"Nutritional supplements bridge the gap between adequate and optimal nutrition. Today, we're living longer, and we all want to be active and healthy into our 70s, 80s, and even 90s. Receiving the right amount of nutrients from food sources and nutritional supplements can help everyone achieve this goal."
Christiane Northrup, M.D.
the distinction between surviving and thriving
While macronutrients (protein, fat, & carbohydrates) are the building blocks of the body, micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) protect and maintain it. Without them, our bodies would fall into serious disrepair and age far too quickly.
Vitamins act like spark plugs in the body, keeping it tuned up and functioning at high performance. They are necessary for growth, vitality, resistance to disease and healthy aging. They regulate metabolism and help release energy from food.
Minerals are the bonding agents that allow the body to absorb nutrients. They keep the body pH balanced - alkaline instead of acid. They are needed by everyone for good health and an active life. They are essential to bone formation, the digestion of food, to regulate cellular fluids, electrical activity of the nervous system, and most metabolic functions. They transport oxygen, govern heart rhythm, help you sleep, and are principal factors in mental and emotional balance. Minerals are SO important, and hardly any of us get enough!
Although we are meant to get the nutrients our bodies needs for optimal health from what we eat, it's nearly impossible to do so nowadays. With higher demands as we are exposed to more and more environmental toxins and stress filled lives, and the declining nutritional value of foods due to depleted soils and long transit times from garden to store, it just makes sense to invest in a good quality basic supplement program.
"If we are healthy, with strong, consistent energy, and we sleep well, live in an unpolluted natural environment, do not hustle and bustle about to work and play, eat a variety of wholesome foods from the earth, and have good digestion and assimilation, we probably need very little, if any, additional supplements. If anything some extra minerals may be required, particularly those that might be deficient in the soils where we live.
However, most of us living in the latter 20th century do not live or eat in this ideal fashion. We may eat on the run, drive on freeways, breathe in polluted air, drink contaminated water, come in contact with various chemicals, and have a lot on our minds. In other words, we have a lot of stimuli, stress, and energy needs.
Those of us who fit into this more realistic lifestyle category of today, I believe, need a stabilizing, nourishing program of vitamins, minerals and other supplements."
Dr. Elson Haas, staying healthy with nutrition
Dr. Christiane Northrup, in her article titled Do We Really Need Vitamins for Good Health, states that striving to get all your nutrients from REAL food is ideal, but taking good quality, properly balanced nutritional supplements can help fill in when our diet falls short or our demands are higher due to illness or increased stress.
A good basic supplement program provides support in four basic categories:
- Antioxidants ~ antioxidants help protect the body at the cellular level by ridding it of free radicals that damage DNA, accelerate aging, and put your health at risk. The most common are vitamin A, C, D,E, CoQ10, and Alpha Lipoic Acid.
- B vitamins ~ B vitamins can bolster your energy level and stamina, helps to balance hormones, supports the adrenal glands, and is especially helpful when your feeling anxious and stressed.
- Minerals ~ minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, are typically associated with musculoskeletal health, but the entire array of minerals is HUGELY important for every aspect of our health!
- Omega -3 fats ~ omega-3 fats are essential for the optimal functioning of every cell membrane in the body. A deficiency can lead to dry skin, cracked nails, brittle hair, fatigue, depression, memory problems, hormone imbalances, achy joints, and a poor immune system.
It's important to take a well-balanced formula when taking supplements so you don't have to worry about megadosing. Since there are SO MANY formulas available that aren't balanced, here's a list of recommended safe nutrient ranges by Dr. Christiane Northrup to use as a guideline.
- Vitamin A: 25,000 IU
- Vitamin D: 800-5,000 IU
- Vitamin E: 400-800 IU
- Vitamin C: 1,000-5,000 mg
- Glutathione: 2-10 mg
- Alpha Lipoic Acid: 10-100 mg
- CoQ10: 10-100 mg
b complex vitamins
- Thiamine (B1): 8-100 mg
- Roboflavin (B2): 9-50 mg
- Pyridoxine (B6): 10-100 mg
- Niacin: 20-100 mg
- Biotin: 40-500 mcg
- Folic Acid: 400-800 mcg
- Vitamin B12: 20-250 mcg
- Pantothenic Acid (B5): 15-400 mg
- Inositol: 10-500 mg
- Choline: 10-100 mg
- Calcium: 500-1,200 mg
- Magnesium: 400-1,000 mg
- Boron: 2-9 mg
- Chromium: 100-400 mcg
- Copper: 1-2 mg
- Iron: 15-30 mg
- Manganese: 1-15 mg
- Zinc: 6-50 mg
- Selenium: 50-200 mcg
- Potassium: 200-500 mg
- Molybdenum: 10-20 mg
- Vanadium: 50-100 mcg
omega 3 fat
DHA: 100-2,000 mg
Start with a good foundation and add other supplements according to your individual needs (hopefully after working with a professional to accurately determine what those needs are). And be sure to purchase good quality supplements that use pharmaceutical-grade (that follows Good Manufacturing Practices) rather than food grade ingredients. Formulas I like are Source Naturals Life Force Multiple (capsules) and Vitacost Mega EFA.
Please remember that supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet. Eating high quality food is still the cornerstone of good health, and supplements are meant to "supplement" that. In doing so, research shows that we can go beyond average health to optimal health.
If you don’t already use a discount supplement supplier, check out Vitacost. They have over 30,000 health and wellness products, including vitamins, supplements, herbs, personal care products, organic foods, and more; and it’s all way cheaper than the health food store! If you decide to check it out, you can register through my link and we’ll both get a $10 off coupon!
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Happy, Healthy Living!
JoAnn Newton is a Holistic Nutrition Educator and Master Massage Therapist with a private practice in Graton, CA.
Passionate about helping people transform their health through holistic nutrition, she facilitates the 23 day online Nutritional E-Cleanse Program seasonally with coaching, compassion, and humor.