea. However, you can also find it in supplement form at many pharmacies.

6. Iron

The number one symptom of low Iron levels is fatigue and sleep disturbance. Low iron levels are thought to be a major risk factor in Restless Leg Syndrome, which can cause sleeplessness or insomnia.

Low iron can also contribute to feelings of anxiety which can make sleep tough as well.

Have your doctor check your iron levels. If you are low, they will recommend a supplement. Did you know that your body absorbs 2 to 3 times more iron from animal sources than from plant sources?

Hack: Vitamin C helps your body absorb Iron, so try taking any recommended supplements with apple or orange juice!

The following foods are high in iron:

Lean beef, oysters, chicken, turkey, beans and lentils, tofu, baked potatoes, cashews, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, fortified breakfast cereals, whole-grain and enriched breads.

7. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, which makes you feel sleepy.

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If you are having trouble getting to sleep, you can also find it in supplement form and typically taking it for a short period (two weeks or so) can help reset your circadian rhythm and let you fall asleep faster. Experts recommend trying it for a short period then stopping supplementation and seeing how your body has responded.

You can help melatonin do its job by “setting the mood”. Turn the lights low, shut off screens, and get cozy.

And if you still have trouble getting to sleep, you can find its supplement at almost any pharmacy.

8. Tryptophan

You know how after Thanksgiving dinner, everyone heads for the recliner or couch and falls asleep? Studies have shown over and over again that tryptophan can induce sleepiness and help you fall asleep faster.

You can buy tryptophan supplements at most pharmacies. You can also get it from many foods such as: nuts, seeds, poultry (not just turkey), milk, spinach, eggs and salmon.

Conclusion

Healthy sleep is imperative for overall bodily health, yet it is not uncommon to experience sleep issues at different times in your life – for many different reasons.

Whether it is stress, or hormone related or otherwise, there are many things that can assist you to improve your sleep.

More Articles About Sleep

Featured photo credit: Phuong Tran via unsplash.com

Reference

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Laura Barr

Laura is a registered clinical massage therapist & certified fitness consultant specializing in holistic nutrition, injury & weight management.

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Published on February 26, 2021

8 Best Natural Energy Drinks For An Instant Energy Boost

8 Best Natural Energy Drinks For An Instant Energy Boost

Need an energy boost? Don’t reach for that soft drink! Sure, the sugar and caffeine might make you feel more energized, but that feeling is only a temporary spike in blood sugar. When it wears off, you’ll crash—and feel even worse than before!

The good news is that there are plenty of natural energy drinks that can ramp up your energy levels without spiking your blood sugar. That means no energy crash and no empty calories. Many of these drinks can even be made at home, so you can easily avoid the added sugars and artificial ingredients.

Here are eight of the best natural energy drinks you can try (and make) for yourself at home.

1. Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Kombucha has a long list of health properties: B vitamins, glucuronic acid (a detoxifier), and loads of antioxidant-rich polyphenols. But what kombucha is best known for is its probiotic bacteria and acetic acid, which have been shown to boost energy levels.[1]

Probiotics play a huge role in energy production. Studies suggest that by improving the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, your “friendly” bacteria will be better able to break down the nutrients in the food you eat.[2] This means you’ll get a natural energy boost from eating the right foods!

Acetic acid has even been shown to increase your metabolism, which means you’ll be using calories from food more efficiently. Acetic acid is the only short-chain fatty acid to reach the systemic circulation in significant amounts where it provides energy for muscles and other tissues. It’s also non-insulinogenic, which means it won’t give you a blood sugar spike.

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You can brew kombucha yourself at home by obtaining a SCOBY, or you can buy bottled kombucha in a store. Just make sure you buy the real stuff![3]

2. Oolong Tea

Poor energy levels can be reversed with a delicious cup of oolong tea. This ancient Chinese beverage is also known as “black dragon tea,” and it’s packed with catechins similar to those found in green tea. These catechins work by promoting your body’s ability to break down fat, which can boost energy levels.

Studies suggest that the catechins in oolong help your body to use fat cells for energy, while the mild caffeine content can give you a quick boost for getting through the day. It’s also been found that drinking full-strength oolong tea may increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation by 12%, which means you’ll be better able to obtain energy from food. It may even help with weight loss![4]

You can make oolong tea with tea bags or loose leaves. Try blending it with green tea for an added boost!

3. Green Tea

Famous the world over, green tea is a powerhouse of health benefits and is often included in the list of beverages used by athletes for extra energy. The caffeine content of green tea is mostly responsible for its energizing benefits. Studies have shown that a regular cup or two of green tea can boost your metabolism and maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day.[5]

Moreover, green tea is believed to increase fat-burning by encouraging your fat cells to release fat, then stimulating your liver’s ability to convert that body fat into energy. This is particularly helpful for weight loss! Try drinking green tea throughout the day to keep your metabolism ticking and your brain active. A cup or two before a workout could also contribute to your endurance and stamina.

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4. Kvass

Kvass is another fermented food, like kombucha—but it’s made from rye bread.[6] This traditional Slavic and Baltic drink is actually known as “black bread,” and it’s still enjoyed in many Eastern European countries.

Kvass can be flavored with fruits, such as strawberries and raisins, or with herbs, such as mint. Traditionally, kvass is served unfiltered with its natural yeast content, which adds to its unique flavor. It’s a good source of B vitamins, which help your body produce energy. Kvass also contains lactic acid and simple sugars, which can be helpful for a quick boost.[7]

Like kombucha, the fermenting process of kvass allows for beneficial bacteria that may improve your digestion. This means you’ll be better able to absorb the energy content of foods you eat. Kvass can also be made with beetroot, which boosts its nutritional content and has excellent benefits you’re your gut microbiome. Beets are a good source of folate, vitamin C, potassium, iron, and phytonutrients. These are made more bioavailable when fermented into kvass!

5. Matcha

Matcha is one of Japan’s most revered beverages. It’s made by crushing green tea leaves into a fine, bright green powder before being mixed in with hot or cold water. This process helps to retain many of the natural antioxidants and other nutrients in the leaves.[8]

The matcha tea bushes are grown in areas out of sunlight, which delays photosynthesis and slows the growth of the plant. The result is a higher concentration of chlorophyll, a powerful detoxifier, and a good energy source.

Drinking matcha means you’re drinking the whole leaf—all the natural caffeine and antioxidants. The nutritional content is thought to be almost 10 times greater than traditionally steeped green tea! Best of all, matcha provides the energy that comes on gently, rather than the “hit” that coffee supplies.

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6. Coconut Water

Coconut water may be 95% water, but it’s still a great source of energizing minerals. Coconut water is the clear liquid found in green coconuts, and it’s a naturally sweet and refreshing drink.

Coconut water is a much healthier alternative to sports drinks—and contains more than 10 times the potassium! Potassium helps to maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes, which is essential before and during exercise as it has less sodium—the main electrolyte you lose with sweat—than most sport’s drinks. The magnesium in coconut water also supports normal energy production and reduces cramping so you’ll be able to keep exercising for longer.[9]

Most importantly, coconut water has fewer carbohydrates than many commercial sports beverages, which is important for proper rehydration after exercise.

7. Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is a traditional drink made from the dried leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, a type of holly native to South America. It’s a very social drink and famous throughout South America.

Yerba mate can boost your energy levels in much the same way as coffee but without the caffeine jitters! In fact, the energizing effects of yerba mate are described as gentle and calm. Mate drinkers report that they feel more alert but don’t experience the crash that coffee can produce.

It’s for this reason that many athletes use yerba mate to enhance their physical performance before a workout or event. It’s also believed to be helpful to those suffering from mental or physical fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome.

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It’s also mentally energizing—yerba mate enhances memory, boosts mood, and increases concentration. It’s said to make you feel more motivated and be productive by stimulating the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.[10]

8. Carrot Juice

Carrots are a fantastic source of beta-carotene—the provitamin A carotenoid which your body can quickly convert into vitamin A. Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that not only protects your body from free radicals but also bolsters energy levels.

Vitamin A plays many roles in growth and development, and it’s especially important in maintaining energy. Research has shown that vitamin A is crucial for assisting with daily energy production and physical activity.[11] Our cells create energy by first creating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things. To do this, our cells first need sufficient vitamin A. Low levels of vitamin A will directly affect your body’s ATP production, causing your energy levels to dwindle.

Carrot juice is one of the healthiest veggie-based drinks out there, and it has much lower sugar than fruit juices! It’s also super easy to make at home.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to consume artificial energy drinks to get the energy boost you need. Try out these eight natural energy drinks that are packed full of micronutrients to keep you healthy, active, and energized. You just have to put in a little more effort in preparing them, but I guarantee it’s worth it.

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Featured photo credit: Raimond Klavins via unsplash.com

Reference

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