Rest is critical to our health, and a nutrient-rich diet is one of the key lifestyle factors in getting a good night’s sleep. In this post, I’m breaking down a few of those nutrients, and how to get more of them into your life.
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Vitamin B12 is critical to our health for a variety of reasons. It supports our nerves, red blood cells and brain function. Studies show B12 keeps our circadian rhythms in check, which promotes healthy sleep-wake cycles.
One of the biggest critiques of a plant-based or vegan diet is lack of essential nutrients, B12 in particular. While it’s true B12 only comes from animal sources, there are ways to get B12 without eating meat, should you choose not to. The two major ways are through fortified foods and supplements. Some of the ones I have regularly are unsweetened plant milk and nutritional yeast.
Since I may not have these consistently, I also take a B12 supplement. I’ve been taking Sakara’s The Foundation for three months now, and I’m loving it. It contains a B-complex supplement, which includes B12 as well as folate, biotin and as an added boost, ashwagandha.
The benefits of magnesium are too many to list, and I consider it to be among the most important minerals to have. Magnesium supports everything from our muscles to our DNA repair, and there’s even a link to fighting depression. As someone with sensitive blood sugar, I especially like that it reduces insulin resistance.
When clients are dealing with sleep issues, this is what I always recommend adding in, especially right before bedtime. There are a couple of great magnesium products we have in our “medicine cabinet”. The first is Natural Calm, a powder that dissolves in liquid. My husband and I have this in hot water some evenings to wind down. It’s also great for red eye flights. The second is magnesium oil spray, this one being my favorite. You may experience a tingling sensation when you first spray it. Don’t worry – this goes away quickly, and then it’s lights out!
Amino acids are necessary for our bodies to function properly. There are 20 total, with 9 being considered essential. While the easiest way to get these are through animal foods, plant-based eaters should have no issues obtaining these so long as a variety of plant foods are eaten. Some great choices are tempeh, legumes, nuts, seeds and quinoa.
Five of the amino acids are linked to sleep. They are glycine, tryptophan, theanine, taurine and GABA. Again, as long as you have adequate intake of protein (whether animal or not), you’ll be getting your amino acids.
Quality sleep comes from a quality lifestyle.
The best formula for a good night’s sleep is a healthy, clean diet containing an abundant variety of plant foods plus adequate hydration, exercise and some outdoor time. Some high-quality supplements are great to fill any gaps, and of course, be mindful of caffeine consumption, especially later in the day.