brain health, healthy lifestyle, microbiome, nutrition, weight loss

No Money for Supplements? 9 Budget Cuts To Make To Take These 3 Vitamins

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You’ve joined the healthy lifestyle movement, eating more “real foods” that ARE the ingredients instead of food products with unpronounceable ingredients.   Great job!

When your body is no longer getting regular doses of manufactured preservatives (AKA chemicals), you may start to not feel so great-which is very contrary to why you started to eat healthier in the first place!

What’s going on?

Most often, your poor diet was masking some of your body’s needs for real nutrition.  It will take time to flush out and restore some of the body’s required nutrients for you to notice the benefits of a real food lifestyle.

Haven’t even started eating real foods and this concept makes you not want to even start? LOL. No fear-start supplementing with these 3 very important vitamins now to ease the transition!

weight loss, healthy eating, nutrition, lifestyle, healthy fatsI will not sugar coat this fact: quality supplements are not cheap and for many people, it will take long term, consistent dosing to really help restore balance and fill the “empty cup.”

That’s why lowering your daily food costs, or food budget, is not only an excellent way to overhaul your grocery cart but your put more cash in your wallet.

“Supplement” Your Diet with Lower Cost Meals

I’ll be honest with you: our family budget has rarely allowed me the luxury of purchasing vitamins and food at the same time.  I will say, however, the time I’ve spent over the past year to slothfully change my family’s food palate (AKA more beans than animal protein) has made the need for supplementation painfully obvious.

#MeatlessMondays is an excellent idea for enacting a small change.

My men are big meat lovers; the more sausage, the better.  I constantly heard, “Where’s the meat, Ma?” or “Um, more meat please” at every meal.  The price I was was paying for animal protein-not even high quality protein, ate up all of our food budget.  As a result, I viewed vitamins with a bit of disdain because I knew it was nothing I could ever afford.

Instead, I made it my goal to slowly transition my family to more vegetarian protein sources, learning to balance “those” meals with the following grocery tips lots of healthy yet tasty desserts.

Tips For Increasing Protein Variety In Your Meals

Life sometimes works better with moments of “give and take” to assuage transitions that upset something as personal as food preferences.

Remember, many “diets” have failed because taste buds were not as on board as the mind.  Fortunately, taste buds regenerate every 10 days and are controlled by genes influencing their relative sensitivity to bitter vs. sweet (Tim Spector, The Diet Myth, 29).

After a while, these tips for switching some of your higher cost animal protein meals to the more affordable plant-based protein meals will free up cash in your budget  

  1. Add pureed or lightly mashed beans into the current meal’s protein.  This works well for ground beef or pork dishes.  Check out my post, Plant-Based Beef Protein Recipe.

    healthy diet, beans, beef, broth
    taco meat and beans
  2. Pre-cook and freeze meats: thinly sliced sausage, ground beef, stew chunks, or shaved beef.  Then, top the meatless meal with a sprinkling of meat.  It’s the new BAM!
  3. Leave the meat alone but slowly add more veggies to your plate.  Make a raw, mayo-based coleslaw to add to tacos, toss into the Reuben, Sloppy Joe, or pulled pork sandwich.  Start with a small amount.  I’ll also shred raw green or red cabbage and sprinkle it under the main meal so it soaks up the meat flavors and softens.
  4. If you do make a no-meat meal, make a great dessert.  Make it smell really good, too, and have it ready to eat right after the meal.  Do this often to reap the quickest rewards 😉
  5. Punch up the flavors with spices.  Are you a hot and spicy lover?  Use fresh peppers as meal toppers to kick up the heat, making you eat quicker and more!  Have more of a sweet tooth? Incorporate fresh fruits like pineapple, mango, and berries into grain or salad-based meals.
  6. Experiment with sprouting grains and beans.  I felt like a kid shoving crunchy stuff into my mouth; it has such a sweet yet “green” taste to it that I was amused!  These encounters will slowly transform your food preferences so have fun with your food and you’re brain will reward you as well for making eating novel again.
  7. Use a meal schedule.  What I didn’t do- but should have had the article come to my attention sooner, was to only make new recipes on the weekends when time was less stressful.  That also defines this “food exploration” with set parameters so that your meal partners weren’t always scared to ask, “What’s for dinner….?”  Meal plans also play to people’s love for control and order; no surprises keeps the stress down.
  8. Narrow in one one plant-based food and try a variety of recipes.  healthy eating, soaked beans, fermented foods, fermentation, nutrient densityThis allows your taste buds to become comfortable with its repeated presentation.  Fifteen to twenty taste introductions is statistically how many tries it takes to be accepted as a good option.
  9. When you find a good recipe, don’t mess with it; just incorporate into your meal rotation with glee.  Think quietly of all the “cha-ching, cha-ching” you hear going back into your food budget each time you make it.

Supplement With Better Absorption

As a bonus, if you are sipping or cooking with real bone broth, you will be heading toward healing your digestive system, which will mean that your body is able to absorb more nutrition from your meals.  Better absorption translates directly into eating less food for that feeling of “full” because your hormones that regulate blood sugar will be in balance.  (Shameless plug for a healthy gut through the healing properties of bone broth.)

Furthermore, if you are experimenting with fermented, or cultured, foods like sauerkraut or milk kefir, you are ingesting additional vitamins, beneficial bacteria, and enzymes without the cost of a pricey supplement.  These foods will also boost absorption of the entire meal’s nutrition.  Need ideas? Read this post, How To Use Fermented Foods In Meals.

Three Must-Take Vitamins

vitamins, supplements, fish oil, calcium, wellnessAfter struggling with nutritional deficiencies due to chronic lifestyle choices and situations, I conducted loads of research into what nutrients are really necessary for health, brain functioning, and of course-weight loss.

In correct dosages, which are much higher than the RDA, supplements can:

  • Reverse aging in your cells, brain, and physical appearance
  • Replenish chronic deficiencies that are making weight loss and overall health impossible
  • Increase intelligence and memory performance
  • Elevate your mood and rewire your brain by increasing the fluidity of neurotransmitters

Your brain requires actual nutrients in correct amounts in order to think and process information.  And, depending on if you are a glass half empty or half full, certain brain regions need more nutrient attention than others.  For example, people who think more negatively deplete the B Complex vitamins faster than a healthy food diet can replenish; that is based solely on hormonal balance and the functioning of the neurotransmitters relaying messages throughout the brain and body.

Neural pathways require an abundant supply of healthy fats to keep them fluid so they can be flexible in the reception of signals.  These signals also rely on healthy fats and hormones, which are used all throughout the central processor, the brain, and organs to initiate and regulate all sorts of functions from sleep to metabolism, to fighting inflammation and cell communication.

All these complex systems utilize specific nutrients, combinations, and sequences of nutrients just for the daily maintenance of the brain and body.  This doesn’t even account for imbalances from chronic stressors, environmental toxins, or poor absorption of supplied nutrients.

In addition, what if you personally struggle with a learning issue or a mental health concern?  Dyslexia, schizophrenia, and life with depressive tendencies cause even greater strain on your body’s stores of vital nutrients.

Jean Carper, best selling author and medical journalist with decades of expertise, wrote in 2000 that there are “a wide range of vitamins and minerals linked to psychological functioning and that many such nutrients are missing in typical high-fat, highly processed diets” of American cuisine (Your Miracle Brain, 197).

No. 1: Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acid

Best: Krill Oil (no fish burp effects), Fermented Cod Liver Oil, Algae

Good: Vitamin E with Evening Primrose Oil; Fish Oil measured in EPA and DHA (combinations of salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies); ALA (vegetarian)

A word of caution about omega 3 supplements:  If you choose to continue to eat a diet high in omega 6 oils, then you will need a higher dose of omega 3 in order to have the correct ratio for benefits.

  • Keeps the neurotransmitter receptors fluid,which allows them to adapt to the specific message being received without “bouncing the call.”  The brain captures most of the DHA you eat to fuel its activities (Your Miracle Brain, 77).
  • “Your myelin sheath is 80 percent lipid. Lipids are fats, typically provided by the diet. Essential fatty acids, like omega 6 or omega 3 fatty acids, can influence the health of your myelin sheath. When a fat is termed essential, it means that your body cannot [make] them; therefore, you must consume them from foods or supplements. According to “Anatomy and Physiology” by Kenneth Saladin, dietary fatty acids play a role in maintaining the integrity of your myelin sheath” (
  • “Fatty junk food not only causes deficiencies, but it’s positively toxic to the brain because it keeps the body from creating EFAs…. How to spot a fatty acid deficiency that can affect the brain: excessive thirst, frequent urination, dry skin like the small, hard bumps on arms, thighs, and elbows, straw-like hair and dandruff (Your Miracle Brain, 92)
  • Healthy fats maintain key chemicals and nutrients that feed and improve the diversity of microbes in the gut (The Diet Myth, 106).
  • Omega 3 increases the oxidation of fat by activating genes that break down fat, reducing the number of fat cells (Calton, The Micronutrient Miracle, 224).

No. 2: Vitamin D + K2 + Calcium (with Magnesium) 

Click over to this exceptional post by Dr. Mercola explaining the complex relationship between these vitamins.  He lists foods that will help boost absorption and dosage recommendations.

Dr. Mercola published another article for The Hearty Soul, Science confirms that Vitamin D provides many benefits to your physical and mental health, which lists these reasons for supplementing with D:

  • “Pregnancy outcomes (reduced risk of Cesarean section and pre-eclampsia)
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Autism, Alzheimer’s, and other brain dysfunction
  • Bacterial and viral infections

“Some of the most recently published studies, which I’ll review here, demonstrate how boosting your vitamin D levels can improve depression and pain in diabetics, Crohn’s disease, and breast cancer.”

No. 3: B Complex 

These will keep you from going crazy, literally.  According to Dr. Michael Lesser in The Brain Chemistry Diet, here’s a few reasons to take this supplement seriously:

Niacin: raises seratonin levels in the brain, clears psychotic thinking and improves rational cognition

B6: metabolizes protein, aids in the transmission of sensory information, and heightens recall and mental imagery

Unfortunately, a major source of B complex nutrients had been available in raw, unpasteurized milk.  The Micronutrient Miracle lists health conditions of acne, anxiety, autism, fatigue, depression, and thyroid as deficiencies of B Complex.  Stress also depletes this nutrient, which then harms the beneficial bacteria within the gut.

Best: raw, whole food sourced B Complex vitamin, which will add enzymes for digestion.  I’ve used Garden of Life Vitamin Code for the added enzymes, but I know there are other great products as well.

Reset Your Weight

Based on research and personal trial and error, I hope I’ve encouraged you to find ways to cut back on any food costs that could be standing in your way of obtaining much needed nutrients from supplements.

If you have chronic lifestyle deficiencies that are leaving you with less than ideal health and feelings of blah, bring this list to your doctor as a place to start.  Blood work can really help isolate specific nutritional needs.

Lastly, it probably took a long time to create a deficiency so give yourself time to see and feel results. Don’t get discouraged!

Need a boost in finding foods that work for your body and weight loss goals?

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