What Supplements Should I Take? Top 4 Recommendation
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The biggest breakthrough in medicine in the last 100 years was the discovery that large amounts of, and combinations of, naturally occurring nutrients can help restore biochemical balance and reverse disease processes. This approach was first called `orthomolecular medicine’, but we have simplified this to `optimum nutrition’ and it is also often presented as ‘functional medicine. It involves treating diseases by understanding the true underlying causes, then creating an appropriate diet, lifestyle and recommend what supplements to take to restore health.
The greatest myth in nutrition is that ‘you can get all the nutrients you need from a well-balanced diet. This fundamental lie is even written into law; for example, no advertisement can claim otherwise. Yet it is wrong. There are many nutrients and many situations in which no amount of food can give you optimal amounts, or even very basic amounts, of nutrients essential to life.
One example is vitamin D. The further north you live, the greater your risk of heart disease, many cancers, osteoporosis, respiratory infections, multiple sclerosis and other quite common diseases. Why? Because we just don’t get enough sun exposure, which makes vitamin D in the skin, and all the above diseases are linked to low levels of vitamin D. You’d have to be eating at least a serving of oily fish a day to get close to the optimum levels of vitamin D. Alternatively you can take vitamin D supplements.
Another example is vitamin B12. Over half of all people aged over 65 have insufficient vitamin B12 in their blood. This lack of B12 is linked to brain shrinkage – leading to Alzheimer’s disease -as well as bone shrinkage, depression and an increased risk of stroke. This deficiency is due to poor absorption, and therefore no amount of meat, fish, eggs or milk in the diet will provide enough B12 for these people.
When you are sick, you need more of specific nutrients; for example, when you have a cold, you need about 1000mg of vitamin C an hour to get well; when you are well, by comparison, you’ll benefit from 1000mg twice a day. That is consistent with our evolution, during which we obtained high levels of nutrients from the food we ate, but it is unachievable with today’s food (1000mg of vitamin C, for example, equals 20 oranges).
For each disease, We have calculated the ideal supplement programme based on 3o years of clinical experience. If you were to consult a nutritional therapist, they would work out something similar based on your personal needs and circumstances. These supplements are in addition to the basic supplements that we recommend everyone to take daily.
In case you are new to health supplements, here are the basic building blocks of a good nutritional supplement programme, based on the research at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition to establish optimum daily allowances.
Theoretically, at one extreme you could take a multivitamin-mineral that contains everything you could possibly need. The trouble with this is that it would be enormous, impossible to swallow and no doubt gives you a lot more than you need of some nutrients. The other extreme is to take one supplement for each nutrient, exactly matching your requirements -but you’d end up with handfuls of pills.
Nutritional therapists use formulas – combinations of vitamins and minerals – that, when combined appropriately, more or less suit your needs. In a typical health-supplement programme, you may have four supplements to take. These formulas are like building blocks. So let’s check what supplements should you take.
1 Start with a high-potency multivitamin and multimineral
The starting point of any supplement programme is a high-potency multivitamin and multimineral. This should provide the following nutrients:
A good multivitamin should contain at least 2,000mcg (6,000iu) of vitamin A*, 10mcg (400iu) of D, 100iu of E, 25omg of C, roughly 25mg each of B„ B2, B3, B5 and B6, 10mcg of B12, 200mcg of folic acid and 5omcg of biotin.
* This includes beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A.
This should provide at least 3oomg of calcium, 10mg of magnesium, 10mg of iron, 10mg of zinc, 2.5mg of magnesium, 20mcg of chromium and 25mcg of selenium, and ideally some molybdenum, vanadium and boron.
You simply can’t fit all of the above vitamins and minerals into one tablet, so good, combined multivitamin-mineral formulas recommend two or more tablets a day to meet these kinds of levels. The biggest vitamins are vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. These are often insufficiently supplied in multivitamin formulas. Vitamin C, in particular, is best taken separately simply because you’ll never get 1000mg into a multi.
2 Add extra vitamin C and other immune-support nutrients
Vitamin C should be supplemented to provide around 1,800mg per day. This means taking a 900-1000mg vitamin C tablet twice a day. Since vitamin C is water-soluble, and in and out of the body in a few hours, it is much better to take it twice a day than all in one go. Vitamin C also provides other key immune-boosting nutrients like bioflavonoids or anthocyanidins in the form of black elderberry, bilberry and zinc. This is especially useful if you are taking large amounts for immune support.
3 Add extra antioxidant nutrients
The evidence is now very persuasive that the optimal intake of antioxidant nutrients slows down the ageing process and prevents a variety of diseases. This is why, it is well worth you should supplement extra antioxidant nutrients – on top of those in a good multivitamin – to ensure you are achieving the best possible ageing protection.
This is especially important the older you get. The kind of nutrients that are provided in an antioxidant supplement are vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene, zinc and selenium, possibly iron, copper and manganese, co-enzyme Q10. (CoQ10 ), the amino acids glutathione and N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), plus optional phytonutrients such as resveratrol, pycnogenol and grape-seed extract.
4 Add essential omegas
There are two ways of meeting your essential fat requirements: one is from diet, either by eating a heaped tablespoon of ground seeds such as chia seeds every day, taking a tablespoon of special cold-pressed seed oils and/or eating oily fish(such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring or anchovies) at least three times a week; the other is to supplement concentrated oils.
For omega-3 this means either flaxseed oil capsules or the much more concentrated and biologically active fish oil capsules providing EPA and DHA. You can get it from Omega-3 supplements. You can get Omega-6 from evening primrose oil or borage oil. Even better is a combination of all three – giving you EPA, DHA and GLA in one capsule. There is a third potent omega-3 fat called DPA which can convert into either DHA, important for brain building, or EPA, a potent anti-inflammatory. Some fish oil supplements provide EPA, DPA and DHA.
We recommend hedging your bets and eating oily fish three times a week and raw seeds or nuts most days and supplementing the essential omegas.
Even though these are not all recommended for every health issue, we recommend them as the basic building blocks of a good supplement programme. Then, there are optional extras – to be taken until your health issue resolves -to support the systems of your body that are out of balance.
Always take a high-potency multivitamin-mineral, extra vitamin C and essential fats (both omega-3 and -6), ideally twice a day. Take supplements every day — there is no logic in ‘taking a break’. During the winter, if you live far in the north or south, you may wish to add extra vitamin D. The older you are, the more antioxidants you need, so taking an antioxidant complex is an optional extra. Also, the older you are, the more B6, B12, folic acid and phospholipids (phosphatidylcholine and serine) you need, so taking a ‘brain food formula’ is another optional extra.
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