Many people take supplements because they believe that it will improve their health. This is particularly true for the ‘One-A-Day’ Multivitamin. I believe that the average “One-A-Day” multivitamin does little to improve health. People take it as an act of faith and as a sort of talisman to ward off bad things. Ideally, you should be able to get the nutrients you need from a well-balanced diet. However, augmenting your daily diet with supplements can help provide nutrients when your diet is lacking or when certain health conditions cause you to develop an insufficiency or a deficiency.
Many consumers self-prescribe supplements based on information they have gathered from online articles or from word of mouth. Collaborating with a qualified health practitioner can help streamline a protocol of quality supplements to your unique needs. Your practitioner can recommend specific brands to help ensure the supplements you add to your daily regimen are optimized for potency, purity and the best bio-availability. For many people the less expensive forms of vitamins are poorly absorbed. In addition, some people are unable to convert certain vitamins to their active form necessary for the body to benefit. The value of a good multivitamin is to enhance health on top of a well-balanced diet. Taking a multivitamin and not eating well is not a good thing to do.
My preferred multivitamin is Multi t/d by Pure Encapsulations which provides core essential nutrients and minerals. The therapeutic dose of this multivitamin/mineral is 2 capsules per day; however, benefit can be had from only 1 capsule per day. I vary the number of capsules I recommend based on background factors such as age, sex and underlying health problems. This formula combines active vitamin co-factors for optimal bio-availability with additional antioxidants that help with detoxification, prevention of inflammation and support of our ability to manage oxidative stress. In addition, this product is free of binders, excipients, flow agents and non-nutritive fillers, as well as wheat, casein and yeast. It does not contain copper or iron. Copper can increase the risk of chronic degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and cancers. Iron supplementation is not necessary for most people; dosing should be individualized when iron supplementation is necessary.
There are individuals who have a problem with a process called methylation. Methylation is facilitated by enzymes through a series of biochemical processes, altering the chemical makeup of various compounds within the body. Methylation is involved with detoxification, regulation of gene expression, protein function, RNA processing and healthy cellular function. Methylation is a biochemical process that helps to facilitate health. It is a necessary function for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Without proper methylation, we are at increased risk for:
- Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Diseases
- Neurologic Diseases (neuropathy, dementia)
- Psychological Problems
I recommend Methyl Assist by Pure Encapsulations, 1-3 capsules when there is evidence of inadequate methylation. Methyl Assist provides activated B vitamins to support healthy methylation, cardiovascular, neuronal and emotional well-being.
Homocysteine tests may be used to screen individuals at high risk for coronary artery disease as well as cases of suspected malnutrition. This is an inexpensive marker to evaluate methylation support. The homocysteine level can be followed over time to determine the adequacy of supplementation and proper nutrition through diet.
A daily supplement program should not be static and will change according to the body’s demands. Adjustments can be made based on the level of stress we are experiencing and the laboratory tests that have been recommended by your practitioner. A supplement program is not a substitute for reasonable efforts at optimizing lifestyle. One should still pay attention to diet, exercise, sleep hygiene and healthy relationships.
Support for Cardiovascular Benefits:
Many individuals believe that in order to lose weight, one must eliminate fat from their diet. This belief can be very harmful to the body as certain types of beneficial fats (essential fatty acids) are critical for proper function of the body. These essential, (“good”), fats must come from your diet; your body can not produce them on its own.
Two products that contain beneficial fats I often recommend include:
- Complete Omega Essential by Natura Health Products, dosed 4 capsules each day. Complete Omega Essential combines fish oil and select plant oils to provide optimal ratios of Omega-3,6,7, and 9 fatty acids along with naturally occurring carotenoids.
- EPA/DHA by Pure Encapsulations, dosed 2 capsules per day.
Both of these products support healthy cardiovascular, neurological, skeletal and the immune system while promoting a healthy inflammatory response.
Recent studies have shown that there is an inverse relationship between the level of DHA (docosohexanoic acid) in the blood and Alzheimer’s disease. The higher the level of DHA the lower the incidence of Alzheimer’s. Supplementing with adequate beneficial fats has been shown to have anti-inflammatory activity and cardio-protective activity, as well as, to provide cognitive and memory support.
Supplements that Reduce Inflammatory Stress:
Simple and inexpensive serum tests can be used to measure inflammation. Several tests I use in practice include C reactive protein, Sedimentation Rate and Ferritin. I will use other measures in people with more complex problems such as TGF beta1, C4a and MMP9.
Botanical supplements are best at reducing inflammatory stress. One of my favorite formulas is Inflammaway by Natura Health Products. The botanical herbs in Inflammaway; boswellia, feverfew, magnolia, andrographis, chinese skullcap, ginger and bromelain modulate the inflammatory response. A recommended dose is 3 capsules once or twice daily.
Support for Osteoporosis:
In women or men who may be at risk of osteoporosis, I recommend supplementing with a small amount of extra calcium. It is best to get as much of your daily calcium requirements from the foods you eat. The general recommendation is to get 600-1,200mgs of calcium per day. This requirement may be increased during rapid growth, trauma and wound healing, pregnancy and lactation. Most people think that dairy products are the only, or, best source of calcium, but Table I provides a list of non-dairy sources of calcium.
Essential bone enhancing nutrients also include Vitamin D and Vitamin K which work synergistically to support bone health. A product I use most often is Vitamin D-A-K by Natura Health Products, dosed one capsule per day. This balanced formula improves calcium absorption by the gut and inhibits calcium loss from the bone.
Table I: Calcium Sources in foods in milligrams per 8-ounce cup of the food.
DARK GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES:
- Arugula, raw; 125 mgs/cup
- Cooked turnip greens; 450 mgs/cup
- Cooked bok choy; 330 mg/cup
- Broccoli cooked; 180 mgs/cup
- Cooked collards; 300 mgs/cup
- Cooked kale; 200 mg/cup
- Parsley; 200 mgs/cup
- Cooked mustard greens; 180 mgs/cup
- Dandelion greens; 150 mg/cup
- Romaine lettuce; 40 mgs/cup
- Spinach cooked 240 mgs/cup
- Head lettuce; 10 mg/cup
- Soy; 50 mg/cup
- Mung; 35 mg/cup
- Alfalfa; 25 mg/cup
SEA VEGETABLES: (seaweed),
- Nori; 60 mg/cup
- Kombu; 60 mg/cup
- Wakame; 60 mgs per cup
BEANS: (cooked, ready to eat)
- Navy beans; 140 mg/cup
- Pinto Beans; 100 mg/cup
- Garbanzo Beans; 95 mg/cup
- Black Beans; 60 mgs/cup
- Lentils; 50 mgs/cup
- Split Peas; 20 mgs/cup
- Tapioca (dried); 300 mg/cup
- Brown Rice, cooked; 20 mgs/cup
- Quinoa, cooked; 80 mgs/cup
- Oats; 40 mgs/cup, tortillas
- Almonds 750; mg/cup
- Hazelnuts; 450 mg/cup
- Walnuts; 280 mgs/cup
- Sesame Seeds (whole, unhulled); 2,100 mgs/cup
- Sesame Tahini; 130 mgs/oz
- Sunflower Seeds; 260 mgs/cup
- Oyster (raw); 260 mgs/cup
- Shrimp; 300 mgs/cup
- Salmon (canned with bones); 490 mgs/cup
- Mackerel (one can with bones) 600 mgs
- Sardines (one can with bones); 1,000 mgs
- Canned Salmon eaten with bones; 440mgs
- Canned Sardines or Mackerel eaten with bones; 569 mgs
- Sesame Butter, (unhulled sesame seeds); 1022 mgs/cup, 64 mgs/TBS
- Tofu (regular, soft); 260 mgs/cup
- Tofu (firm, calcium set); 500 mgs/cup
- Milk, (skim, low fat, whole); 300 mg/cup
- Buttermilk; 300 mg/cup
- Cottage Cheese; 130 mgs/cup
- Yogurt; 450 mgs/cup
- Brie Cheese; 50 mgs/oz.
- Hard Cheese; 200 mgs/oz.
- Parmesan Cheese; 70 mgs/Tbsp
Support for Energy:
Mitochondria are the organelles within our cells that are responsible for producing energy. As we age, the number of mitochondria per cell decline and their ability to produce energy declines. Researchers have demonstrated that certain nutrients can reverse this process in animals. They have started to study this phenomenon in aging humans. The nutrients they use are Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinol). I have found that adding these supplements to a health regimen can improve one’s sense of well-being and improve the ability to recover from vigorous exercise. Dosing is dependent on an individual’s history and condition.
Power Adapt is a potent adaptogenic tonic designed to enhance endocrine function. It nourishes the spleen, kidneys and adrenal glands to support the Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) Axis. The HPA axis is an intrical relationship that exists between our pituitary gland, hypothalamus and adrenals. This system helps regulate levels of cortisol, nervous system activity and energy expenditure, as well as modulating the digestive and immune system. I recommend 1 to 3 capsules twice daily between meals. This is a great product for people who experience lagging energy in the mid-afternoon, as well as symptoms associated with physical or mental stress.
Supplements that Reduce Oxidative Stress:
One of the areas I address is a patient’s level of oxidative stress. This information can be obtained from simple and inexpensive serum measures of Ferritin, GGT, Homocysteine and Uric Acid.
Vitamins that reduce oxidative stress include:
- Carotenoids found in products such as Vitamin D-A-K by Natura Health Products
- Vitamin C by Pure Encapsulations
- Multi t/d by Pure Encapsulations
- Vitamin E as mixed tocopherols or mixed tocotrienols or Vitamin E succinate by Pure Encapsulations.
A Herbal/Botanical blend with strong anti-oxidant properties, I often use:
- Botanical Treasures by Natura Health Products is a concentrated food supplement that contains turmeric, green tea, Japanese knotweed, quercetin, grape seed and grape skin extracts, holy basil, rosemary, ginger and luo han. A preferred dose is 3 capsules once or twice per day.
The typical American diet primarily consists of processed foods, refined grains and added sugars. This increased consumption of unhealthy foods and sedentary lifestyle is linked to inflammation and chronic disease. Even if you are eating a well-balanced diet, you may still fall short of needed nutrients. Adding quality supplements can help fill the dietary gaps.
When choosing supplements be sure to carefully read the labels of all ingredients and pick a reputable brand that test via U.S. Pharmacopeia or USP, NSF International and Consumerlab. These agencies test and audit to ensure that supplements meet strict standards of quality. In addition, these regulatory organizations offer an array of resources to help protect public health and promote sustainable living.
To effectively achieve optimal health and strive for “vitality,” it is most advantageous to partner with a qualified healthcare provider.
Warren M. Ross, M.D.