Essential Vitamins & Minerals

Today we have a guest post from Alex Estra, MD. His bio follows this article. I was contacted by Mary Jane from asking if I accept guest posts. I do from time to time. If you have a post that would be interesting to SS readers, please contact me here on the blog or via email through the Contact Info tab at the top of this page.

I hope to post a review of a cool camp stove tomorrow. Stay tuned.


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Health and well being is an often overlooked component of modern life. In the race to accumulate more, we often neglect the general health of our body for material gain. We often think that people from poorer countries don’t have enough to eat, yet here in the United States we may have more than plenty to eat, but the reality is most Americans have an unbalanced and unhealthy diet. Let’s discuss an essential topic when talking about having a well-balanced diet. This is about vitamins and minerals.

When talking about diet with regards to health, we should not be simply talking just about general health. As outdoorsmen and athletes, diet plays an essential a part in sustaining peak performance during physical activity. Now you may think that you are within your ideal body weight and have a healthy level of conditioning, however what happens inside your body is just as important as what you see outside. Let us be clear first, with regards to the outdoors, vitamins are taken to supplement a normal and healthy diet. Vitamins should never be used in a survival situation as this may hasten dehydration.

Now vitamins are essential part of a healthy diet. Almost all of the vitamins that you need are supplied by a well balanced healthy diet. You might ask, “what about vitamin pills”? Now there is no harm taking one single vitamin pill per day, particularly with the typical American diet, which has an imbalance of certain nutrients. Our exceptionally stressful lifestyles also need some vitamin supplementation, even within the realm of a healthy diet. Stress often leads to more oxidation of cells and vitamins may help restrain this oxidation. You can further consult your healthcare provider about how to properly take vitamin pills.

Some Important Vitamins and Minerals
Calcium, Zinc, and Magnesium:
These three minerals are highly essential to have in your diet. Calcium and magnesium play a large part in healing and bone building. Magnesium also helps your body in absorbing calcium, and aids your body’s defensive cells to migrate to an area of injury or infection. Zinc plays a large part in enhancing your immune system, making you more resistant diseases and illness.


Copper is another additional mineral that is important for the wound and tissue healing. It also plays a part in absorbing iron and making energy for the body. Copper is also important for the formation of hormones and collagen.

B complex vitamins:
B complex vitamins are co-factors when it comes to important metabolic functions and tissue healing. Without proper amounts of Vitamin B complex in our bodies, we wouldn’t be able to release the all the energy from the carbohydrates we take in. Amino acid (needed for protein building) production is also highly dependent on adequate Vitamin B complex in our body. Other important functions include formation of hemoglobin for health red blood cells, and the formation of serotonin, an essential neurotransmitter that plays an essential part in regulation sleep and moods. Some great food sources of Vitamin B complex would include whole grains, tuna, liver, meats, bananas, eggs, and even everybody’s favorite, beer!

Vitamin C:
Vitamin C has always been touted as the super vitamin. It is reputed to reinforce the immune system, helping you resists both viral and bacterial infections. It also plays an immense role in collagen production, which is important for tissue rebuilding and repair. Take note however, that taking large doses of vitamin C is not good for you as this may cause an upset stomach and other possible side effects. Although vitamin C can be taken as a supplement pill, it is much better to take it in the form of fruits such as oranges or green leafy vegetables. Taking your vitamin this way is so much better because it also supplies fiber, needed for a health digestive system and cholesterol lowering effects.

Vitamin K:
Vitamin K is an often neglected part of a healthy diet, yet vitamin K plays an important part of blood clotting, particularly when you sustain wounds. However, as with everything too much of a good thing is bad for you, and overdosing on Vitamin K may lead to excessive clotting, which results to a stroke. It can also affect “blood thinner”drugs. So if you’re ever on these drugs, always ask your healthcare provider about Vitamin K. Vitamin K usually does not need supplementation as it is abundant in most natural food sources, so chances are you will get sufficient amounts. Foods that have a high amount of vitamin K include green leafy vegetables and bread.

If your are planning to take a long hike or even a day trip where the food sources you bring with you are limited, it would probably be a good idea to bring a complete multivitamin pill that you can take per day. You can ask your healthcare provider if he has any to recommend.

Author bio: Alex Estra, MD is a doctor of Podiatric Medicine.  He has an avid interest in survival/wilderness preparedness and regular contributor to Dan’s Depot.

Categories: Healthcare, Medical, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Essential Vitamins & Minerals

  1. Hi Todd,

    This is a very interesting topic. I must admit I have become very ambivalent about industrial vitamin and mineral supplementation. At the very least, I can’t help but wonder if I am spending lots of money on the popular snake oil of the day. You hear people saying we need this supplement or that supplement but very few people will talk about the ratios between supplements as being important. The ratios make things complicated and difficult to manage at home. Of course, there is a new industry forming that will test your blood and saliva for different nutrients — for a price.

    I went from being a person that used one of the best — and very expensive supplement programs — offered by Life Extension Foundation to embracing putting my money into eating quality foods and under special conditions using “superfoods”.

    It comes down to this. Eat real food from a quality source. By the way, making this change from industrial supplementation to whole foods and superfoods was scary. Was I doing enough? Was I making a mistake? The temptation is always there to do more.

    It comes down to eat the real food! Real food will always be better than some phama-concotion. You want Vitamin A use your cod liver oil or liver. You want B vitamins, down the liver, again. You want vitamin D get out in the midday sun or eat pastured hog lard in winter. You want vitamin K try some goose liver pate or traditionally fermented tempeh. Vitamin C is everywhere. Try rose hips, acerola or the adrenal glands of any animal which is a very rich source of Vitamin C. Your body will know what to do with these nutrients in their natural form. I am not so sure about the test tube nutrients.

    Be very careful about supplementing minerals like Calcium. The chemistry is beyond me but if you get your ratios wrong and your are somehow imbalanced in your fat solution vitamins, you could see all that calcium be put down in your soft tissues and not your bones. This happened to me. You should have seen the X-ray of my lungs. Too much calcium in the wrong place will truly hardens your arteries. See Dr Rosedale on this issue:


    • Thanks Caroline for your you insight always. I must admit that I didn’t do my due diligence when I scanned the article. He recommends eating wheat, which I totally disagree with.
      Here’s what Mark Sisson has to say about supplements in our diet.


      • Hi Todd,

        I really respect Mark Sisson and follow Mark’s Daily Apple. It’s the only fruit I eat everyday! I really respect his disclaimer that says he makes most of his income from supplements so he is not disinterested:
        “Disclaimer: I derive most of my income from selling supplements. We don’t talk too much about it here on MDA, but I get enough questions on this topic, that I felt it was time to explain exactly why I choose to manufacture and take certain supplements.”
        1. I’m not sure about antioxidants. If you got to do it make a formulation yourself with herbs or superfoods. At least it will be cheap and you’ll know what’s in your formulation.
        2. Your gut flora is everything. As a society and individually, we have been waging a war against our gut flora for about three generations since the introduction of oral antibiotics. Many people don’t realize that their gut flora make a whole range of vitamins for our use. Our gut flora is our first line of defeat from infectious agents and environmental toxins. If our gut flora is messed up we will not be able to absorb the nutrients in our food. The best source of probiotics will not be found in a supplement. Make you own probiotics in your kitchen by making: water kefir, dairy kefir (if you consume dairy), lacto-fermented vegetables, kombucha, etc.
        3. Get your fish oil from eating fish! Eating fish and seafood
        is delicious. Chocking down capsules isn’t. You get a lot more bang-for-your-buck eating seafood than chocking down capsules. Stop eating the vegetable oils that cause the imbalance with omega 3 and 6.
        4. Eat real food not protein powders. I would suggest a high fat snack not a protein snack. If someone has to have a shake, make the shake from raw whole milk, two egg yolks, and some organic berries.
        People need to get back into their kitchens and prepare food for themselves and their loved ones. Even someone who has never cooked a meal in his/her life could make that shake.


      • Bravo and agreed! Especially with number 4.


  2. Great article! People need to pay attention to vitamins and minerals when it comes to survival. Performance can make the difference between life and death even if you aren’t keeling over from deficiency.

    Also, deficiency is a lot more common than a lot of people think. While many people are getting the amount of vitamins they need on paper there are two potential issues that prevent them from being used in the body:

    1. Different forms of vitamins/minerals are processed differently
    2. The environment within the body could inhibit absorption

    For example, magnesium is abundant in the Standard American Diet yet 75% of the population is deficient.

    One thing I strongly disagree with is the recommendation of grains as a source of vitamins. Phytates within grains exist for the sole purpose of binding nutrients within an ungerminated seed and have been proven in studies to reduce mineral absorption within the gut, as well as causing inflammation of the gut lining which can lead to permeability.


    • Yep, totally agree with you on the grains! I’ve got bit to write up on his take on the whole grain issue. Thanks for the help and comments!


    • Yep, totally agree with you on the grain advice. I didn’t do my due diligence when reading his submission. Caroline, another commentista has concerns also.
      I think I’ll put an editors note before the article.


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