How lifestyle affects your nutrient requirements
At Rootine, we view lifestyle as important information that helps define your unique nutrients needs, just like genetic data and blood levels. Take into account only one or two of these factors, and you get a hazy picture of your nutritional requirements. To create the ideal combination of your personalized vitamin and mineral microbeads, we carefully assess each of these three elements.
Lifestyle itself won’t tell us everything on its own, but it’s a big clue as to what nutrients you’re missing from your daily intake.
Lifestyle is a broad term, and can be split into several categories. At Rootine, we consider age, gender, weight, diet and other lifestyle factors. With this in mind, let’s dive into how your lifestyle affects your nutritional requirements.
Why personalized nutrient dosages are so important
The US spends $3.5 trillion on healthcare. Unfortunately, it’s a misguided investment: 10% of premature deaths are due to inadequate healthcare. But the elephant in the room is the 40% of premature deaths caused by behavior patterns .
You read that right, and it’s worth repeating: our lifestyle habits cause 40% of premature deaths in America. It’s safe to say the government isn’t allocating trillions to get us to live healthier lifestyles and take the appropriate dosages of nutrients.
Like any national (and in this case, global) crisis, there is not just one or two causes, but many, many interconnected ones. Factors range from the rampant obesity epidemic, to our historical transition from hunter and gatherer lifestyles to carb-consuming agriculturalists.
Let’s explore the relevant lifestyle factors that we measure at Rootine.
How age and gender affects nutrition
For nearly all essential vitamins and minerals listed under the The Food and Nutrition Board’s daily intake recommendations, the dosages for men and women are different. As similar as humans are on a molecular level, biological gender and certain phases in our lives dictate different nutritional needs.
According to Nutrition.gov, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding have special nutritional requirements. Meanwhile, postmenopausal women may require more Vitamin D3 and Calcium, while up to a third of all people in the US experience a thinning of the stomach lining after the age of 50, reducing the amount of Vitamin B12 absorbed,.
As you get older and your body gets weaker, you move around and exercise less. This causes lowered calorie requirements and diminished hunger, leading to inadequate nutrient intake from food. At Rootine, we automatically modify your vitamin dosages to account for your change in age.
Age and gender are vital in understanding your nutritional requirements. By factoring in your genetic data from your DNA kit results, as well as other lifestyle factors and blood nutrient levels, we are able to create an accurate blueprint of your body’s requirements and deficiencies.
Why weight influences your nutrient needs
Besides age and gender, weight is a major component of Rootine’s nutritional assessment. Obesity, for example, is rampant in the US. Although individuals are overeating, they tend to undereat nutritionally-rich foods, and studies have shown people who are obses are deficient in Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Folic Acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin B12.
Body Mass Index (BMI), or the measure of body fat in adults, is another important factor we consider, as those with a higher BMI may need more nutrients.
However, if you’re eating healthy, you may be surprised how difficult it is to lose weight. The answer may be that some of your body weight genes are predisposed to excessive weight. We measure a total of eight genes associated with body weight - these are crucial to understanding how you can lose weight in an uphill genetic battle.
Why diet influences your nutrient needs
You get most of your nutrients from a balanced diet. If you’re actively avoiding dairy because of intolerance or you’re following a Paleo diet, you may need to incorporate Calcium-rich foods and consider Vitamin D supplements. Vegetables are crucial to supplying you with enough B vitamins, Vitamin A and Vitamin E, among others, so if you’re skimping on those, we take this into account from your lifestyle assessment.
Lifestyle choices that affect your diet can have an impact on nutritional requirements. Vegetarians and vegans - especially those heavily involved in athletic activities - usually don’t get enough Vitamin B12. Beef, eggs, dairy products, fish and poultry are all rich in B12; excluding these from your diet may require you to take B12 supplements.
Sometimes, it’s media that steers us in the wrong direction. Take gluten, one of the media’s favorite health topics to demonize. If you don’t have a gluten intolerance, you might be missing out on nutrient-rich foods if you avoid gluten altogether. Whole grains with gluten have plenty of fiber and nutrients, including Selenium, B vitamins, Magnesium and Iron.
Whole grains are also a source of, so if you’re on a gluten-free diet, you may be lacking enough Selenium to support growth and development in the body. If you do have a gluten intolerance, it is especially important to ensure your blood levels don’t show deficiencies in these vitamins!
Genetics plays a larger role in diet requirements than many realize. Say your diet is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. These acids are often called “healthy fats”. But if you have a certain genetic variation of the APOA1 gene, additional Omega 3 might be useless, or can even negatively affect your cholesterol levels.
Calcium intake is another example. If you’re carrying an LCT gene variant that makes you prone to becoming lactose intolerant, you’re avoiding dairy products and missing out on around 200mg of Calcium per day. In this case, you might need to add more Calcium-rich foods to your diet.
These four critical lifestyle factors - age, gender, diet and weight are major components of Rootine’s lifestyle assessment. However, we like to be extra thorough. In addition to these four, we also look at several important lifestyle factors, such as exercise and smoking, mood, and environmental conditions like UV exposure and stressful surroundings. Let’s dive in.
How lifestyle habits may cause nutrient deficiency
If you’re a smoker, or you know people in your close circle who smoke, there are some serious deficiency concerns you should be aware of. Studies have shown that cigarette smoking increases Vitamin E, Vitamin C and B vitamin requirements, and decreases Calcium absorption. And this is only scratching the surface.
While smoking is a universally-acknowledged “unhealthy” thing to do, going to the gym and playing sports, in most cases, is a “healthy” habit. But the problem with binary thinking is that we miss important information.
Take free radicals as an example. These molecules damage tissue and cells, and accelerate aging. Athletes actually produce more of these molecules as a natural consequence of heightened energy consumption during intensive exercise.
To ensure increased free radical activity is kept at bay - and you continue looking young and feeling healthy - your antioxidant intake should be up to snuff. Here’s a decent explainer on the free radicals vs. antioxidants fight; you can also find more information on genes and free radicals in the Rootine Science box directly below.
Rootine Science: Genes and free radicals
On the genetics side, Co-enzyme Q10 (coQ10) and the GPX1 gene both help protect us from free radicals. To ensure coQ10 acts as an effective antioxidant, its associated gene (NQ01) should be functioning properly; and if the GPX1 gene is impaired, you may need a higher dosage of Selenium to protect against free radicals (read more about GPX1 and Selenium here).
At Rootine, we understand that even doing “good” things can be harmful. If you’re Soul Cycling ‘till you drop, but have gene variants that predispose you to heart conditions, you should be counterbalancing this with the proper nutrient intake and lifestyle tweaks.
Environmental factors that affect your nutrition
Vitamin D3, called the “sunshine vitamin”, is produced by sun exposure on your skin. How much sun you get depends on where you live. If you’re near the equator, you get plenty, but if you’re on the top half of east coast US, you might not be getting enough (consequently, this may also trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder).
However, one study notes that “unrealistically long exposure times are sometimes required to obtain recommended Vitamin D doses through skin”. In this case, your nutrient levels in your your blood will clue us into whether you’re in need of additional Vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to anxiety, fatigue and even depression. If you’re in a city, you might also be affected by noise pollution and a generally stress-inducing environment. Chronic stress has actually been shown to deplete Vitamin B12. City folk, pay attention!
A final note
Lifestyle habits can get in your way, wreaking havoc on your body. But no one is perfect, and that’s why we’re here to help. Diet and proper supplements can go a long way in helping you feel your best.
But lifestyle isn't everything, and you shouldn't fall for the media hype or brands who claim otherwise. It is key to look at all factors to get a better understanding of your vitamins and mineral requirements, including genetics and nutrient levels in your blood.
Rootine does all the hard work for you, considering important lifestyle elements and genetic factors, as well as nutrient levels, to create your personalized monthly supply of vitamin and mineral packets. To learn more about our process, see this article.
Questions about lifestyle and nutritional requirements?
Have additional questions about how your lifestyle and genetic factors impact your nutrient requirements? Email our Chief Scientists and co-founder, Daniel Wallerstorfer, PhD, at firstname.lastname@example.org to get an answer within 48 hours!