Supplements 101: What everyone needs to know, and what NOT to buy
It is very important that we not use supplements randomly. They can be just as dangerous as medications, especially for those taking multiple medications, or living with a medical diagnosis.
Everyone should use their blood test, during an annual physical, or health evaluation, to determine what and how much of a supplement you need. Some physicians do not request or believe in testing Vitamin D or B-12, but if you are 30 or above, insist upon these tests to be included in your physical. There is more than enough proven science to include an annual Vitamin D test, and still some will question. Remember, they work for you.
RECOMMENDATION CRITERIA: I only use and recommend supplements from companies I have reviewed extensively, and do so annually. This means going through a thorough review, based on ownership, source and quality of ingredients, manufacturing practices, and testing, both of product and label. My primary criteria: family or privately owned and operated; manufacturers product and sources all ingredients; tests product and label internally and from an outside certified institution/second or third parties. Does not use genetically modified ingredients, or fillers, and no artificial colors and or dyes.
Supplement Quality When Necessary Is Key. I do not believe or promote a life of supplementing your way to health. There isn’t a magic pill. But I do believe we need to supplement when our bodies are being compromised and can’t get what we need from food. We often need help from supplements to repair and restore our
bodies, so when doing so, make sure you are using only a quality, proven product. Most important: Not all supplements are created equal, and many are just a waste of money.
Buy liquid capsules or sublingual forms over tablets. This is one area where you get what you pay for. Big box stores or chains like Wal-mart/SAM’s, Cosco, Walgreens and CVS have been criticized and even prosecuted for selling supplements that aren’t what they say to be on the label.
What Everyone Should Be Taking or Getting from Food.
Vitamin D3 – plays a critical role in overall health and a large percentage of individuals are deficient. The only vitamin the body can manufacture from sunlight, with help from our liver. Science has proven the following benefits from a healthy Vitamin D3 level: cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory, bone health, depression, insulin resistance, repairs immunity (regulates T-cells). Vitamin D3 is not the same as D2, which is a synthetic form added to dairy and other processed food products, not readily available or used by the body. The body has to convert Vitamin D2 to D3, to be used by the body. An annual blood test should be taken to determine actual blood level of Vitamin D.
Magnesium – this very important mineral plays a vital role throughout our bodies. A primary energy source for cells; acts as nature’s own calcium channel blocker (keeps calcium in our cells); helps blood pressure stay down and blood vessels stay pliable. Magnesium builds bones and is anti-inflammatory; and regulates potassium levels. So many are deficient because there are no single foods that contain huge amounts of magnesium. Magnesium also helps promote sleep and prevents soreness after a hard workout, so many reasons to supplement for all ages. FYI...bottled water and softened water has magnesium removed, so it’s important to drink water with minerals.
All magnesium supplements are not created equally, and most create a laxative effect in the body without being absorbed and used. Chelated Magnesium Glycinate is absorbed easily by the body and used immediately. You can test your Magnesium level in an electrolyte panel, but understand that our bodies use more Magnesium that we can possible eat or take in a days time, so it is really unlikely that we will take too much. Those taking blood pressure medications must be aware that Magnesium works even better then their blood pressure medication at relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow. So, if you
are taking a blood pressure medication, you will most likely want to talk with your physician about reducing your medication while taking Magnesium. IMPORTANT NOTE FOR THYROID PATIENTS: If you are taking a thyroid medication, you do not want to take a magnesium or calcium supplement within four (4) hours of medication, or it will interfere with medication’s effectiveness.
Calcium - We all need calcium for bone health. Although it is not advised that men take a calcium supplement, and women and men both, should always try getting calcium through foods other than dairy, first. But when one is diagnosed with osteoporsis or osteopenia, taking a quality supplement is often necessary.
So much good, quality calcium can be obtained from veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, fish, and especially algae and sea vegetables. Calcium is definitely needed for strong bones, but it is Magnesium that gets the credit for holding calcium in the bones. Calcium and Magnesium, need to be taken together, at least a 2:1 ratio, to be effective, Calcium should never be taken alone, and should always be taken as a trio – D3, Magnesium and Calcium.
ALERT: Too many women are taking large doses of calcium carbonate without taking adequate Vitamin D3, Magnesium and K2, so the calcium builds up in blood stream and can create cardiovascular issues.
Only take a quality calcium supplement if you know you need it, and are not getting enough from your diet. And then, only take a proven product in correct ratio to Vitamin D, Magnesium and K2.
Vitamin K2 – Needed for proper absorption with Calcium, Magnesium and D3, and is essential for bone and cardiovascular health. The majority can get what they need from their diets through leafy greens and vegetables.
Vitamin C – (ascorbic acid not citric) – Most do not get enough quality Vitamin C from food, even though it is possible if eating a diet high in veggies and fruits. Vitamin C is critical for a strong and effective immune system, and the fiber from eating produce is critical for a healthy digestion, which ultimately can assist in the repair of a leaky gut.
BComplex and B-12 – Make sure your B-12 is methlycobalamin (other forms, non absorbing, and can be toxic.) B-12 converts food into energy, stabilizes mood and enhances cognitive ability. Everyone 30 or older should include this in your annual blood test, and if below 500, should supplement. Most don’t realize B vitamins all work best, together, not solo high doses of B-12 or separate. Taking a quality, absorbable, Bcomplex is key especially for those fighting high stress, thyroid or autoimmune issues.
Probiotics – Gut flora – good/bad bacteria – healthy digestion – foundation for immune health. It is critical that we take a “viable, live" quality product, and most are not. Make sure you are taking a probiotic that has prebiotics included, to insure viability, and from a quality source. You want to buy one with multiple strains of bacteria, not just one strain of 1 to 5 billion. With trillions of bacteria in the human body, know it takes a quality, reasonable amount to help correct a bad situation.
I, personally, do not believe a healthy human should take a daily probiotic. I do however, believe you should detox the body, plant a garden variety of viable bacteria from proven, effective, probiotic sources, and follow up with a healthy diet. Unless you are traveling out of the country, or eating a really unhealthy, processed diet, a daily probiotic is usually a waste of money, and can cause an unhealthy build up of bacteria in the small intestine. Know what you need, and why. Note: the best sources of probiotics come from fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kombucha.
WHAT SUPPLEMENT YOU WANT TO AVOID
Never will I suggest that a physician doesn't know what he or she is doing regarding diagnosing and medical treatment. There are a lot of incredibly talented individuals who work endless hours caring for people. But they don't know about supplements. And very few know the facts about nutrition, exercise and the healing benefits to the body. Why? Because that's not what they studied. So why am I seeing doctors recommend Centrum to their patients? Centrum is made by Pfizer, one of the companies making 70% of pharmaceuticals that Americans are currently taking. Pfizer published 2015 profits coming in at 48 billion. In case you were wondering, that looks like this: $48,000,000,000.00. I would never go so far as to suggest that they make shoddy supplements to keep consumers needing their medications, but they are making shoddy supplements. Centrum/Pfizer, has massive sampling programs, with the same access to doctors offices as pharmaceutical sales reps. It's no wonder that it is the most recommended supplement by doctors. They get boxes of samples to dish out from Pfizer, but is it the best multi-vitamin available? Definitely not. Is it worth taking? Nope, probably not, unless you're hoping for purely the placebo affect. All supplements are simply not created equally.
Why is Centrum a low grade, ineffective supplement? • Trust in the makers. • Dose dependent--the dosages of most nutrients are negligible and not even close to therapeutic levels. • The forms/sources of nutrients are provided in the cheapest and least absorbable forms. • Supplements in tablet form are often hard to digest, contain binders and fillers. • The "One A Day" marketing ploy - water soluble nutrients (Vitamins C and B) are either used or excreted within about 4 hours. Thus, a one a day multi is completely useless and a sure sign that it is poor quality. Centrum along with Kirkland, Walgreens, Walmart, Sam's, CVS and other store brands, collectively set the bar very low for supplement quality. Understanding a food label is complicated for most, but understanding vitamin labels effectively requires a chemistry degree. But what most can easily detect is the overall quality by the use of a few key ingredients. The key to quality supplements assisting in the prevention and reversal of disease has everything to do with the quality. Any Functional Medicine expert could easily argue the entire "Centrum" pill is non-active, given the low dose of poorly absorbable, cheap nutrient varieties:
• Source of Magnesium - glyconate and citrate more absorbable than oxide--the cheapest, least absorbable form. • Calcium Carbonate - least absorbable forms of calcium on the market, only allowing a tiny amount actually absorbed. And they never warn men from taking a calcium supplement, which it has been proven, they shouldn't. We can get quality calcium from food. • Iron as Ferrous Fumarate - a form of iron that is incredibly constipating. • B Vitamins - Citing 1.1mg to 15mg per vitamin is a concentration so low as to have no impact on energy levels. • Vitamin E as DL-Alpha Tocopherol - D is the natural form and L is the synthetic. The L is used to "water down" the more expensive, more bio-active D form. • Nickelous Sulfate and Tin - No where does it state or discuss a need for humans to supplement with nickel or tin. But the biggest, harmful injustice lies within the "Non-Active" Other Ingredients:
Pre-gelatinized Corn Starch - used as a binder to hold ingredients together. Most likely a genetically modified corn. • Talc - which has already been linked to increased risk of cancer. • Gelatin - Not inheriently a bad product, but most is manufactured by a feed lot of animal waste. • BHT - preservative which has been shown to be toxic to the liver, thyroid, kidney, lungs, and affects blood coagulation. It can also act as a tumor promoter. • Yellow 6 Lake - why would there be food coloring in a health supplement? This is banned from some European countries, and has been known to have side effects of gastric upset, diarrhea, rash, swelling, diarrhea, and migraines. • Red 40 Lake - another food color that contains chemical compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, that research has been linked with cancer. • Hydrogenated Palm Oil - hydrogenating any oil converts the fat into an unnatural structure that has shown to be toxic to the body. It forms free radicals associated with increased risk of cancer and heart disease. • Maltodextrin - several studies have linked maltodextrin consumption to the suppression of "good bacteria" in the digestive system, increasing risk of gastro symptoms and intestinal inflammation. • Crospovidone - an abundance of documented cases of serious allergic reaction. • Sodium Benzonate - dangerous effect on DNA. • Sodium Aluminosilicate - used as a food additive for its anti caking effect.
The list of fillers, binding agents and texturizers goes on. In fact, there are more
"non active" or other ingredients on the ingredient label than actual vitamins and minerals. But guess what--when you log onto Amazon to order Centrum, they do not list the "In-Active Ingredients".
We are all different and have different dietary and supplemental requirements. There are many wonderful supplements on the market to help repair and correct imbalances, and reverse bad health. But it will save you money and time if you don’t randomly supplement. Get tested, then consult a professional that can tell you what you need, why, and lead you in the right direction.