A Simple Guide to Supplements

Even a good diet doesn’t contain all the vitamins and minerals we need for great health, partly because of intensive farming and longer storing times of fresh foods and also as a result of the refining process which removes nutrients.

Additionally the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) simply aren’t high enough to ensure optimum health – they are set at levels that just prevent us getting a deficiency disease such as scurvy in the case of vitamin C.

Instead, through a combination of a well balanced diet and a good supplementation programme, you should try to achieve an optimum daily allowance (ODA) of vitamins and minerals – which will help you to achieve great health. As a result you’ll notice a lot of benefits to your health including a boost in your immunity (less colds and infections), increased energy and a reduced risk of getting chronic disease like cancer and heart disease.

This article will explain exactly what you should include in your supplementation programme and why.

The basic building blocks of a good supplement programme

It’s impossible to fit all the nutrients you need in one tablet so nutritional therapists use ‘formulas’ – combinations of vitamins and minerals – that, when combined appropriately, more or less reach your needs. In a typical health supplement programme you may end up with four supplements to take. These formulas are like building blocks. The essential building blocks are shown in the Supplement Jigsaw below.

These ‘jigsaw pieces’ pieces make it much simpler to understand what you need in your supplement programme and below you’ll find what to look for in each one:

1. Multi-vitamin and mineral

The starting point of any supplement programme is a high potency multivitamin and multi-mineral. This should provide the following nutrients:

Multi-vitamin – a good multivitamin should contain:

  • Vitamin A (7,500iu) – needed for healthy skin and protecting against infections.
  • Vitamin D 10mcg (400iu) – helps maintain strong and healthy bones
  • Vitamin E (100iu) – a powerful antioxidant which protects body cells from damage and helps the body use oxygen, preventing blood clots, improving wound healing and fertility.
  • Vitamin C (250mg)- strengthens the immune system and keeps bones, skin and joints firm and strong.
  • B vitamins – 25mg each of B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6, 10mcg of B12, 200mcg of folic acid and 50mcg of biotin – these all work together and are essential for energy, brain function, healthy skin and hair, hormones and digestion.

Multi-mineral – this should provide:

  • Calcium (300mg) – promotes a healthy heart, improves skin, bone and teeth health, relieves aching muscles and bones
  • Magnesium (150mg) – strengthens bones and teeth, promotes healthy muscles and essential for energy.
  • Iron (10mg) – vital for energy
  • Zinc (10mg)- has many purposes – it’s essential for growth, important for healing and energy and helps the body cope with stress.
  • Manganese (2.5mg) – helps to form healthy bones, cartilage, tissues and nerves, stabilises blood sugar and is essential for reproduction.
  • Chromium (20mcg) – balances blood sugar and helps to normalise hunger and reduce cravings.
  • Selenium (25mcg)- reduces inflammation, helps fight infections and promotes a healthy heart.
  • Plus ideally some molybdenum, vanadium and boron should all be included.

2. Add extra vitamin C and other immune boosting nutrients

Vitamin C – this is worth taking separately because the amount you need won’t fit in a multi. The supplement should provide around 1,800mg of Vitamin C. Some vitamin C formulas also provide other key immune boosting nutrients such as bioflavonoids or anthocyanidins in the form of black elderberry and bilberry and zinc.

3. Add extra antioxidant nutrients

An optimal intake of antioxidant nutrients slows down the ageing process and prevents a variety of diseases so it is well worth supplementing extra antioxidant nutrients – on top of those in a good multivitamin – to ensure you achieve the best possible ageing protection. The kind of nutrients you should look for in an antioxidant supplement are vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene, zinc and selenium, possibly iron, copper and manganese, the amino acids glutathione or cysteine, plus phytonutrients such as bilberry extract, elderberry extract, pycnogenol and grape seed extract. These plant chemicals, rich in bioflavonoids and anthocyanidins, are also often supplied in more comprehensive vitamin C formulas.

4. Include enough essential fats

Your essential fats are omega 3 and omega 6 – they promote a healthy heart, thin the blood, reduce inflammation and improve the function of the nervous system. You can get enough of these from your diet if you eat either a heaped tablespoon of ground seeds every day, have a tablespoon of special cold-pressed seed oils and/or eat oily fish three times a week. If you’re unlikely to manage this then you can supplement them.

  • Omega 3 (350mg EPA, 350mg DHA) – take either flax seed oil capsules or the more concentrated fish oil capsules providing EPA and DHA.
  • Omega 6 (110- 260mg) – supplement a source of GLA such as evening primrose oil or borage oil. Even better is a combination of all three – EPA, DHA and GLA.

These are the basic building blocks of a good supplement programme. I take these every day and when combined with a well balanced diet should help you to be the healthiest you can be.

You can get a supplement programme designed specifically for you from the 100% Health Programme – simply complete the questionnaire online and you’ll receive your ideal diet, lifestyle and supplement programme. Click here to start.

Click here to see what nutrient intake you achieve by diet alone – and how this compares to the optimum daily intake (ODA).

To find out more about optimum nutrition read The Optimum Nutrition Bible or Optimum Nutrition Made Easy.