“Your genes may load the gun, but your lifestyle pulls the trigger.”
~Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT 

What you put in your body via your gastrointestinal tract [GI] is your inside link to the outside world. It will help or hinder your desired snowshoeing outcomes.SM - Synergy5

Your GI tract filters what enters your bloodstream and what is discarded.

Your immune system is profoundly impacted by your gut health.

Your immune system will help determine whether your snowshoeing experience is one of effort or struggle.

Plant-based, whole foods provide an array of nutrients you need to excel.

Synergy is the effect of two or more units working together to produce a result not obtainable by each unit independently.

Know that each bite determines your well-being.

A nutrient-deficient diet laced with anti-nutrients destroys your body beginning with your mouth and blindsides your snowshoeing before you leave the house.

It is often a slow, unnoticeable and debilitating process on the outside but is proficient on the inside always seeking a higher gear when you make less than optimal food choices.

Virtually every traditional meal in our society combines a protein with a starch. Eight of ten people have digestive issues. Digestive issues create lucrative opportunities for pharmaceutical, medical, supplement and food industries – and it keeps physicians in business.

It is no secret the prevalence of GI disorders is attributed in most cases to what one chooses to eat.

Physicians mainly treat symptoms by prescribing medications. Medical school focuses on correcting nutritional deficiencies versus nutrition fundamentals. This frontline method of defense is isolated, microscopic and reductionist health care.

A [w]holistic approach to wellness is as vital as consuming whole foods versus isolated nutrients. Wellness is about possibilities not pathology. It is about balance, harmony and synergy not a rigid, short-term medication policy to suppress symptoms.

Optimum wellness and sports performance require awareness and discipline. It also mandates accountability.

Change how you look and feel, regain your health, rid your dependence on medications and addictive foods, and dramatically enhance your snowshoeing and trail running experiences simply by making appropriate food choices.

Pil PopperDecades of research pinpointed genetics as the primary source for which diseases you are likely to contract during your lifetime.

It is now understood that your body has only one disease process but multiple expressions of that disease – depending on your genetic background.

The reality is your lifestyle – especially nutrition and exercise – establishes whether or not those genes are expressed or remain dormant.

The connection among diet, exercise and disease has been clearly established despite your genetic predisposition.

A plant-based, whole foods diet is the most powerful way to prevent and reverse chronic and degenerative diseases. Several studies show this lifestyle to be the most advantageous route to achieving and sustaining optimal health and endurance sports performance.

Find below a crib sheet of what your body needs to help you truly experience synergistic snowshoeing. The daily requirements listed will vary if you are pregnant, lactating or have special needs. Please visit your health care professional or registered dietitian.

Vitamins B12 and D represent the only exceptions in which supplementation may be necessary.


Fat-soluble vitamins require fat for absorption. These vitamins are stored in your tissue and excreted via feces. Excess doses can lead to toxicity. These vitamins are A, D, E and K.

Water-soluble vitamins can be dissolved in water and are eliminated in the urine. These vitamins need to be replenished daily and include the eight B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. It is best to consume raw sources of water-soluble vitamins because heat denatures its enzymatic and nutrient structure. 

~Vitamin A

Vitamin A represents a group of compounds vital to growth, vision, reproduction and immune function. Preformed vitamin A is found only in animal foods. Provitamin carotenoids [antioxidants] which can be converted to vitamin A are abundant in fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin A supports growth and repair of muscles and maintains red and white blood cells – crucial for snowshoeing performance. Vitamin A helps resist infection after exertion which facilitates regeneration.

Recommended Daily Allowance [RDA] is 900 micrograms for men and 700 micrograms for women. Plant sources include orange and dark green vegetables, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, kale, mangos, papaya and cantaloupe.GNC Vitamin A

~Vitamin B1 [Thiamin]

Vitamin B1 helps convert carbohydrate into energy. It is responsible for maintaining high energy levels characteristic of snowshoers. Its presence is in a variety of foods.

RDA for thiamin is 1.2 and 1.1 milligrams for men and women, respectively.

Plant sources include quinoa, oats, barley, beans, peas, legumes, nutritional yeast, tahini, blackstrap molasses, nuts, brown rice and brewer’s yeast.

~Vitamin B2 [Riboflavin]

Vitamin B2 plays a key role as a coenzyme in energy metabolism and red blood cell production. Red blood cells transport oxygen to your muscles. Riboflavin breaks down amino acids to facilitate recovery after snowshoeing.

RDA is 1.3 milligrams for men and 1.1 milligrams for women. Plant sources include barley, beet greens, blackstrap molasses, nutritional yeast, nuts, spinach, sea vegetables, brown rice, legumes and fortified plant milks and cereals.

~Vitamin B3 [Niacin]

Niacin metabolizes glucose and fatty acids, carbohydrate and protein in its conversion of food to energy. It is vital in the production of DNA. Vitamin B3 keeps your digestive system well in order to extract trace minerals to boost your snowshoeing performance.

RDA is 16 milligrams for men and 14 milligrams for women. Plant sources include barley, nutritional yeast, beets, mushrooms, tempeh, peas, potatoes, avocados, sunflower seeds and tahini. 

~Vitamin B5 [Pantothenic Acid]

Vitamin B5 helps convert food to energy. it facilitates the production of steroids – a vital part of regeneration after snowshoeing Pantothenic Acid aids the release of energy from carbohydrate, manufacturers glucose and synthesizes fatty acids.

RDA is 5 milligrams for adults. Plant sources include cantaloupe, guava, mangos, oranges, papaya, broccoli, bell peppers, kohlrabi, avocados, seeds, amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa.

Organic Food~Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is integral to your nervous and immune systems properly functioning.

t protects against heart disease and contributes to the snowshoer’s cardiovascular health by circulating greater blood volume – thanks to red blood cell proliferation.

RDA is 1.3 milligrams for men and women ages 19 to 50; 1.7 milligrams for men and 1.5 milligrams for women older than 50.

Plant sources include bananas, figs, raisins, chickpeas, lentils, sweet potatoes, tomato juice, avocados, oats, walnuts and fortified plant milks and cereals.

~Vitamin B7 [Biotin]

Biotin acts a coenzyme during the synthesis of glucose and fatty acids in addition to the metabolism of amino acids and other lipids.

RDA is 30 micrograms for adults – limited data. Plant sources include oat bran, oatmeal, almonds, peanut butter, lentils, black-eyed peas, mushrooms, nutritional yeast and spinach.


Folate is a member of the vitamin B family that helps produce and maintain new cells. It teams with vitamin B12 to produce oxygen-carrying red blood cells and promotes muscle repair. Folate also aids the snowshoer by helping your heart maintain smooth, rhythmic beats during exertion.

RDA is 400 milligrams for both men and women. Plant sources include asparagus, collard greens, beets, green leafy vegetables, spinach, pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, orange juice, amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa.

~Vitamin B12 [Cobalamin]

Vitamin B12 assists with red blood cell formation, neurological function, DNA creation and the conversion of food to usable energy. Plants and animals cannot synthesize vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is found in the bacteria, microorganisms and fungi consumed by the animal before it is eaten by a human.

Animals absorb vitamin B12 produced by the bacteria in their intestines. Carnivores get their daily supply through animal foods. Vitamin B12 is unique because in order for it to be absorbed it requires ‘intrinsic factor’ to be produced by the stomach.

Cobalamin is the only nutrient a herbivore cannot attain from food or sunlight. Vitamin B12 deficiency in herbivores is rare but serious. Unless you regularly consume the below plant sources deficiency is probable. Vitamin B12 supplements are available.

Supplementation at 5-10 micrograms per day is recommended if one does not consume any of the listed plant sources.Vitamin Pills2

Herbivores can request a MMA [methylmalonic acid] or homocysteine test to determine a blood cobalamin deficiency.

Make certain to purchase methylcobalamin versus cyanocobalamin. The former is better absorbed, retained  longer by your tissue, and does not leave a pesky, poisonous cyanide molecule after being metabolized – you read that correctly. The latter [of course] is more prevalent on store shelves.

RDA is 2.4 micrograms for men and women. Plant sources include fortified plant milks and cereals, nutritional yeast, miso and sea vegetables.

~Vitamin C [Ascorbic Acid]

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that performs a myriad of functions in your body. It mitigates the tissue and muscle damage from snowshoeing. it helps create collagen, L-Carnitine and neurotransmitters, metabolize protein, enhance immune function and iron absorption.

RDA is 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women. Plant sources include bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, guava, papaya, pineapple, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, kohlrabi, turnip greens and tomatoes.

SM - synergy8 ~Vitamin D

Everyone is at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Every cell in your body contains vitamin D receptors – which provides an indication of its importance.

It is estimated that 70-97 percent of the U.S. population is lacing in vitamin D.

Vitamin D is responsible for maintaining blood levels for calcium and phosphorous absorption. Vitamin D also supports your cardiovascular system and helps ensure smooth muscle contractions.

A cholesterol compound in your skin [7-dehydrocholesterol] is activated by UVB exposure and produces vitamin D. Sunshine is important to the production of vitamin D and its vital roles in regulating our endocrine system and sleep patterns.

Low vitamin D levels are linked to most chronic and degenerative diseases and some cancers.

Request a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test from your physician. Your blood level should be at least 35 ng/mL with optimum levels at least 50 ng/mL. Continue with a sun exposure regimen for at least two months after your results. It may be necessary to add a supplement if a deficiency still exists.

Vitamin D2 is a vegan source made from yeast. Vitamin D3 is derived from animals. Higher doses of D2 may be necessary to equal the D3 levels because of potential absorption issues but both versions effectively elevate the blood level.

RDA is 600 IU for everyone to age 70 and 800 IU for adults older than age 70. Sunshine is the best source with nutritional yeast and fortified plant milks viable options.

~Vitamin E

The antioxidant properties of vitamin E reduce the stress your body incurs from snowshoeing and thwarts oxidation. Vitamin E regulates an optimal ratio of HDL [good] and LDL [bad] cholesterol.

This ratio is vital to a snowshoer’s growth hormone production and regeneration during the recovery phase. It also monitors gene expression, immune function and related metabolic processes.

RDA is 15 milligrams for adult men and women. Plant sources include avocados, wheat germ/oil, flaxseed/oil, hemp oil, pumpkin seeds/oil, almonds, soybeans, olives and green leafy vegetables.

~Vitamin K

Vitamin K is all about blood clotting. It helps with bone metabolism, mitigates the breakdown of bone minerals and bolsters bone composition. Vitamin K channels nutrients to your heart for optimal function while snowshoeing.

RDA is 120 micrograms for men and 90 micrograms for women. Plant sources include leafy green vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, lentils, peas and pine nuts.

Add nuts, seeds, olives or avocados to your green vegetables to enhance absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins.SM - Synergy9


Minerals are divided into two segments based on adequate intake [AI] requirements.

Macrominerals are known as “bulk elements” because your body requires at least 100 milligrams per day.

Microminerals are know as “trace elements” because 15 milligrams or less per day is required for optimal growth and development. These elements are positioned in your tissue.

Minerals come from the soil. You can bypass an unnecessary step in attaining more minerals by eating plant foods. There are nine essential trace elements – chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, zinc, and fluoride.

Most of the minerals listed are easily acquired from plant-based sources; so, the focus here will be on calcium, iron and zinc due to absorption issues.


Snowshoers require calcium to ensure rhythmic heartbeats and proper muscle contraction in addition to bone density and repair. Blood clotting, nerve transmissions and the secretion of hormones and enzymes are additional tasks.

More than 95 percent of your body’s calcium is housed in your skeleton. Snowshoers require a higher intake because of the calcium lost via muscle contraction and perspiration. Muscle cramps and an irregular heartbeat may signify a deficiency.

It is more important how much calcium you absorb than how much you consume. Combine calcium with vitamin D to maximize absorption.

AI is 1,000 milligrams per day for men and women ages 19 to 50 and 1,200 milligrams after age 50. Plant sources include leafy green vegetables, broccoli, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, bok choy, dried figs, sesame seeds, tahini, beans, nuts, seeds and tofu.

Calcium supplements are often derived from oyster shells and dolomite, thus, ineffective. Combine the foregoing foods with plenty of exercise and you will have strong bones for a lifetime.

SM - Synergy3~Iron

Iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutritive deficiency on the planet despite an abundance of the mineral. Iron levels are higher in plant-based diets.

Nearly two-thirds of the iron in your body is found in the protein of red blood cells [hemoglobin].

This critical to the snowshoer because hemoglobin transports oxygen from the respiratory organs to the tissue where nutrients are converted to energy.

Heme iron is found in animal flesh. It is absorbed better than nonheme [plant-based] iron.

Excess heme in the blood has been linked to insulin resistance and heart disease – due to the saturated fat, cholesterol, steroids, hormones and antibiotics accompanying the flesh.

Nonheme iron sources include spinach, beet greens, kidney beans, pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, tahini, dried apricots, and blackstrap molasses.Include vitamin C with your nonheme iron-rich food to improve absorption.

RDA is 8 milligrams daily for men ages 19 to 50 and 18 milligrams per day for women in the same age bracket. Decrease to 8 milligrams daily for men and women older than age 50.

Iron supplements promote oxidation which accelerates the impact of free radicals and increases your risk for chronic and degenerative diseases. Iron supplements may be a short-term solution under strict guidance of a health care professional only when a deficiency exists.


Zinc is required every day because of its role in metabolism, immune function, protein and DNA creation and muscle regeneration. It is recommended that herbivores increase their RDA by 50 percent due to phytates binding to zinc solely to hamper absorption.

RDA is 11 milligrams for men and 8 milligrams for women. Plant sources include cashews, almonds, kidney beans, peas and chick peas.


Thyroid hormone production depends on this mineral. It directly impacts the snowshoer because of its ability to maintain energy via protein fabrication and fat metabolism.

Iodine can be difficult to find in food. Iodine deficiency is a global public health concern. Snowshoers require more iodine because of high levels of it are lost just by sweating.

RDA is 150 milligrams daily for adults. Plant sources include navy beans, baked potato w/ peel, sea vegetables – especially dulse and kelp.

Experience the profound benefits of eating close to nature by choosing to integrate more of these foods into your life.




~”The Thrive Diet” by Brendan Brazier http://www.thethrivediet.com:

~“On Nutrition and Physical Performance” by Dr. Douglas N. Graham http://www.foodnsport.com;

~“Guide to Sports Nutrition” by OrganicAthlete / Bradley Saul – President http://www.organicathlete.org:

~The Plant-Based Dietitian / Julieanna Hever MS, RD, CPT http://www.plantbaseddietitian.com:

~”The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition” by Julieanna Hever MS, RD, CPT

~Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine http://www.pcrm.org



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Jeff Kildahl

View posts by Jeff Kildahl

Jeff Kildahl is a writer, author, wellness consultant and philanthropist advancing preventive health care by synthesizing primary source nutrition and fitness as the principal components of the practice of medicine.

Kildahl is a sponsored vegan ultra-endurance athlete credentialed in bioenergetics, biomechanics, metabolic efficiency™ testing, sport nutrition, and natural medicine. He is a dynamic member of CUBE™ ~ a professional speakers group ~ empowering others to harmonize the "Keys to Living in the Song of Life."

He is the wellness editor at Snowshoe Magazine, United States Snowshoe Association columnist, and contributor to health, fitness and wellness sites, blogs and publications. He is a US-based ultra-endurance athlete and philanthropist for the 100 FOR 100 Movement ~ https://100for100.me.

Kildahl is the creator and president of The Wholistic Edge® ~ a visionary firm providing synergistic solutions to transcend health, performance, and potential in life and sport from the inside out via the principles of Performance Medicine™ ~ http://thewholisticedge.com.