Should I be taking nutritional supplements?

Last updated on March 17th, 2018  

You and your body are made of trillions of cells. Those cells are being manufactured and replaced in huge numbers every minute of every day.

To create your cells your body needs many different substances. The building blocks out of which the cells are made. Sometimes I call these substances chemicals and other times nutrients. Both words have particular technical meanings, but here I am using a more generic meaning of those words.

When I write “nutrients” I  mean vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fatty acids, among others, which are more properly called micro-nutrients. On the other hand, the macro-nutrients in foods are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Your body literally takes all these nutrients, both macro and micro, and uses them to make the cells that make up your body.

If your body is deficient in various chemicals your body will use other less desirable chemicals that may be present to make your cells. It may also make your cells with less desirable properties.

In other words, if all the best and most desirable ingredients are available your body will make strong healthy cells. If not it will make less healthy cells.

The availability of appropriate nutrients within your body also affects the efficiency with which various processes operate within your body. The rate at which your body can move oxygen and energy around depends on the health of the cells.

The US Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is the minimum amount of various nutrients that the government feels you should consume.

However, the RDA represents the minimum you should consume in order to avoid obvious diseases like scurvy. It does not tell you what is an optimal amount for cell production and overall health.

A major reason that people do not get the necessary nutrients has to do with diet, but not necessarily because of your dietary choices.

Farming methods have lead to a depletion of the many of the nutrients which used to occur naturally in soils.  For the most part farmers now add the major nutrients needed by plants through the use of fertilizers.  However, those few nutrients that they do add (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, among others) are not all the nutrients that used to be available to plants.  Also, changes in farming techniques have lead to changes in the nutrient balance of our foods.

Food have less of some nutrients, more of other nutrients, and some nutrients are missing altogether.

Even organic and non-GMO food suffer from the nutrient balance and absence problems.

Thus even if you are eating what you think of as the healthiest diet possible you may still end up missing nutrients or being wildly out of balance.

Try this simple experiment: track your  potassium intake for a week .  The odds that your are getting anywhere near the  amount of potassium the US RDA calls for are very low.  And you are not missing the target by a little you are missing it by a lot.  The reason you are missing so much potassium is that the potassium content of food used to much higher. Today’s food simply does not contain the amount of potassium that the food contained in the past.

There is similar story behind Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  Back in the days of grass fed cows and chickens the meat tended to have an Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio of 1 to 1.5.  With grain fed beef and chicken the ratio is 1 to 7.5.  You are better off with the more balanced ratio.

Also grass fed beef and chicken tend to be way higher in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals than grain fed simply because the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are simply absent from the grain feed. There are fortified grain feeds which attempt to add the missing nutrients back in, but even then there are still missing nutrients.

Please be aware that you can get too much of a good thing. There are some nutrients of which you can get too much and that can lead to problems.

The good news is that there are not many of them which makes the task of finding the appropriate supplements easier.

In the following suggestions I will clearly identify the nutrients you should be more careful of.

If you decide to start nutritional supplements please talk with your doctor. Changes that you make to your diet including nutrients can affect medications that you are taking.

If your doctor brushes you off and tells you supplements are a waste of money find a new doctor.

Also, do not start taking a whole bunch of new supplements all at once.

Start small. Add the more important ones first. Add a small amount increasing the amount over a few weeks or months.

Nutrients are also useful in helping your body fight off various diseases.

There are a lot of nutrients out there. I would start small and focus on the more well understood ones first.

There are two classes of nutrients you should add to your daily regiment:

Spices

Ceylon Cinnamon
Turmeric
Garlic (can be odorless)
Cayenne
Ginger

You can click on the items to see a product link
via Amazon

You can take these in tablet form, or stir or mix the powdered spice
into a food or drink.

Spices are generally much cheaper in the raw (powdered) form.

Nutritional Supplements

Vitamin C (1000 iu per day)
Multi Vitamin with trace elements
CoQ10
Grape Skin/Seed extract
Green Tea extract
IP-6
Magnesium (400 iu per day)
Vitamin B12
   be careful with Vitamin B12
   consult your doctor (start small)
Vitamin D3 (2000 iu per day)
Iodine (unbound)
   be careful with Iodine
   consult your doctor (start small)
Vinpocetine
Probiotic
Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc
    You can take this one & the Magnesium above

When possible I would start with 1/2 the recommended dosage for the first two weeks.

Be careful with Iodine. Taking too much or even just changing the amount you are getting each day can cause side affects. I would start with 1/3rd the suggested dosage for the first 8 weeks and upping the dosage 1/3rd at a time.

So which supplements should you buy?

Generally you want the “highest bio-availability”. Often this means liquid form, dissolvable powder or gel capsule. There are some nutrients which are destroyed by the stomach so you will want to get those in a form that can get through the stomach and then be absorbed in colon.

What can I expect from taking all these nutrients?

Probably the most obvious change will be in your reactions to colds.

A healthy person getting plenty of the above nutrients will generally experience fewer colds and those that they do experience will be on the order of a few hours rather than days.  The symptoms will also be substantially reduced.

Over the long haul, you will be reducing or avoiding the diseases associated with a chronic lack of some of these nutrients.

A fair amount of research is pointing to many forms of cognitive decline in old age having at least some relationship to shortages of certain nutrients.

Your body works hard to maintain a particular potassium to sodium balance.  Both potassium and sodium are incredibly important chemicals in the operation of many parts of your body including: nervous system, heart, kidney function, muscles, and blood pressure, among others. Helping your body maintain the appropriate potassium/sodium balance will help your body operate more efficiently and help you to be healthier.

The following book goes into quite a bit more detail on how nutrients and the chronic lack of them affects cognitive ability and even provides you with a guide by which you measure your cognitive decline or improvement over time.

Related Books worth reading

The Brain Trust Program

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