In case you are new to health supplements, I thought I’d explain the basic building blocks of a good nutritional supplement programme, based on my research at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in establishing Optimum Daily Allowances.
Theoretically, at one extreme you could take a mega-mega-multivitamin and mineral that has everything you could possibly need in it. The trouble is this would be enormous, impossible to swallow and no doubt give you a lot more than you need of some nutrients. The other extreme is to take one supplement for each nutrient, exactly matching your requirements – but you’d end up with handfuls of pills.
So, instead, 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
1. Start with a High Potency Multivitamin and Mineral
The starting point of any supplement programme is a high potency multivitamin and multimineral. This should provide the following nutrients:
Good multivitamin should contain at least 7,500iu of A, 10mcg (400iu) of D, 100iu of E, 250mg of C, and 25mg each of B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6, 10mcg of B12, 200mcg of folic acidWhat it does: Critical during pregnancy for the development of a baby’s brain and nerves. Also essential for brain and nerve function. Needed for utilising… and 50mcg of biotinWhat it does: Particularly important in childhood. Helps your body use essential fats, assisting in promoting healthy skin, hair and nerves. Deficiency Signs: Dry skin,….
This should provide at least 300mg of calciumWhat it does: Promotes a healthy heart, clots blood, promotes healthy nerves, contracts muscles, improves skin, bone and dental health, relieves aching muscles and bones,…, 150mg of magnesiumWhat it does: Strengthens bones and teeth, promotes healthy muscles by helping them to relax, also important for PMS, important for heart muscles and nervous…, 10mg of ironWhat it does: As a component of red blood cells, iron transports oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from cells. Also vital for energy production…., 10mg of zincWhat it does: Component of over 200 enzymes in the body, essential for growth, important for healing, controls hormones, aids ability to cope with stress…, 2.5mg of manganeseWhat it does: Helps to form healthy bones, cartilage, tissues and nerves, stabilises blood sugar, promotes healthy cells, essential for reproduction and red blood cell…, 20mcg of chromiumWhat it does: Helps balance blood sugar, normalise hunger and reduce cravings, improves lifespan, helps protect cells, essential for heart function. Deficiency Signs: Excessive or… and 25mcg of seleniumWhat it does: Antioxidant properties help to protect against free radicals and carcinogens, reduces inflammation, stimulates immune system to fight infections, promotes a healthy heart,…, and, ideally some molybdenumWhat it does: Helps rid the body of protein breakdown products, strengthens teeth and may help reduce the risk of tooth decay, detoxifies the body…, vanadium and boron.
MULTIVITAMIN & MINERAL
You simply can’t fit all of the above vitamins and minerals into one tablet. So good, combined multivitamin and mineral formulas recommend two or more tablets a day to meet these kind of levels. The bulkiest nutrients are vitamin CWhat it does: Strengthens immune system – fights infections. Makes collagen, keeping bones, skin and joints firm and strong. Antioxidant, detoxifying pollutants and protecting against…, calcium and magnesium. These are often insufficiently supplied in multivitamin and mineral formulas. Vitamin C, in particular is best taken separately simply because you’ll never get 1,000mg (the ideal daily dose) into a multi.
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 bioflavonoidsBioflavonoids are sometimes referred to as vitamin P. Flavonoids are widely distributed in plants and are known for their antioxidant activity…. or anthocyanidins in the form of black elderberry and bilberry and zinc.
3. Add Extra Antioxidant Nutrients
The evidence is now very conclusive that an optimal intake of antioxidantAntioxidants are substances that protect cells within the body from damage caused by free radicals. They help to strengthen the body’s ability to fight infection… nutrients slows down the ageing process and prevents a variety of diseases. For this reason it is well worth supplementing extra antioxidant nutrients – on top of those in a good multivitamin – to ensure you are achieving the best possible ageing protection. The kind of nutrients that are provided in an antioxidant supplement are vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene, zinc and selenium, possibly iron, copper and manganese, the amino acidsAmino acids are commonly known as the building blocks of protein. There are 20 standard amino acids from which almost all proteins are made. Nine… 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. Are You Getting Enough Fat?
There are two ways of meeting your essential fatThere are many different types of fats; polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, hydrogenated, saturated and trans fat. The body requires good fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) in order to… requirements: one is from diet, either by eating a heaped tablespoon of ground seeds every day, having a tablespoon of special cold-pressed seed oils and/or eating oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring, anchovies) three times a week; the other is to supplement concentrated oils. For omega 3 this means either flax seed oil capsules or the more concentrated fish oil capsules providing EPAEPA is short for Eicosapentaenoic Acid. It is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, and is often… and DHADHA is short for Docosahexaenoic Acid. It is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, and is often…. For omega 6 this means supplementing a source of GLAGamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) is an essential fatty acid within the omega-6 family. It is found primarily in plant based oils such as evening primrose… 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. Then, there are optional extras – from nutrients that support your brain, your mood and give you an energy boost when you need it, to natural relaxants or hormone balancers.
Receive your own supplement recommendations by completing my online 100% Health Programme – simply complete the questionnaire online and you’ll receive your ideal diet, lifestyle and supplement programme. Click here to start.
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