Should You Take Vitamins And Supplements?

should you take supplementsGo to any health food store, supermarket or pharmacy and you’ll find a huge selection of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements.  Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, can be quite expensive, and may or may not offer any health benefits at all.  Are dietary supplements safe?  What are the best supplements?  What popular nutritional supplements such as fish oil are worth considering? Should you take vitamins and supplements at all?  There is no easy answer to the question.  That answer depends on many factors including one’s overall health, age, genetics and the environment.

Factors To Consider With Vitamins And Supplements

I would rather get all the nutrition my body needs through the food I eat than to take supplements.  However, I still take certain vitamins and minerals daily.  The main thing anyone can do to improve health is to stop eating the SAD (standard American diet).  The “western” diet in general is high in bad seed and nut oils, sugars and excess salt.  Most of these high levels of health destroying oils and sugars gets into our bodies by eating processed foods.  These “foods” may be convenient in the moment, but regular consumption of these foods can contribute to obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.  Ideally, one would get all vitamins and minerals through vegetables-I strive to eat a diet where the majority of the food I consume are fruits and vegetables.  Because I eat a  lot of vegetables,  I don’t take a multivitamin.  Someone else my need to take one because their dietary intake is low in vitamins and minerals.  Overall health, based one’s eating habits is the first factor to consider if you want to feel the best you can.  Do you eat like crap?  If you do, you might want to supplement with a multivitamin.  I have high blood pressure that runs in my family.  Because of this, I take additional potassium and CoQ10 because it may help to lower my blood pressure.  One might want to investigate what supplements can help if you are predisposed to a certain disease.  Certain nutrients, can be lacking in most of our diets because the soil our food is grown in is mineral deficient after years of depletion.  As we age, our bodies tend to make less of certain chemicals needed for health.   Here are a few of the supplements I take.  Anyone interested in optimum health, no matter how healthy they eat, might want to consider these as well.

Basic Dietary Supplements For Everyone

Vitamin C

As I stated in my post on vitamin C,  vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, is needed for tissue repair and growth, and assists in wound healing and bone and teeth maintenance.  Large doses of vitamin C (up to 2 grams a day)  can reduce mortality factors such as heart disease and stroke.  It is  water soluble.  If you have too much in your system, your body excretes it.  Because of it’s safety and inexpensiveness, I consider it a good bet towards overall health insurance.

Magnesium

As stated on the National Institutes Of Health fact page on magnesium: “Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is required for energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis. It contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.”  Most people don’t get enough magnesium in their diet because of soil mineral depletion.  Even if you eat foods that contain magnesium, the magnesium levels in those foods are lower than they were in the past.  Because of this fact, my genetic predisposition towards high blood pressure, and it’s major role  so many body processes, I choose to take it daily.

Vitamin D

Most of us are aware of Vitamin D and its relationship with bone health by helping the body absorb calcium.  It has also been linked to treatment and prevention of cancer, autoimmune disease, heart disease and diabetes. Dairy and seafood are the most obvious sources of dietary vitamin D.  Most if not all dairy in the supermarket has been pasteurized for storage.  Unfortunately, that process destroys vitamins and minerals in the milk and they are added back in after the fact.  Some people feel that these added nutrients are poorly absorbed.  A larger issue is the quality of these dairy products.  Factory farmed dairy has far lower levels of these nutrients including vitamin D, than grass-fed pastured animals.  So, much like the case is with magnesium, dietary intake is less than optimum.  I do not supplement with vitamin D as long as I drink raw whole milk from pastured cows and eat butter made from the milk of grass fed cows.

Omega 3/Fish Oil

I’m not sure of where I stand on Omega-3 supplementation honestly.  It is anti-inflammatory, can help with pain management and depression.  However after reading Chris Kresser’s article on fish oil, I am very concerned that most Omega-3 oils on the market may be rancid.  Eating rancid oil is about as healthy as smoking cigarettes to me and currently I am trying to eat more seafood-up to a pound a week of wild salmon, tuna and shellfish to get my omega-3’s.  Limiting omega-6 fats in the diet will help as well since most people are technically not omega-3 deficient, but the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in most diets is skewed.  Most people consume too much omega-6 through processed foods.  The human brain is approximately 8% omega-3 fats  a fact that should motivate everyone to get enough omega-3 fats in their diet.  If I was not eating seafood, I would take moderate amounts of omega 3 supplements just to cover my bases.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 is not widely known to many but very necessary to overall health.  It helps the body utilize calcium by directing it towards the bones instead of the arterial walls.  It may play an important role in preventing certain cancers such as prostate cancer.  Large dose therapy is used to help remineralize teeth.  If you are eating grass fed butter, lacto-fermented foods and pastured eggs, you are probably getting enough in your diet.  If you aren’t eating those things you might want to research the benefits of vitamin K2.

Additional Supplements

N-acetyl Cysteine

N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is derived from the amino acid cysteine.  It is the precursor to glutathione-the body’s master antioxidant.  Glutathione supports the liver and detoxification and protects DNA.  NAC can support the body in cases of influenzaAcetaminophen poisoning, and COPD.  As a former smoker, I take it daily as insurance and up my intake when I am coming down with a cold or flu.

Coenzyme Q10

Another antioxidant produced by the body, CoQ10 is responsible for providing energy to cells in the body and production declines with age.  If you know anyone taking a statin to lower cholesterol they need to supplement with CoQ10 as statins deplete the body’s levels.

Betaine HCL

As the body ages, stomach acid production declines.  Betaine is used to help existing stomach acid digest food properly to extract all those vitamins and minerals from those organic veggies you’ve been eating.  Taking it before a meal not cause you problems with excess night time stomach acid.

NAD

This is a precursor to nicotinamide mononucleotide which was discovered in 2013 to help reverse mitochondria degradation.  Supplementation may help the aging of all cells in the body…..pretty huge if it’s true…check it out here.  My next supplement experiment.

Optimum health is built on the building blocks of optimum nutrition.  Consider trying some of these supplements if there are holes in your diet that might benefit from supplementation.

Should You Supplement With Vitamin C?

vitamin c supplement benefits

Of all the vitamins and supplements we take, vitamin C tends to be the one we think of first, the original vitamin. OG Vitamin C… Should you take vitamin C daily?  In short, if you’re eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily, probably not.  However, vitamin C supplementation may be a good idea for added insurance against some issues and large dose supplementation may be something to try as well in certain instances.

Vitamin C Supplement Benefits

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant.  Antioxidants protect against the effects of free radicals.  Free radicals in the body can come from everywhere.  They are even created during normal metabolism.  Free radicals are atoms that have an odd number of electrons in the outer ring of the atom.  Remembering vaguely from high school chemistry class, atoms want to be balanced in terms of their overall charge.  Protons have a positive charge, electrons have a negative charge.  A free radical has an odd number of electrons making up this molecule.  Because it’s not a one proton for one electron relationship, the molecule is basically unbalanced.  If there are more protons than electrons, the atom now has a positive charge and seeks to balance out that charge and make it neutral, stable.  Because opposites attract, this positively charged atom is going to try to attract an electron from other molecules and make them unstable!  It’s this reaction of creating unstable molecules that cause damage to our DNA.  Some scientists suspect that over time the accumulation of free radicals is responsible for the aging process and the root cause of disease.  Antioxidants are pretty much electron “sinks” that minimize the attraction of that unbalanced charge.  And vitamin C is a great one.  As stated on the Linus Pauling Institute’s web page:

“Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble, non-enzymatic antioxidant in plasma and tissues. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are generated during normal metabolism, by active immune cells, and through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g., certain chemotherapy drugs and cigarette smoke). Vitamin C also participates in redox recycling of other important antioxidants; for example, vitamin C is known to regenerate vitamin E from its oxidized form.”

Besides being a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C:

  • Helps the body absorb iron from non heme (plant) sources.
  • Is needed for tissue growth and repair-vitamin C is essential in the manufacturing of collagen a protein that helps make up blood vessels, ligaments, cartilage, skin and tendons.
  • Helps in wound healing and repair and maintaining your bones and teeth.

Can you take too much vitamin C?  Probably not.  Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, your body can not store it.  Vitamin C has been shown to be non-toxic in large doses.  The downside of large Vitamin C intake (over 2 grams a day) is stomach and intestinal discomfort and  diarrhea caused from the body trying to remove excess unused vitamin C.  There is evidence that large dose vitamin C supplementation can be beneficial however.  The current idea is that vitamin C is well tolerated up to 2 grams daily before “disaster pants” sets in.  Large dose vitamin C:

Because vitamin C is water soluble, the body will get rid of what it does not need. Large dose vitamin C might be just what your body needs when you feel that cold coming on.  You might consider taking it because of the protection against heart disease.  High dose vitamin C has been shown to kill cancer cells in mice recently.  Smoke and other pollutants are free radicals-if you smoke you might want to take extra vitamin C to combat the oxidative damage caused by smoking.  Because of its safety, you might want to take vitamin C as insurance for good health.  It seems like it can’t hurt. Vitamin C is available in lots of forms pretty much anywhere from your local grocery store to online retailers like Amazon.com.  What’s cool is that the body doesn’t absorb one form more effectively over another(Linus Pauling Institute).  This means that you don’t have to spend a ton of money for one of the best bets on your overall health.