Are Vitamin Supplements Necessary?

So you feel pretty good about having taken vitamins for years. Think about how healthy you are because of all those vitamin pills you swallowed. But wait. You hear a news report that says vitamin pills are a waste of money. Or someone says that most people already get enough vitamins in their diet. Worse yet, taking too much of certain kinds of vitamins might harm you!

The jury is still out on this. It’s complicated. And to confuse us more, many reports and studies are either done improperly or intentionally manipulated to show desired results. Supplements are a huge business. Manufacturers and distributors take in billions of dollars a year.

What we want is the best advice. If we need them, what dietary supplements do we really need? And which ones work?

Do we need dietary supplements?
Looking deeper into this we find the most common answers somewhere in the middle. There are those who spout out quick answers like “You don’t need vitamin pills, you get enough vitamins from food”. Or “Vitamins are a waste of money”. All of those fast answers are meaningless to me. I want to see some research to back up those answers. I never hear someone say “you don’t need vitamin pills because according to a study done in… and continue to cite specifics about the study”.

You’ll often hear medical doctors say that you don’t need vitamin supplements. My own doctor recommends vitamin supplements however. He says we probably don’t get everything we need from our diet. This seems to be a reasonable recommendation.

So here are some specifics for you. I’ve done some research myself. And I’ve found some sources that I think are somewhat dependable.

From the Mayo Clinic. Written by the Mayo Clinic Staff.
I’m not sure exactly who the Mayo Clinic Staff is, but here it is…
The article points out that supplements are not intended as a replacement for food. Rather they are intended, as the name directly describes, as a supplement. Something to be added to your existing diet. Foods are complex and they offer other benefits besides the vitamins or whatever other supplements you are taking. They don’t recommend supplements to healthy people under 50. They do recommend supplements or food with iron and folic acid for pregnant women. They recommend vitamin B12 in the form of supplements or food to adults over 50 years of age. They suggest supplements for people who don’t eat well, are vegetarian, have a medical condition that affects absorption of nutrients, or have had surgery that interferes with nutrient absorption. They do not recommend mega doses of supplements.

From the National Institute of Health
This is a long technical article. The main conclusion of this article is that most of us don’t need multivitamin and mineral supplements. And that they are not beneficial in reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as ischemic heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Healthy individuals do not need supplements they say.

From WebMD – Do Older Adults Need Vitamins, Supplements?
This article says that about half of older adults take vitamins and other supplements. But most of those can improve their diet instead to get what they need. Some research suggests that older people may need more vitamins B6, B12, and Folate. The article also suggests that vitamin D is sometimes needed as a supplement for older adults. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says older adults should pay special attention to their intake of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, potassium, and fiber.

Supplements for a Healthy Heart. Do Supplements Really Help Your Heart?
This is an article by a dietitian. It discusses many of the common supplements that people use for heart health including baby aspirin, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, fish oil supplements, Coenzyme Q-10, Niacin, Green Tea Extract, Plant Sterols and Stanols, Red Yeast Rice, and a few more. She is not strongly recommending any of these as supplements but seems to also be suggesting that many of them have been shown to be beneficial. Some good information but not strong recommendations in this article.

And of course there are thousands more articles and studies on supplements. A lot of conflicting information and recommendations which leave us uncertain of what’s best.

Should I take vitamin supplements?
I’m sure that some of what’s in my vitamin pills do no good. But there just might be some benefit. Maybe my diet lacks some of the vitamins I get in the pills I take. So I’ll keep taking a multivitamin pill every day. But I better make sure they are good quality, otherwise it’s a total waste of money.

Should I take vitamins and other supplements to prevent heart disease?

I’ve read studies and recommendations that go both ways. However, some studies such as the Lyon Diet Heart Study and the Seven Countries Study show that there are foods, or things in food, that seem to lower heart disease risk. Lifestyle and exercise are part of the whole picture as well. The Mediterranean diet became popular as a result of the Seven Countries Study. Elements of the Mediterranean diet are still commonly recommended in the prevention of heart disease. I think most would agree that you can make a difference by eating right and adding supplements to make it easier to get what’s needed. My answer to this question is yes. Yes I should take vitamin supplements.

Dietary supplements often recommended for Heart Health

– Fish Oil Supplements with DHA and EPA

– Vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, B9, B12

– Make sure your vitamin E is not dl-alpha-tocopherol-acetate. Use high-gamma vitamin E instead.

– Selenium

– Enzyme CoQ-10

How to know if vitamin pills are good quality

Vitamin pills in liquid or tablet form tend to lose their potency and are difficult for your body to absorb. Capsule form is the best way to preserve the minerals and receive maximum absorption. Avoid synthetic vitamins. Use natural forms instead.

Dietary supplements and Vitamins. Brands that work.

If you take supplements that don’t work because they are poor quality, that’s obviously a waste of money. I’ve found a website that claims to have tested many brands. They have rated them all and list them on their website. The brand of multivitamin I have been taking, Centrum, is very popular and advertised a lot on TV. But it’s rating is not all that great. The website also has a price comparison section. The website is called the Multivitaminguide. Just do an internet search and you’ll find it.

What’s your next step?

If you’re interested in taking supplements and want to make sure you do it right, then check some of the resources mentioned above. If you want to read more about preventing heart disease there’s more on my website. And of course there are thousands of articles and studies available on the Internet.

A Case For Whole Food Supplements

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is lacking in many vital nutritional components. Being largely composed of prepackaged, convenience foods with few naturally grown food products; this diet has contributed to an epidemic of not only obesity but also extreme nutritional deficiency. While many commercially available vitamin and mineral supplements exist, they are manufactured in an artificial way that reduces bioavailability and promotes chemical contamination. As Americans are not likely to return to eating home grown food directly from their garden, the solution to the nutritional deficiency of America can be found in Whole Food Supplements which are vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient rich products made from actual food concentrates.

The Problem with the Standard American Diet

In the first part of the 1900’s most Americans ate a healthy, whole food diet because they had no choice. All food was grown either by the family or obtained from immediately local sources. America in the 1900’s was a largely agrarian society with most people living in rural areas and able to grow their own food. During the last century, a massive migration to urban areas has occurred. This has meant that even if one has the desire, most people no longer have the ability to produce self grown food. Either because there is no land or because many do not know how, very few people have a garden and even fewer produce protein in the form of dairy products and animal husbandry.

In spite of this developing migration, during World War II, families were encouraged to have a “victory garden”. This was not to ensure that Americans had a great diet but actually to ensure that American families could feed themselves at all, while allowing most of commercial food production to be sent to the troops overseas. That was the last period in history that America got most of their nutrition from locally grown food.

Beginning around the 1950’s, Americans did begin to recognize the value of vitamins and minerals within their diet. This was discovered because more and more pre-prepared, highly processed food products became available and nutritional deficiencies began to emerge.

After the end of World War II, many families became two-income families. In addition, many more single parents are now raising children by themselves. This means that in most homes, all of the adults present in any one household are likely employed outside of the home full-time leaving little time for food preparation alone much less any time for food production. America has become a convenience food nation consuming much of the diet from unnatural food sources.

Prepackaged and easy to prepare food products are just that, food “products”. Though they may contain carbohydrates, proteins, fats and some “essential” nutrients, they are not real food. The entire food supply chain is rife with contamination and chemical processing and many Americans are unaware of how little nutritional value the food that they consume every day contains. So much publicity and education has focused on the so called food pyramid. The governmental and educational agencies that have devised the perfect American diet have never truly addressed the lack of nutrients, other than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of basic vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Calcium.

While these RDA levels of vitamin and mineral consumption may be an absolute bottom line essential to avoid obvious diseases of deficiency such as scurvy or rickets, they are hardly adequate and do not reflect but a small portion of the nutrients contained in whole food, necessary for promotion of health and prevention of disease.

A Crisis in America: Obesity and Other Diseases in the Face of Malnutrition

The main focus of the American diet in recent years has become reducing fat and increasing carbohydrates in the diet. This stream of thought was intended to reduce the growing epidemic of obesity but over the past 20 years, obesity has risen into numbers that appear to be a crisis for Americans. In fact, over the past 20 years the number of adult Americans who are obese has risen by 60% to an unprecedented level of almost 35% of American adults being considered obese. A much worse situation is that a similar number of approximately 32% of American children qualify as overweight or obese. For the first time in American history, the life expectancy of these children may be lower than that of their parents or grandparents.

This has led to an epidemic of heart disease, diabetes and other weight related problems occurring in record numbers not only in adults but seen in children as young as 18 months of age. Additional diseases that may be related to a lack of appropriate nutrients other than simple vitamins in American diets may include a wide variety of conditions ranging from immune disorders implicated in conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Cancer to psychiatric and neurological conditions such as ADHD, Autism and Depression.

Most people believe that obesity occurs simply because people eat too much. While that is true in part, obesity also results from continuously consuming the wrong types of food. In the 1900s when Americans were consuming a largely natural, whole food diet directly from farm to table, obesity was an extremely rare occurrence.

As our diet has changed from an agrarian society’s nutrient rich food supply to the urbanized highly processed, artificial foods, our total food consumption has risen. This is in part because, though the body gets more calories from more food, it is still starved of nutrition causing one to eat even more. In addition, in our sedentary lifestyle our bodies actually need less food than when we lived and worked each day on the farm, yet we still eat more because of lack of proper nutrients, abundance of easily obtained processed food and other psychological conditions such as stress eating. In the end, America has become a nation of people who are obese but still malnourished and disease ridden.

An Attempt to Fix the Problem

The ideal diet truly would be that of returning to whole food “farm to table” eating where families either grow their own food and prepare it within minutes of harvesting or at a minimum obtain locally grown food from the market and prepare it within a day or so of harvesting. In today’s society this is no longer possible. Even when fresh vegetables and fruits are consumed as a large portion of the diet, our nation’s food supply is contaminated by the use of pesticides, herbicides and hormones and much of the nutrient value is lost by transportation of the food crop from thousands of miles away. Food is harvested before it is truly ripe, irradiated, stored cold and transported across states, nations and even oceans before it arrives in our grocery stores as tasteless, substandard, nutrient poor produce.

Many people are attempting to eat only organic, locally grown produce for this reason. While this may be an improvement over the nutritional value of the standard American diet, it is nearly always much more expensive and therefore unaffordable for many and unavailable for others as most markets do not focus on obtaining such products. So this effort, while valiant is still not enough.

The good news about the American nutritional situation is that it is quite easy to fix. Given appropriate nutrition, the human body has an amazing ability to heal itself. Many diseases and conditions caused by overconsumption and malnourishment can be easily corrected by supplementation with whole food nutritional products.

As Americans cannot rely on the food supply to provide adequate nutrition and also cannot count on the source, quality and purity of most commercially available nutritional supplements, the only answer appears to lie in whole food supplementation.

What is a Whole Food Supplement?

Whole food supplements are defined as nutritional supplements derived entirely from food. This is a much more natural and beneficial method of obtaining nutrition from food and herbal supplements alike.

Unfortunately, most commercially available nutritional supplements including vitamins, minerals and herbal products are made completely of single ingredient extracts or worse, artificially synthesized in a lab using chemical processes. While synthesized supplements may in fact provide basic vitamins and minerals known to be vital, artificially prepared products are missing many of the alkaloids, antioxidants and phytochemicals that are thought to play a major role in complete nutrition and disease prevention.

The same is true for herbal supplements and treatments as most commercially available herbal products do provide an extract or synthesized form of the primarily active chemical within the herb, they are still missing many of the synergistic ingredients thought to provide additional benefits of herbal and nutraceutical treatment.

Simply Taking Vitamins isn’t Enough

Vitamins and Minerals are absolutely necessary for life but the RDA is generally both inadequate in its estimate and unattainable through the average American diet.

While many commercially available nutritional supplements are available at every corner, through necessity, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does little to regulate the manufacturing of food supplements such as vitamins, minerals and herbal products. The FDA cannot apparently manage even its’ main tasks of regulation of the pharmaceutical industry and assurance of the safety of the American food supply.

In the last several years, many counterfeit pharmaceutical products have been discovered such as flu medication being sold online, manufactured outside of the United States was found to be gelatin capsules filled with sheetrock particles. In addition Americans have seen case after case of E. Coli and Salmonella contamination of both American and foreign farm crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions and peppers enter our grocery stores. Some of these products were even the so called “organic” products, purported to be safer than traditional crops.

Why a Whole Food Supplement

As there is inadequate supervision of the pharmaceutical and food production industries, there is even less of the nutritional supplement market. The average vitamin or nutritional supplement is manufactured using chemical synthesis and heat processing which destroys the nutritional value of the product within. In addition, many commercially available products are manufactured with fillers, additives, preservatives and other dubious chemicals. Whole food supplements are not.

Within the last several years, significant shortcomings have come to light in terms of foreign made food and health products. Many products have proven to be contaminated with not only the known chemicals that are present in the American food supply but also with much more dangerous unknown chemicals that should never enter the manufacturing process. The only way to ensure that this does not happen is to purchase high quality products from a company with a well established reputation for maintaining high standards of manufacturing and purity. As whole food supplements are natural products, it would be optimal if the manufacturer employed practices of sustainability and green policy.

The ideal food supplement manufacturer recognizes that vitamins do not exist in isolation. The nutritional value of whole food is due to the interweaving of the entire spectrum of nutrients with vitamins and minerals acting in a synergistic fashion with hundreds of other plant alkaloids, phytochemicals and enzymes. The cofactors and bioflavonoids such as terpenes and isoflavones present in whole foods and whole food supplements are integral in the process to restore biochemical balance to the body.

This is quite easy to identify when examining the label of a nutritional supplement, vitamin or herbal product. Though the FDA doesn’t do an adequate job of monitoring the food supply or pharmaceutical industry, they have established standards of labeling which include appropriate identification of all ingredients contained in a supplement. Close examination of most regular supplements when compared to whole food supplements will show that most products contain synthetic vitamins, chemicals and filler products while whole food supplements contain natural vitamins and minerals obtained from concentrated food sources such as fruits and vegetables.

Supplements manufactured from whole food sources will contain not only the natural form of vitamins and minerals but also all of the important phytochemicals and phytonutrients important to restoration of nutritional health and prevention of disease derived from whole food concentrates.

Choosing a Quality Supplement

Whole food supplements are nutritional products which have been manufactured directly from food. Food grown in natural conditions is concentrated using carefully designed and conducted cold processing techniques. These methods allow the concentration of the entire spectrum of nutritional value without removing the phytochemicals, alkaloids and other valuable natural substances that ensure adequate nutritional support and help to prevent disease.

When choosing a whole food supplement one should ensure that the product is from a manufacturing company known to have a long standing reputation for quality and experience in whole food processing. The products should be constituted entirely of whole food products which have been refined using cold processing without the nutrient reducing effects of extreme heat, pasteurization and irradiation. They should also be free of artificial filler products and preservative chemicals. The manufacturer should have a process of testing for purity and guarantee of quality and ideally should offer a money back guarantee if one is not satisfied with the product. For the American consumer, optimally an American product will be purchased an in an effort to aid the environment, a company with “green” policies should be chosen to promote sustainability of the food supply.

Specific Nutrient Needs

Vitamin A

Vitamin A and the carotenoids are highly present in many vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables along with fish and animal livers and are essential for:

o proper functioning of the eye and skin including the gastrointestinal tract
o acts as an antioxidant, protecting against cancer and diseases of aging
o important in support of the immune system for protection against viruses and infections of the organ linings of bladder, kidneys, lungs and mucous membranes
o essential for protein utilization

Vitamin A deficiency causes dry hair, skin, eye disorders, fatigue, reproductive difficulties, frequent colds and infections, and skin disorders.

Traditional vitamin supplements will typically contain synthetic Vitamin A Palmitate and/or beta carotene isolate. Whole Food Supplements will contain Vitamin A1, Vitamin A2, retinal, retinoic acid and a number of more the 500 carotenes all of which are precursors to Vitamin A along with essential fatty acid, natural sugars, minerals and other phytonutrients found only in whole food.

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B is actually a number of similarly related compounds found in yellow and green fruits and vegetables particularly leafy green and cruciferous vegetables along with nuts, grains, eggs, dairy products and meats and are known to be essential for:

o maintenance of skin, eyes, hair, liver and mouth
o healthy gastrointestinal tract and brain functioning
o coenzymes involved in energy production
o proper functioning of nervous system particularly in the elderly

Specific Vitamin B Deficiencies:

B-1 Thiamine deficiency – Beriberi, canker sores, mental disorders such as dementia, depression and dizziness, fatigue, indigestion, diarrhea, numbness and muscle atropy

B-2 Riboflavin deficiency -mouth sores, cataracts, dermatitis, hair loss, neurological symptoms on skin, light sensitivity, seizures

B-3 Niacin deficiency – pellagra, bad breath, skin and mouth disorders, memory impairment, confusion, depression, muscle weakness

B-5 Pantothenic Acid deficiency – abdominal pains, skin disorders, hair loss, muscle spasms and poor coordination, immune impairment, low blood pressure

B-6 Pyridoxine deficiency – eye, skin and mouth inflammation, mucous membrane disorders, lack of wound healing

B-12 Cyanocobalamin deficiency – pernicious anemia, unsteady gate, dizziness, drowsiness, depression, hallucination headaches, memory loss, tinnitus, spinal cord degeneration

Folic Acid deficiency – certain types of anemia, fatigue, mental disorders, insomnia, diarrhea, spina bifida in developing infant

Traditional Vitamin B supplements will generally contain only the synthetic form of one or more of the B vitamin group, while whole food supplements will contain all of the Vitamin B family along with the added benefits of phytonutrients such as inositols, PABA, biotin and choline derived from concentration of whole foods.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) is found in citrus fruits, berries and green vegetables and is essential for:

o tissue growth and repair
o adrenal gland function
o healthy gums
o production of anti stress hormones and interferon
o absorption of iron in the gastrointestinal system
o metabolism of amino acids and vitamins
o activity as an antioxidant and support of the immune system

Vitamin C deficiency causes Scurvy, poor wound healing, gum disease, edema, weakness, frequent infections, fatigue, and joint pains.

Traditional Vitamin C supplements will have only Ascorbic Acid or Ascorbate, while Whole Food Supplement vitamin C will contain phytonutrients such as rutin, bioflavonoids, tyrosinase, ascorbinogen, vitamin C factors such as J, K and P along with mineral co-factors necessary for vitamin C activity all derived appropriately from whole food.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is present largely in dairy food products but also in fish and fish oils, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, egg yolks and sweet potatoes and is necessary for:

o bone and teeth growth and development in children
o muscle performance including skeletal and cardiac muscle
o prevention of bone and tooth loss in elderly
o thyroid and immune system functioning
o normal blood clotting

Vitamin D deficiency includes rickets, osteomalacea, loss of appetite, burning of mouth and throat, diarrhea, insomnia, and visual difficulties.

Most commercial Vitamin D products including prescription formulas will contain only Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) which is less absorbable and more difficult to use but has a longer shelf life than it’s cousin Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) while whole food supplements will contain significant amounts of Vitamin D3 along with many other beneficial phytonutrients in the form of whole food concentrates.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in cold pressed vegetable oils, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and grains and is essential for:

o antioxidant activity important for the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease
o circulation and tissue repair
o blood clotting and healing
o skin and hair health

Vitamin E deficiency may result in damage to red blood cells, nerve destruction, infertility, menstrual problems, and neuromuscular disorders.

Traditional vitamin E supplements will generally include only one of the 8 active components of the vitamin E family, alpha-tocopherol. Whole food supplements will contain not only alpha-tocopherol but also the 7 other alpha, beta, gamma and delta forms of both tocopherol and tocotrienol derived from concentrated food.

Calcium

Calcium is vital for the formation of bones and teeth and the maintenance of gums. It is essential for the functioning of all muscular tissue, particularly the heart and participates in cellular functioning in virtually every area of the body. Calcium is highly present in dairy products, meaty and oily fish and green leafy vegetables.

Calcium deficiency can lead to brittle bones, teeth and nails, skin disorders, cardiac disorders such as high blood pressure and heart palpitations, cognitive impairment, hyperactivity and seizure disorders.

Calcium contained in most traditional supplements will contain only calcium carbonate or calcium citrate with the possible addition of Vitamin D or may contain D1-calcium-phosphate which is completely insoluble and cannot be absorbed. Whole Food Supplement calcium products will contain additional nutrients such as amino acids and vitamin C which are necessary for calcium absorption and utilization.

Iron

Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin which is vital to the supply of oxygen throughout the body. Iron is also important for production of many important enzymes within the body. It can be found in meats, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables, nuts and grains in large amounts as well as a number of herbs such as alfalfa and milk thistle.

Deficiency of Iron includes symptoms of anemia, weakness and fatigue, hair loss, mouth inflammation, fingernail malformation and mental impairment.

Most commercially available iron supplements will contain iron sulfate or iron gluconate as a singular product or in combination with other vitamins and minerals. Iron is best absorbed in the presence of vitamin C and when consumed as a constituent of a food source. Whole food supplement iron will result in better absorption and less stomach upset as it is derived from whole food.

Magnesium

Magnesium is vital as an enzyme catalyst especially with regard to energy production. It also aids in cellular calcium and potassium uptake which makes it essential for the transmission of muscle and nerve impulses. It can be readily found in many foods especially animal products such as dairy, meat and seafood but also in many fruits and vegetables such as apples, apricots, bananas, whole grains and soy products.

Deficiency of magnesium will cause muscular irritability, mental disorders, chronic fatigue, chronic pain syndromes, depression and pulmonary disorders along with being a factor in hypertension and sudden cardiac death.

Traditionally prepared magnesium supplements will contain only magnesium usually in the form of magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate while whole food supplements will contain other minerals such as calcium and potassium along with vitamin c and other nutrients from whole food concentrates necessary for the proper absorption and utilization of magnesium.

Zinc

Zinc is important in the growth and function of reproductive organs and may help regulate oil gland activity and prevent acne. It is essential for protein and collagen synthesis and vital to the functioning of a healthy immune system and has been shown to have potent antiviral activity. It plays a major role in wound healing and the sensation of taste and smell. It is also a constituent of many physiological chemicals such as insulin and various enzymes. Zinc is highly present in eggs, fish, beans, meats, mushrooms and many seed such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Deficiency of zinc may result in a loss of taste and smell and may cause the fingernails to become weak and thin. Other signs may include delayed sexual maturation, growth impairment, disorders of sexual organs of both males and females, fatigue, hair loss, slow wound healing and recurrent infections.

Many commercially available supplements will contain either zinc gluconate as a singular product or in combination with other minerals without regard as to the appropriate ratios for optimal absorption and utilization within the body. As whole food supplements are derived from actual food, the appropriate ratios necessary for maximum benefit are already present established by nature.

Unique Benefits of Whole Food Supplements

According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 70% of Americans do not consume enough whole food products to provide even the RDA of vitamins. While vitamins are necessary for life, ordinary vitamin supplements will not entirely fill the gap. Unlike most commercial dietary supplements which are stand alone chemicals, whole food supplements contain any number of several thousand known and unknown phytonutrients such as:

o Carotenoids
o Polyphenols (Flavonoids)
o Phenols
o Indoles
o Lignans (Phytoestrogens)
o Phytates (Inositols)
o Saponins
o Sulfides and Thiols
o Terpenes

Research has proven these nutrients to be protective against many diseases. Some types of phytonutrients are known to provide such benefits as enhanced immunity, cancer prevention, detoxification and DNA repair.

Carotenoids

The phytonutrient category of carotenoids has been shown to protect against certain types of cancer, optical failure from diseases such as macular degeneration and assist in the prevention of cardiac disease. Carotenoids are partially responsible for the vibrant colors of many fruits and vegetables.

Carotenoids can help prevent vitamin A deficiency by acting as precursors to Vitamin A which assists the body in manufacturing Vitamin A. In addition several carotenoids are known to be anti-oxidants and may protect against diseases of aging and exposure to environmental toxins. Carotenoids may also be a factor in the prevention and treatment of other diseases such as:

o Cancer – including cervical, throat, lung, prostate and skin cancers
o Heart disease – including angina pectoris and congestive heart failure
o Infections – including AIDS, Chlamydia, Candidiasis and pneumonia
o Immune system mediated disorders – including rheumatoid arthritis, and photosensitivity
o Other conditions – such as asthma and osteoarthritis

A balanced formula of carotenoids such as found in whole foods and whole food supplements will be better absorbed than individual supplements as too much of any one carotenoids may inhibit the absorption of others. This is one of the many reasons why whole food supplements are more beneficial than simple vitamin supplementation.

Carotenoids known to be present and beneficial can be found in the following fruits or vegetables:

o alpha carotene – carrots
o beta carotene – green cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, yellow/orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots
o beta cryptoxanthin – orange fruits such as mangos, peaches and apricots
o lutein – leafy green vegetables such as turnip greens, collard greens and spinach
o lycopene – red fruits such as watermelon, guava, tomatoes and red grapefruit
o zeaxanthin – green vegetables such as green beans and broccoli, yellow food such as eggs mangos and citrus fruits

Polyphenols

Polyphenols (Flavonoids) are known to be active antioxidants and are thought to be important in preventing diseases caused by oxidative stress such as some cancers and some forms of cardiac disease and some inflammatory processes which cause diseases such as arthritis and other diseases of aging. Some examples of polyphenols found in food products include:

o anthocyanins – red foods such as berries, red cabbage, red grapes
o flavones – celery and parsley
o ellagic acid – berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
o catechins – tea, wine and chocolate along with other tart foods such as berries and apples
o flavanones – found in citrus fruits
o coumarins – found in grains and grasses such as wheat grass

Phenols

Phenols encompass a number of anti oxidant nutrients such as Resveratrol and are known to be powerful antioxidants. Phenols have proven to be effective in the prevention of age related disorders and many diseases caused in part by oxidative stress such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Phenols are present in purple fruits such as grapes and blueberries along with wine and tea.

Indoles

Indoles are known to aid in hormone production and maintenance of balance. Indoles are also thought to provide cellular protection against cancers such as colon cancer and endometrial cancer along with others. They are largely present in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbages.

Lignans

Lignans (Phytoestrogens) have weak estrogen like activity which is important in the prevention and possible treatment of hormone mediated cancers such as breast, testicular and prostate cancer. They also may block inflammatory processes which may aid in the treatment of diseases such as arthritis and platelet aggregation leading to stroke. Lignans highly present in flax seed and soy products but are also found in other grains such as wheat, barley and oats along with beans and vegetables such as garlic and broccoli.

Inositols

Phytates (Inositols) may help lower blood cholesterol and aid in prevention of mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Inositols and Phytates are present in large amounts in grains, nuts and melon family members such as cantaloupe, squash and cucumbers.

Saponins

Saponins are known to lower cholesterol and may act as an immune booster protecting the body against infections from viruses, bacteria and fungi. They may also provide some protection against heart disease and have proven to be effective in the treatment of cancer. Several anti cancer drugs are based on the saponin molecular structure. Saponins can be found in foods such as asparagus, red onions, alfalfa sprouts, and soybeans.

Thiols

Sulfides and Thiols are vital to the functioning of the cardiovascular system including the smooth muscles of the arteries and arterioles and the linings of both veins and arteries. Thiols have proven instrumental in the development of plaques contributing to atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, myocardial infarction and stroke. Sulfides and thiols are highly present in members of the odiferous Lilly family such as garlic, onion, chives and leeks

Terpenes

Terpenes are thought to protect against cancer and free radical damage which may contribute to diseases of aging such as stroke and alzheimers disease. Terpenes are highly present in foods such as green foods, grain and soy products and also in many herbs such as Gingko biloba.

These phytonutrients are just a few examples of natural molecules known to aid in promotion of health and make the case for the use of Whole Food Supplements. There are thousands more, yet to be identified that are present and beneficial and cannot be synthesized in a lab. Supplementation with isolated vitamins and minerals alone will not solve a nutritional deficiency.

As Americans are unlikely to return to the farm, consumption of a whole food supplement appears to be the only way to actually bridge the nutritional canyon that the American diet has created due to a lifestyle of convenient packaged food that is easy to prepare but sorely deficient in nutritional quality.

Anthony Antolics RN, BSN [http://www.thenutritionnurse.com]

* Bachelor of Science Nursing…Excelsior College, Magna Cum Laude

* Bachelor of Arts Psychology Mental Health…Southern Connecticut State University, Summa Cum Laude

* Sigma Theta Tau, The National Honor Society of Nursing

* Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology

* Zeta Delta Epsilon, Honors Service Society by invitation, Southern Connecticut State University

* Tau Kappa, Excelsior College Nursing Honors Society

At 62 years, with a lifelong interest in nutrition and a consistent practitioner of nutritional supplementation, I suffered a heart attack. After extensive research I realized that my program of supplementation had actually caused further nutritional deficiencies. Many of the supplements I had been taking were synthetic compounds and bio-identical hormones. This lead to comprehensive research in whole food supplementation, where the vitamins, minerals and herbals came from and the methods used to process them.

It became quite evident that the best supplements must be derived from whole foods, organically grown herbals and botanicals and all must be processed using little or no heat to preserve the efficacy of all the various enzymes, flavenoids and phytonutrients only present in raw whole foods. Processed this way, whole food supplements are recognized by the body as nutrition and readily metabolized and utilized to improve health and function, strengthen the immune system and increase one’s sense of well-being.

What Are Workout Supplements and How To Choose Them?

Body building supplements are specially formulated to enhance body fitness and aid the process of body building. Workout sessions can be very demanding and gaining that extra energy needed to push to your limits is required to achieve target goals in workout results. The increased level of workout makes your body demand more vitamins and minerals and as a result your body can suffer from deficiency which can in turn hamper muscle growth.

Work supplements should be chosen carefully as they shape and tone your body by influencing your workout results. So, if your objective is to just build muscle, you need to look into workout supplements, such as prohormones, testosterone boosters, whey protein and creatine. However, muscle building workouts don’t just look into building muscles, they also stress on losing fat. Supplements that can help you burn fat are appetite supplements, carb blockers, fat-burners and stimulant-free products.

BestBodyBuildingSupplements

The range of products available in the form of body building supplements is quite extensive. However, the main categories that body builder check out are protein supplements, glutamine supplements and creatine supplements.

Protein Supplements

Protein supplements are used by body builder because of their ability to enhance muscle. Body builders take protein supplements primarily because they are so effective in improving sports performance. Workouts are bound to induce stress because of the need to achieve desired results. Intake of protein supplements helps to bring down the stress factors. Cortisol is a hormone that gets aggravated by stress, which is a negative factor because it destroys muscles, which workouts are actually aiming to enhance. Protein supplements reduce cortisol, thus aiding muscle building by bringing down muscle destruction.

When choosing protein food sources, the most important aspect to check out is the Biological Value (BV). Proteins that have the highest BV enable the body to absorb more nitrogen and this in turn helps in better building of lean muscles. Whey protein is a much preferred protein source because it has the highest BV (104) and only Egg Protein (BV 100) can come close to it.

Though there are many natural foods that are a good source of high protein, body builders prefer protein powders because they are a good source of gaining high quality protein without any fat intake. The powder is mixed with milk and drunk at the end of the workout session. Preparing a complete protein meal is time consuming so it offers a quicker solution.

Natural protein food sources such as salmon or beef can be expensive, while protein supplements cost lesser. They do not require any refrigeration and are portable. Most of them are available in the form of isolates, concentrates, blends, meal replacements, and weight gainers. Important protein supplements available in the market are Gaspari MyoFusion, VPX Syngex Protein, MGN Pure Whey Protein Isolate, LG Sciences Lipotropic Protein, and VPX Zero Carb Protein. However, intake of protein supplements must be carefully regulated so that desired results in muscle enhancement are achieved quickly. It is necessary to take up a protein supplement or food source at every meal. The quality of protein supplement should be restricted to 0.8 to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.

Glutamine Supplements

Glutamine is one of the most essential supplements for body’s fitness because it protects the muscle from harmful effects of the cortisol hormone. It has been proven to help build muscles and also build the strength of the body’s immune system against various illnesses. It is, therefore, important to note that Glutamine is available from various food sources such as protein, milk and also meat, but when performing workouts, such food sources alone cannot compensate for the level of Glutamine ( found in blood and skeletal muscles) needed in the body after. Hence it is necessary to take up supplements to replenish glutamine levels that have got depleted during the process of workout. It will prevent muscle deterioration which can occur because when tissues that are in need of glutamine, take glutamine that is stored in muscle cells.

Top five Glutamine supplements available in the market include BSN CellMass, Higher Power L-Glutamine, Xyience NOX-CG3, CytoSport Muscle Milk RTD and Prolab N-Large II. Glutamine supplements ensure faster recovery after workouts and aid in muscle building because of its increased ability to synthesize protein and absorb nitrogen. Athletes and body builders take Glutamine supplements because they help to prevent muscle breakdown and enable production of new muscle tissue by synthesizing protein. They boost the body’s growth hormones and strengthen the immunity system.

Creatine Supplements

Creatine occurs naturally in animal foods such as beef, tuna and salmon, but these alone cannot suffice the demand, when you want to gain lean muscle mass. Creatine supplements help to enhance body performance in such a way that you can go in for a higher intensity workout, lift heavier weights and also train that much more hard to gain results.

Creatine increases amino acid intake in protein and increased intake shows good results in muscle size. It is well know amongst professional athletes that creatine blends can considerably increase athletic performance and also physical strength. Taking creatine supplements can enable you to gain as much as four pounds in less than a week’s time. Creatine manages muscle acidity so that muscles do not get easily fatigued. It also regulates calcium levels in the muscle tissue so that proper contractions can be performed. Creatine supplements can strengthen muscle cell membranes and have a natural ability to repair them and to enable them to grow more efficiently. However, it is to be noted that intake of creatine supplements must be regulated as they can negatively affect kidney and liver. Popular Creatine Supplements available in the market include MuscleTech’s Cell-Tech Hardcore, JetFUSE NOX from German American Technologies, GlycerGrow from Controlled Labs, Universal Nutrition’s Micronized Creatine and Creakic Hardcore from MuscleTech.

Probiotics – Probiotic supplements help in better digestion of proteins, which can be tough to break down and they are used by body builder because they help them to gain more energy from the protein supplements such as bars, powders or shakes that they intake. Probiotic supplements are available in the form of capsules, powders and shakes. Important Probiotic supplements include Ultimate Flora Critical Care 50 Billion, Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics 12 Plus, PB 8 High-Potency Probiotic, and Jarro-Dophilus EPS. It is advisable to take probiotic supplements that are available in capsule form as they have higher bacteria levels that their powder or shakes counterparts.

Pre-Workout Supplements

Most often body builders take pre-workout supplements because they want energy that can keep them going through grilling workout routines. The supplements are especially formulated with ingredients that enhance energy and also build up muscle mass or strong, lean, hard muscles. Intense body workout sessions can make a person hit the plateau as they feel they are not getting the results they wanted through exercise. Taking pre-workout supplements helps to give body the sustenance or endurance that is required to go beyond their limits and help them to achieve their fitness results.

Pre-Workout Supplements Review

Pre-workout supplements that you can consider include the following:
LG Sciences Anadraulic State GT – This supplement is quite effective in aiding muscle growth and its key feature is the ability to generate the androgenic compound that is much required for muscle growth.

Scivation Quake 10.0 – This supplement has scientifically-proven ingredients that support lean muscle mass gains. They offer intense energy and also help to improve mental focus and concentration.

USPlabs Jacked – This supplement gives good energy for intense workouts and there are no problems such as headaches, crashes or blown workouts. Users will find that while they have more energy and stamina to handle drilling workout routine, these supplements also give them the perfect focus and throughout the workout pumps and vascularity is never out of control.

BSN No-Xplode – This supplement is the most popular one in the market because of its ability to enhance both physical and mental energy. The key feature here is that it has a strong creatine matrix that can make more blood flow into your muscle, which means you can get results you want from your workouts.

Muscletech NaNO Vapor – This supplement enable athletes to gain the best out of their workouts by using state-of-the-art complexes that enable the user to gain hard muscle in a short while.

Are Body Building Supplements Really Beneficial?
Body building supplements are quite effective because they enhance performance and give the energy and stamina that is required to achieve required workout results. They are considered to be better than steroids because they do not alter the body’s natural hormone levels. However, it is important to keep in mind the fact that body building supplements are just that – supplements. They can be taken additionally but cannot become a substitute for real food sources and so before opting for them, it is vital to check if making any changes to normal diet can achieve the results that they provide. There are many natural or herbal supplements, but be aware of the fact that they may be unsafe or you might experience unpleasant side effect by taking them.

Do Nutritional Supplements Work? Some Surprising Facts

Some big, unfounded rumors are circulating about nutritional supplements.

And they’re circulating under the guise of science and experience. But instead of helping you make wiser choices for your health, they do the opposite. They make it harder.

Because these false tales ignore volumes of research and several thousands of years of human healing practices using food, herbs and minerals.

What fallacies am I talking about?

A December 2013 editorial published in The Annals Of Internal Medicine, titled “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements” concluded:

“We believe that the case is closed- supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.”[1]

Now here’s the thing… I agree we need to pay attention to results of the studies the authors referred to when they came to this conclusion. This editorial refers to several recent studies. Each of these studies underscores some important reasons why nutritional supplements don’t work in specific situations.

But other than that, they’re dead wrong.

Because if anything these studies only highlight the mistakes people and doctors make when it comes to using supplements. Simply put, when people choose poor quality supplements and use the wrong supplement for the wrong reasons, supplements don’t do much good.

In contrast, as hundreds of people who have consulted with me as a doctor have discovered, when you choose the right, high quality supplement for the right health concern, you’ll see the benefits.

The key is to make knowledgeable choices.

A single article is too limited to cover 40 plus years of knowledge I draw from in recommending supplements to my patients. But I can offer some basic guidelines that will help you make better choices when you use supplements.

Here’s what you need to look out for in order to ensure the nutritional supplements you use work.

Get The Right Dose Of Nutrition

Three of the studies the editorial team used to make their case showed multivitamins did little to change the risk of brain problems, cardiovascular issues after a heart attack or overall health risks for older people.

I wasn’t surprised by this.

In trying to cover the whole spectrum of nutrition without overdoing it in any one area, multivitamins usually only offer a small percentage of the nutrients you need to take care of a specific health concern. And often enough they include nutrients you don’t even need depending on how you eat.

For example, most multivitamins contain 400 IU or less of vitamin D. While this is the official recommended daily allowance for vitamin D, most holistic doctors would consider this a drop in the bucket when it comes to raising your blood vitamin D levels.

I have my patients get blood tests to assess vitamin D levels and then recommend supplements accordingly. Often enough, I recommend at least 1000 IU – sometimes as much as 5000 IU – to get them to healthy vitamin D levels in the blood.

Multivitamins provide a baseline for nutrition. Not strategic intervention that can really make a difference.

And this brings me to the next issue…

Choose The Best Nutritional Supplements For Your Specific Needs

Just because vitamin A supplementation worked for your neighbor, doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Perhaps you eat lots of winter squash and chlorella, rich in this vitamin. You don’t need a supplement.

Not everyone needs the same amount of supplementation.

Supplementation works best when it’s tailored to your individual health concerns, eating habits, lifestyle and genetic makeup. When adding supplements to your diet, start with you – with what you’re struggling with and what you know are your weak points.

This is why studies involving people without any nutritional deficiencies to assess the effectiveness of supplements may have had less significant results.

It’s also why multivitamins have limited effectiveness. The higher quality ones may give you a nice nutritional base. But they do little to offer you the strategic nutrition that thousands of studies have shown can make a difference with specific health concerns.

But it doesn’t matter what dose of supplement you choose, if you don’t pay attention to this next issue, you won’t get what you need…

Choose Natural Supplements

Synthetic versions of vitamins can not only be less effective, they can be dangerous. As the Annals of Internal Medicine editorial team correctly pointed out, some research has shown that vitamin A supplementation can in fact increase your risk of lung cancer.

However, if you get the precursor for vitamin A that’s found in chlorella and other whole foods – beta carotene – you don’t have to worry. Unlike with vitamin A, your body only converts the beta-carotene it needs and gets rid of the rest.

Natural substances are hard to mimic in a chemistry lab. We may do a pretty good job, but several different vitamin studies have shown that synthetic forms of vitamins – like the ones used in several vitamin A and E studies – can disrupt the way your body uses nutrition.

But even if you go natural, you still need to pay keen attention to the next criterion…

Make Quality A Priority

Listen, do you think some wilted spinach that’s been sitting in your fridge for 2 weeks will give you the same nourishment as that spinach picked from your garden minutes ago? Of course not!

So why would you assume all supplement ingredients are of the same quality?

Sure they may be natural ingredients. But natural doesn’t necessarily mean quality.

Plenty of manufacturers scoot by with ingredients your body can’t use – or contain little concentration of the active compounds you’re seeking. Multivitamins are particularly notorious in this area. If you pick one up at random from the local pharmacy, I can just about guarantee that many of the nutrients in the multivitamin you selected will be hard for your body to use and offer limited benefits.

For example, calcium carbonate – found in many multivitamins as well as calcium supplements – is much harder for your body to breakdown and absorb than calcium citrate.[2]

When it comes to botanical supplements, their quality depends heavily on how they were sourced and processed. For example, if eleuthero root is harvested in the winter months, when much of the plant’s energy is stored in its roots, you’ll get a much higher concentration of active ingredients, eleutherosides. However, not every eleuthero producer takes care to harvest at this time, leading to a range of potency when it comes to eleuthero supplements on the market.

However, as good as a high quality extract or isolated ingredient is, rarely can they compete with the best form of supplementation.

The Best Nutritional Supplements Are Made With Whole Foods

While we’ve discovered some applications for isolated vitamins and plant compounds… and while I sometimes suggest my patients use certain extracts or isolated vitamins… when it comes down to it, nothing beats the complex chemistry of food for giving your body the best nutrition.

Nutrients found in food work together to nourish you in incredibly complex ways. It’s like a symphony with hundreds of players. And often enough, when we try to isolate nutrients, we miss out on powerful health benefits.

For example, when it comes to the supplement, eleuthero, scientists have found that some of the isolated compounds, eleutherosides, seem to increase immune health. But they also found that none of the isolated eleutherosides worked as well for strengthening your immune health as taking whole eleuthero.[3]

3 Tips For Finding Nutritional Supplements That Work

As a doctor who’s witnessed hundreds of people recovering excellent health thanks to the use of nutritional supplements, I know this widely publicized editorial from the Annals of Internal Medicine has the potential to cause tremendous damage. By referring to a few non-representative and poorly designed studies to condemn nutritional supplements as a whole, the authors have robbed people of health options that can make all the difference.

But I also understand the need, highlighted by the studies referred to in the editorial, for better understanding of how to choose and use supplements more effectively.

Here are a few suggestions:

Do your research. Go beyond the headlines and ask questions. Get information that addresses all the questions I raised in this post. Learn more about the health concern you have, the nutrient you’re considering using and the company that produces supplements that provide this nutrition.
When in doubt, consult with a professional like a holistic doctor. As part of our professional work, we keep up with the research. In addition, we have our years of practice to draw on in seeing how supplements work on a case by case basis. A holistic doctor can help you determine the quality of a supplement. And they can help you decide if it’s the right one for your needs.
Consider using supplements that have already gone through rigorous quality assessments. For example, supplement distribution companies like Emerson Ecologics set high standards for the supplements they carry in order to help practitioners like me make good choices more easily. While you will need an official practitioner recommendation for purchasing from them, you will know that the supplements they carry are well vetted.

Become The Expert: Know The Best Supplements For You

The most important thing you can do to use supplements effectively is to know yourself. Get to know your body and note how supplements work for you.

And keep this in mind: Studies are important. But they also only capture a snapshot of the reality. Your unique biochemistry may not fit into this.

Because of this, you can know better than any doctor or researcher what supplement works for you. When it comes down to it, no one else can do as good a job as you in making the final decision about which are the best nutritional supplements for you.

While professionals like me can help you with guidance and advice, you need to be the expert when it comes to your health.

Sources:

[1] Eliseo Guallar, MD et al. Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. Ann Intern Med. 2013;159(12):850-851-851

[2] Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium. Office Of Dietary Supplements.

[3] Steinmann GG et al. Immunopharmacological in vitro effects of Eleutherococcus senticosus extracts. Arzneimittelforschung. 2001 Jan;51(1):76-83.

About Dr. Michael E Rosenbaum, MD

Dr. Michael E. Rosenbaum is a 35-year veteran and widely recognized pioneer in the field of nutritional medicine, alternative healthcare and medical acupuncture. As one of America’s most respected experts in natural health and healing, Dr. Rosenbaum has been a frequent lecturer to professional medical groups and has participated in numerous television and radio talk shows. He is also an esteemed member of the Sun Chlorella Advisory Board, which helps guide the medical innovation behind Sun Chlorella products.

The 3 Simple Supplements Needed for Workouts

When it comes to taking supplements there are many to choose from. You don’t need to buy any and take every supplement that is on the market. Most people overdue the necessary supplements they need to take. There are as many different supplement companies with many different supplements all claiming to be the best for you. Many people try a mixture of supplements hoping to find the magical potion for all their diet, weight loss and supplement needs.

In reality you don’t need to take every supplements available to you. You need to stick to the basic supplements that will help you achieve your goals. All you need is the 3 simple supplements to achieve your goals. Remember to keep it SIMPL! Sure

The 3 Simple Supplements.

Many individuals and trainers will use a variety of supplements. However, the three below are the most needed and simplest that can help you achieve your workout, diet goals:

Multi-Vitamin
Creatine
Protein Powder and BCAA

Simple Supplement 1: Multivitamin

Humans need vitamins and minerals for proper health and growth. Because many individuals are busy with day to day life they are lacking in the required daily vitamins needed. I suggest adding a mulit vitamin to your supplement and diet. Vitamins are classified into two main categories, fat soluble and water soluble

Simple Supplement 2: Creatine

Creatine is well researched and most known supplement on the open market. Just about every major nutrition store carries at least on formidable brand of creatine. You do not have to look hard on the internet to realize that creatine is one of the most talked about supplements. Creatine should be added to any person doing resistance training. Creatine is derived from amino acids and also does occur naturally in the human body much as testosterone. Like most supplements, creatine that is produced in the body naturally, is intended to give you the added amount needed for the body to store. However, there are some things to remember while using creatine supplements. Once our body has reached its “loading” potential it can not be saturated any more.

Simple Supplements 3: Protein Powder & Amino Acids (BCAA).

Protein is one of the best muscle building supplements to take. You will find that most weight trainers will add some form of protein, mainly in shake form, to their supplement regiment. Protein accounts for ~ 16% of the bodies lean tissue. The building block of protein is amino acids. Most individuals can obtain the necessary protein intake with the daily food they eat. However, if you are weight training and want to build muscle, then you need to take a protein supplement, the amount of protein found in food will not achieve a steady growth in muscle. Most individuals like the convenience of adding a protein shake to their diet or supplement regiment. I also suggest adding an amino acid regiment to your diet and training routine. I mainly suggest purchasing a (BCAA) Branch Chain Amino Acid. BCAA’s are the make up of leucine, isoleucine and valine. Like protein, BCAA are essential to most resistance trainers supplement regiment. Again, it’s very convenient and is easy to find and purchase.