Basic Program Suggestions
Of course, supplements are just that, not a replacement for a sound diet. They certainly do help fill in nutritional holes and make up for unique metabolic needs. This page describes a program for an average person. However, YOU are not average and may find from experience and testing that you need more or less. If you have a special health concern, please consult a nutrition-oriented physician. Information and statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Laying a firm foundation with high quality fundamental supplements ultimately means that fewer supplements will be needed to work on specific complaints.
I promise you that I don’t own stock in a single company mentioned here! I may link to HealthWorks Mart to show you what the product looks like but, I don’t work for them either. However, I do trust that store because the owner stocks the products I like (and he is my son so I like to think he learned to put the customer first).
- Probiotics and Digestive Aid. You might be surprised to see this listed first. However, if you think about it, you will quickly realize that if digestion isn’t good, you won’t make the best of the nutrients in your food or your other supplements. After reading about all the many jobs performed by your probiotics (friendly bacteria) you will be clear why this is at the top of the list. As we age, our ability to create stomach acid and digestive enzymes is impaired. So, I often recommend those as well. They can be purchased in a combination product such as Twinlab’s Super Enzymes.
- Multi-Vitamin/Mineral – A necessary bit of nutritional insurance to fill in the nutrient gaps in our food. There are a lot of good choices in a health food store. Some key attributes to look for:
- B vitamins at high levels, e.g. at least 50 mg
- Natural vitamin E. (D-alpha, not Dl-alpha) The synthetic doesn’t work as well and it occupies sites that the natural would otherwise use.
- Absorbable forms of minerals such as chelates. Some highly advertised brands have cheap rock-like forms.
- No nickel. I have never seen a client that needed to increase their levels of nickel. (In reports from testing for minerals and toxins, it is listed on the toxic side.)
- Free of chemical junk. Some highly advertised brands put in all kinds of stuff for marketability and their tableting convenience: sugar, artificial colors that contain aluminum, artificial flavors, chemicals, carnauba wax, paint pigments & anti-freeze to name a few. No kidding! AVOID these. Look at this label. It is an example of one of those highly advertised vitamin supplements that contains many of these unnecessary ingredients, as well as relatively low amounts of nutrients (mostly in synthetic and less absorbable forms). See if you don’t fare better with a natural product instead.
- Vitamin D – It has long been known that vitamin D is required to build bone. However, widespread deficiencies of vitamin D have begun to call attention to other benefits. The non-profit Vitamin D Council says that the vitamin is “a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.” Deficiency is due only in part to inadequacy in food but also to people following advice to stay out of the sun and to use sunscreen. (Sun is the natural source of this vitamin.) Multivitamin/minerals usually contain very little. Many experts think the daily amount should be 1-2,000 IU. Other noted authorities say that the average adult needs 5,000 IU per day (or 1,000 IU per 25 lbs of body weight). Testing is clearly the best idea. The correct test is 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D ( NOT 125 Hydroxy Vitamin D. 20% of docs mistakenly order that test which may show high levels when you are really deficient). See this article for a thoughtful reaction to inadequate government guidelines.
- Fish Oil -We have to really work at getting enough omega 3, especially because there is so much omega-6 in the food supply. This essential fat has been shown to be of benefit in prevention of heart disease, cancer and depression. It helps lower of triglycerides, reduces inflammation, improves bone health and aids dozens of other conditions. If you re-taste the supplement after you swallow it that is a sign it might not be fresh. Nordic Naturals is a very responsible brand that I take myself.
- Bone Formula – It takes quite a number of nutrients to build bone. Jarrow’s BoneUp is a very well thought out combination of high quality ingredients. Listen to this excellent interview with Valerie Hall to better understand how to build bones that are not only dense but appropriately flexible instead of brittle. Vitamin K2 is an important part of the equation. Click here to see studies on its role not only for bone, but also in preventing and possibly reversing hardening of the arteries.
- Magnesium – If the total elemental magnesium in your multi plus the bone combination and other supplements doesn’t add up to at least 450 mg, you might want to consider a separate magnesium supplement. See the Magnesium page for information on this crucial but often deficient mineral.
- Vitamin C complex – Even conservative government-sponsored research shows that 500 mg of this basic antioxidant is needed for most people. Other studies show that a person who is toxic or sick may need a great deal more, even up to several grams per day. Vitamin C has antihistamine properties, so allergy sufferers may feel better with more. If higher amounts produce a loose stool, then reduce the amount and/or change the form. Forms buffered with minerals (ascorbates) are gentler on the stomach. “Complex” means that the supplement includes bioflavonoids. Those boost the effectiveness of C, protect the circulatory system and help diabetics avoid damage to insulin-insensitive tissues like the eyes and kidneys. I put a powder in my protein drink and take this one as a capsule.
After you’ve laid a good foundation, if you have the resources to take additional supplements, these are supplements to consider because they have broad benefits.
- CoQ10 – This is a “co-enzyme” produced by the body and found in the cells of all breathing, living things. It is an essential nutrient that helps support cellular and cardiovascular function. It does this by supplying the biochemical ‘spark’ that creates cellular energy. Our supply of CoQ10 diminishes as we age and takes a dramatic dip when “statin” cholesterol-lowering drugs are used. CoQ10 is one of the most important supplements for anyone with congestive heart failure. Either use a ubiquinol form such as this fine product by Jarrow or at least take care to take the less expensive forms along with a meal that contains fat.
- Glutathione booster – Glutathione is the master antioxidant in the body and restores many of the others as well as being a detoxifier of pesticides and heavy metals. Unfortunately we have lower levels as we age. Oral supplements of glutathione are not well absorbed. I prefer to take a probiotic strain called ME-3 that greatly raises Glutathione from the inside! It comes in 3 Reg’Activ combinations with other nutrients for special purposes: Cardiovascular, Detox / Liver, and Immune / Vitality.
- Longevinex – Longevinex is the most well studied and beneficial combination I am aware of for slowing the ravages of aging and for prevention (and even reversal) of many chronic diseases such as Macular Degeneration.
- Vitamin E Complex – As noted under multivitamin/mineral above, the most effective form of E is the natural, d-alpha-tocopherol. But it is also important to look for mixed tocopherols. They supply the rest of the vitamin E family-gamma, delta and beta tocopherols. Tocotrienols are also part of the vitamin E family and research has shown benefit for heart disease, diabetes and various cancers. This is the supplement I take, again a product from Jarrow Formulas.
Why isn’t calcium on the list by itself? That mineral has been crammed down our throats and is now being consumed to excess by those in middle age and beyond. I don’t recommend supplementing calcium unless there is a good reason and it is combined with vitamin K2 to make sure it goes into bone, not the arteries. Here is an important book on Vitamin K2 and another on the problems with excess calcium.
I do not apologize for taking a handful of supplements because that has allow me to get pretty old without having to take any pharmaceuticals.
Copyright 2005-2014 by Martie Whittekin, CCN