kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

Are you following a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle, eat only wild plants, live where the air, water and soil are pure and untouched by pollution, get lots of physical exercise and direct sunlight, sleep soundly nine hours a night and, are you totally unstressed?

If that describes your life, then Dr. Mark Hyman says you are good to go on about your life without worrying if the food you are eating is efficient enough to fulfill your nutritional needs.

Mark Hyman is the bestselling author of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?. He writes that an amazing 90% of Americans aren’t getting enough of the nutrients that are critical for healthy functioning. Most of us are deficient in vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and fatty acids. If these deficiencies are not apparent immediately, they will damage us over time.

The vegetables and fruit that we eat may look healthy, but they have been compromised. Thanks to modern agricultural practices, the soil where they grow has been depleted of nutrients and strong chemical fertilizers are routinely used. Pesticides and herbicides take their toll on the entire ecosystem affecting everything we eat.

In order for produce to reach us and still be edible, it must be harvested prematurely, before the nutrients have had a chance to fully develop. Then it is shipped long distances and stored in warehouses, further diminishing its benefits. In fact, the apple you buy at the store has probably been stored for about a year.

Organic is better because it has no agricultural chemicals, is more nutrient-dense, and contains more phytonutrients. But, even organic produce is picked early, shipped long distances, and stored for long periods of time.

There is too much conflicting information out there about nutritional supplements. In June of 2002, JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, reversed its decision on supplements and declared that suboptimal levels of vitamins are a risk factor for chronic disease. This unleashed endless claims that this or that vitamin is essential for optimal health. We were told to take a multivitamin and then we were told that we are wasting our money on products that might not even contain what is on the label.

Supplementation is important. Every one of the thousands of chemical reactions that take place inside our bodies every second is made possible by the work of enzymes and coenzymes. Nearly all coenzymes are vitamins and minerals. Magnesium and zinc, for example, are each responsible for activating more than 200 enzymes. Folic acid is critical for creating neurotransmitters, regulating our DNA, and determining which of our genes are turned on and off. That plays a crucial role in preventing (or allowing) cancer, heart disease, and dementia.  Most of us do not eat enough leafy greens and other veggies to maintain proper levels of magnesium and zinc.

That is why we need to supplement.

The federal government doesn’t evaluate or regulate supplements the way it does the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. Many supplements are as potent as any medicine. Too often dosages do not match what is on the label. The capsules may be filled with additives, colorings, flavorings, or allergens or the supplement’s formulation may not be optimized for absorption by your body. There have been instances where capsules contain none of the contents advertised.

One thing that is certain is that the JAMA declaration underscores a growing concern that the RDAs, recommended daily allowance, for vitamins and minerals are too low. We all need guidance in choosing the appropriate supplement to correct deficiencies, to slow down aging, to prevent chronic disease and protect ourselves from toxicity.

Where should you buy supplements?

Drug stores carry the least expensive and usually the lowest quality supplements.

Buying supplements on the internet is a good source but do your homework first. Once you decide which supplement you want to purchase, use the internet to find good pricing but, keep in mind, you will be bombarded by the marketing that companies use to get their brands top billing. The pitch and claims of high quality cannot always be believed. You might be distracted finding the exact product you intended to buy. (I don’t trust Amazon. I like to buy the product from the product’s website or from an online store like Vitacost.)

Natural food stores offer a range of quality and good variety. Many stores have professionals on staff to provide guidance.

Unfortunately, supplements can be junk. One way to avoid this is to only buy food-sourced supplements.

  • Food-based: the nutrients are extracted from food
  • Food-grown: nutrients are added to a yeast base
  • Whole foods: nutrients are concentrated into tablets or capsules

The companies that I like that are food-sourced:

Which supplements you need will depend on your age, life stage, level of wellness or unwellness, digestive ability, activity level, stress, the kind of diet you adhere to and what are the issues presenting.

I believe that a reasonable supplement programs should include a multivitamin-mineral supplement. The food-sourced companies listed above have good choices.

Take a vitamin D with at least 1,000 IU. This is especially important because more than 80% of the US population has insufficient levels of vitamin D. Our bodies synthesize vitamin D from sunlight and too many of us are working indoors or slathering too much sunscreen on to get enough vitamin D. Remember when I wrote about vitamin D at the beginning of the summer –  I suggested getting on average 15 minutes a day without sunscreen to satisfy our vitamin D synthesis. After that, I recommend that you wear sunscreen – every day!

Add 1,000-2,000 milligrams of vitamin C in supplement form. This one is tricky because everyone has a different level of tolerance. Start low and build up. (Loose stools are a sign that you have taken too much.) There are vitamin C supplements that have have reduced acidity and ones that are time-released.

Take 2-3 grams of omega-3 oil containing EPA/DHA. For vegans there are two blends that I like. Udo’s Oil 3.6.9 Blend and Nature’s Way Omega-3 plant-based from algal oil.

A probiotic supplement containing at least 3 billion live organisms is going to help with your digestion. Take with meals. Probiotics are living microorganisms. They are usually bacteria, but certain types of yeasts can also function as probiotics. There are dozens of different probiotic bacteria that offer health benefits. The most common groups include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Each group comprises different species, and each species has many strains. Interestingly, different probiotics address different health conditions. Start with a probiotic that has broad-spectrum probiotics like Garden of Life, Primal Defense. Your gut flora consists of hundreds of different types of microorganisms. Probiotics help your gut flora perform optimally!

And, finally, take magnesium glycinate. Magnesium helps maintain health, especially in your brain, heart, and muscles. Research published in Nutrition Reviews showed deficiencies in approximately 50%  of people in the United States. The recommended magnesium dose varies depending on:

  • age
  • gender
  • physiological conditions, such as pregnancy and nursing

According to research published by the American Physiology Society, magnesium supplements have been shown to help with:

  • migraine
  • anxiety
  • chronic pain
  • heart disease
  • diabetes

Magnesium glycinate is magnesium bound to glycine. This type of supplement has very good absorption levels.  Start with 300-400 mg at bedtime to help with sleep. (Magnesium citrate will cause loose bowels.) People with low magnesium often experience restless sleep, waking frequently during the night. Magnesium glycinate is one of the most absorbable forms of magnesium capsules you can take. It’s a good choice if you want to raise your levels quickly. Magnesium plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.


  • Broccoli originated in Italy, where it was developed from wild cabbage and has existed since about sixth century B.C.
  • The Italian name for broccoli is “broccolo,” meaning the flowering top of a cabbage. The word comes from the Latin word “brachium,” which means branch or arm.
  • Thomas Jefferson was a fan of broccoli and imported broccoli seeds from Italy, planting them at his home, Monticello, as early as May 1767.
  • Another president, George H.W. Bush, was not a fan. He used his distaste for broccoli as a punch line in dozens of speeches. He once said, “I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid, and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” In response, broccoli growers sent 10 tons of the vegetable to the White House.
  • In 2013, President Barack Obama announced that broccoli was his favorite food.
  • California produces 90 percent of the broccoli grown in the United States.
  • Vegetables related to broccoli are broccolini, a mix between broccoli and “gai-lin” (Chinese broccoli), and broccoflower, a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.
  • The average American eats over 4 lbs. of broccoli a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • The United States is the world’s third largest producer of broccoli. China, the top producer, grows over 8 million tons of the vegetable a year.

Broccoli is a green vegetable that vaguely resembles a miniature tree. It belongs to the plant species known as Brassica oleracea. It’s closely related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower, edible plants collectively referred to as cruciferous vegetables.

Broccoli is loaded with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other bioactive compounds.

One cup of raw broccoli has:

  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Protein: 2.6 gram
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Fiber: 2.4 grams
  • Vitamin C: 135% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 11% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 116% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate): 14% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 8% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 6% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 3% of the RDI

Broccoli has high levels of glucoraphanin, a compound that is converted into a potent antioxidant called sulforaphane during digestion. Broccoli also contains measurable amounts of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may prevent oxidative stress and cellular damage in your eyes.

Broccoli contains various bioactive compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation. Kaempferol, a flavonoid in broccoli, has strong anti-inflammatory results. A small human study in tobacco smokers also revealed that eating broccoli led to a significant reduction in markers of inflammation.

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, contain various bioactive compounds that may reduce cell damage caused by chronic diseases and multiple small studies have shown that eating cruciferous vegetables may protect against  breast, prostate, stomach, colorectal, kidney and bladder cancers.

Eating broccoli may support better blood sugar control in people with diabetes. This may be related to broccoli’s antioxidant content. One human study showed significantly decreased insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who consumed broccoli sprouts daily for one month.

Broccoli is also a good source of fiber. Some research indicates that higher intake of dietary fiber is associated with lower blood sugar and improved diabetic control. Elevated “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are known to be major risk factors for heart disease. Broccoli may play a role in improving these markers. Higher intake of fiber-rich foods like broccoli is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

Broccoli is rich in fiber and antioxidants which may support healthy bowel function and digestive health. Bowel regularity and a strong community of healthy bacteria within your colon are two vital components to digestive health. Eating fiber- and antioxidant-rich foods like broccoli may play a role in maintaining healthy gut function.

Some of the nutrients and bioactive compounds in broccoli may slow mental decline and support healthy brain and nervous tissue function. A study in 960 older adults revealed that one serving per day of dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, may help resist mental decline associated with aging. Sulforaphane is another potent bioactive compound present in broccoli with the potential to support brain function after an event of reduced oxygenation to the brain. Research shows that sulforaphane may have the capacity to slow the biochemical process of aging by increasing the expression of antioxidant genes.

Broccoli is loaded with vitamin C. Research indicates that vitamin C plays a role in both the prevention and treatment of various illnesses. A daily intake of 100–200 mg of vitamin C seems to be sufficient to prevent certain infections. A half-cup serving of cooked broccoli has 84% of the RDI for vitamin C.

Broccoli contains calcium which is associated with a decreased risk of periodontal disease. Kaempferol, a flavonoid found in broccoli, may also play a role in preventing periodontitis.

Broccoli is a good source of vitamin K and calcium, two vital nutrients for maintaining strong, healthy bones. It also contains phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A and C, which are also necessary for healthy bones.

Broccoli is also a good source folate which is important during pregnancy to support both mother and baby. Folate is an essential nutrient for the development of the fetal brain and spinal cord.

Research indicates that bioactive compounds in broccoli may protect against UV radiation damage which leads to skin cancer.

How to Buy

Choose broccoli heads with tight, green florets and firm stalks. The broccoli should feel heavy for its size. The cut ends of the stalks should be fresh and moist looking. Avoid broccoli with dried out or browning stem ends or yellowing florets.

The majority of broccoli sold in North America is the standard green variety. But purple and golden varieties can be found at some farmers markets and specialty markets. They taste and cook up just like the green kind.


How to Store

Store broccoli unwashed in  in the refrigerator. If bought very fresh (i.e. at a farmers market) broccoli will keep up to 10 days.

How to Cook

Broccoli can be eaten cooked or raw and both ways are healthy but provide different nutrient profiles. Different cooking methods, such as boiling, microwaving, stir-frying and steaming, alter the vegetable’s nutrient composition, particularly reducing vitamin C, as well as soluble protein and sugar. Steaming appears to have the fewest negative effects.

Rinse broccoli just before using it. For most preparations you’ll want to cut off the florets from the stem or stalk. Most people toss the stem, but if you take the time to cut off its tough exterior, the center is crunchy and good.

Raw broccoli works great in salads – although if you want to tame its sharp flavor simply blanch it. Or you can throw a few florets in a salad.

To steam broccoli:

Bring about 1/4 inch of water to a boil in a large frying pan. Add the broccoli florets. Cover and steam until as tender as you like (about 3 minutes for crisp-tender and up to 8 minutes for completely cooked, soft florets).

To roast broccoli:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss broccoli florets with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread in a single layer in a baking pan and bake until florets are tender and browned on the edges.

To sauté broccoli:

Heat a frying pan over high heat. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add broccoli florets cut into bite-size pieces (you can also include pieces of peeled stalk and the broccoli leaves). Cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is bright green and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of salt and a squirt of lemon juice. Add a clove or two of chopped garlic (added just before the broccoli), a dash of red chili flakes, a teaspoon of grated ginger, or a handful of chopped scallions.


Warm White Bean and Broccoli Salad with Balsamic Beets

Adapted from Robin Asbell

4-6 Servings


• 1 (15-oz.) can sliced beets, drained

• 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

• 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 tbsp. coconut nectar or maple syrup

• 2 tbsp. fresh thyme

• 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1 stalk broccoli

• 1 (15-oz) can white beans, drained


Stack the beets, then slice into julienne strips. In a 2-cup measuring glass, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, coconut nectar or maple syrup, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, and whisk to combine. Add the beets and stir gently to coat. Allow beets to marinate as you prep the salad.

Set up a steamer and bring the water in the bottom to a simmer. Slice the broccoli into large florets with long stems attached. Peel the broccoli stem and slice the stem. Place the white beans in the steamer with the broccoli on top and steam for 2 to 3 minutes, until the broccoli is crisp-tender and the beans are heated.

Transfer the beans and broccoli to a serving bowl. Use a slotted spoon to hold the beets in the measuring glass as you drizzle the beans and broccoli with the dressing. Pile the beets on top of the warm bean-broccoli mixture. Serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but expect the color to darken.

Note: Save time and effort by using canned beets and white beans. The red of the beets will tint the dressing and paint the white beans pink. From Robin Asbell.


Environmental Working Group. How much is too much? Appendix B: vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the U.S. June 19, 2014,d.aWw


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