The question is always whether you should supplement your diet for good health or not? Generally it’s better if nutrients come from food. But most people don’t eat an optimum diet and so can’t get the nutrients they require from their food. Supplements can be useful as they can fill nutrient holes in your diet. On their own they will never be enough to reverse lousy eating habits. But well selected, high quality supplements certainly have benefits. Most people don’t need to take handfuls but there are some basic supplements that everyone in our society would benefit by taking.
MULTIVITAMIN & MINERAL
Even when they eat well, most Aussies don’t get the optimum 6-8 serves of vegetables each day, or even the 5-6 recommended serves. Nor do they always get the recommended 2 serves of fruit.
Unfortunately Australian produce is affected by the low levels of minerals in our soils with the result that much of the produce we grow is also lacking in minerals and vitamins. This problem is worsened by modern commercial farming practices which further deplete the already starved soil (and produce) of nutrients.
If you only eat organic produce you may be getting enough vitamins and minerals from your foods. You will certainly get than from commercially grown produce, as it has been shown that organic produce contains much higher levels of vitamins and minerals. But the reality is that most people don’t eat only organic foods.
When you combine the vitamin and mineral deficiency in produce with poor dietary practices it becomes obvious that many Australians are significantly deficient in basic vitamins and minerals.
To make certain you are getting enough a quality multivitamin and mineral daily is almost a necessity.
Be wary! There are many around that are just junk. The vitamins and minerals in them are in a form that is not bio-available, which means your body is not able to absorb them properly and they pass through and out of your gut without being taken up. Money down the toilet, so to speak.
Minerals come in many different forms and some forms are better for you than others. Many multivitamins include inferior forms of minerals that your body can’t really use.
You need a certain amount of vitamins and minerals for them to be effective. If there is not enough they simply don’t do what your body needs. It is important to have sufficient amounts of each nutrient in the multivitamin you take.
Don’t get sucked in by brands flaunting ‘A-Z Vitamins and Minerals’. Chances are you don’t need all of these, and the bigger the range of nutrients the less there will be of each one in the tablet – after all the tablet can only be so big!
Before you throw your money away do some research or talk to your natural health practitioner. Look for someone who is professionally trained in nutrition (taught in natural health courses) including vitamin and mineral therapy. Most mainstream Medicine courses do not include much nutrition.
There are some excellent multivitamins around with the optimum balance of quality nutrients but often these are the ones you can only get from your Health Practitioner.
Cheaper products on supermarket shelves are not worth your time and money.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are wonderful anti-inflammatories and excellent for reducing the symptoms of chronic disease. They are essential for brain function and strongly support heart health.
As the name suggests, these oils are essential for good health. Your body cannot make them so you need to obtain them from food or supplements.
Omega-3 is found in a range of foods, and is particularly high in fish oils, including krill oil.
Vegans and vegetarians are particularly at risk for omega-3 deficiency. While there are a number of vegetarian sources for omega-3 flaxseed oil is usually used for plant-based supplements.
Research into the effects of fish oils has shown that in addition to its wide range of cardiovascular and cognitive benefits it is particularly helpful in the treatment of autoimmune disease. It has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms in Lupus, reduce joint pain and stiffness in Rheumatoid Arthritis, and assist in inflammatory bowel disease.
Omega-3 also plays a role in the prevention of many diseases and reduces the symptoms caused by inflammation in others.
Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 but many people don’t like it. Plus there are concerns about the presence of mercury and other heavy metals in fish. With a high quality omega-3 supplement you avoid these problems.
1 gram – 1000mg, of combined EPA/ DHA each day is recommended for maintenance. But to gain real benefits and boost your health, especially if your health is compromised, you need more, up to 5 grams a day.
Be wary about cheaper omega-3 supplements. In some the processing causes the oil to go rancid. This is actually harmful to you, creating free radicals and inflammation in your body. Omega-3 supplements are very much a case of you get what you pay for!
Most of us are deficient in Vitamin D, even in ‘sunny Australia’. We live and work inside far more than we ever did in the past and when we head outside it is under a thick cover of sunscreen, which prevents the vitamin D in the sun’s rays from being absorbed by the cells in our skin.
Vitamin D is essential for a huge range of body processes. One of the most important is to work with calcium to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It is also crucial for an effective immune system. Deficiency can increase your risk for asthma and cancer, cause daytime fatigue and affect thinking processes
The current recommendation for adults is 1000IU a day. But this is the bare minimum maintenance dose, great if your levels are at an optimum level but nowhere near enough if, like most, your levels of Vitamin D are lower.
Don’t DIY Vitamin D – it is possible to have too much. Most doctors will happily order a blood test to find out your levels. Good levels are up around 75 ng/ml.
Once you know what your level is, it’s important not to get complacent as your levels of Vitamin D vary greatly through the course of a year, being at their highest in late summer and their lowest in early to mid spring.
Discover how to optimize your time in the sun (without sunscreen) to get the most Vitamin D from the least exposure at Good Morning Sunshine: Just How Much Vitamin D Are You Really Getting?
To raise the levels in your body, rather than just maintain them, you need between 1000 and 5000 IU a day, depending on how low your levels are. Make sure you get the D3 form.
Again, there is quite a big difference between the quality of different brands and how well your body is able to utilize them. Be guided by your Natural Health Practitioner.
The two most commonly used forms of algae are spirulina and chlorella. These are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Spirulina is one of my favourite supplements and I recommend it to clients regularly as well as taking it myself.
Chlorella is an amazing detoxifier which cleanses heavy metals from your body.
Spirulina is a great detoxifier but is higher in protein, so excellent to boost your energy when you feel flat, or simply every day. It is an excellent punchy source of nutrients and can help you feel healthier very quickly. Read more about it at Spirulina, The Supergreen Solution
Dosage requirements vary and you need to adjust for your requirements. Because algae are food you can’t overdose on them, and you can increase how much you take in times of greater need. But you may need to go gently especially if your health is poor because too much algae may provide too much stimulation for the body to deal with.
It is VITAL that your algae is well sourced. It MUST be organic or it will be loaded with heavy metals like mercury. Look for tablets or powder with an even dark green colour. Lighter specks indicate the presence of fillers.
Probiotics occur naturally in your gut. They play an important role in your wellness, not only by improving your digestion, but also by boosting your immune system and keeping bad bacteria in check. They control yeast overgrowth and diarrhoea and inhibit lactose intolerance.
Our digestive system functions best with the aid of a quality probiotic. The trillions of good bacteria in your gut are essential for good health but can easily be destroyed or over-run by bad bacteria.
Numbers of these bacteria decrease as we age. Antibiotics are notorious for killing them. Poor diet or pollution can also destroy them. When numbers decline your system goes right out of balance and you can suffer many symptoms.
Probiotics come from two sources – fermented foods or a probiotic supplement.
Fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea, yoghurt and need to be raw or the probiotics will be dead.
If you don’t eat fermented foods every day taking a good quality, broad spectrum probiotic daily will repopulate your gut with good bacteria to fortify your health and return your digestion to normal.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are the two most common and effective forms of probiotic. You need between 10 and 30 billion ‘live units’ each day.
COENZYME Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is a power packed antioxidant which delivers various substances including fat into your cells for a boost of energy. It is of great benefit in helping cells function properly and preventing cell damage.
CoQ10 provides great benefit for heart health, and offers anti-oxidant protection for a number of related cardiovascular conditions. It keeps your heart functioning efficiently.
As an anti-oxidant it protects cells against the stress of free radical damage and helps prevent chronic disease.
Once you reach the age of 25 the levels of CoQ10 in your body start to drop and you are likely to be deficient. When this happens DNA is damaged more quickly and you age prematurely. CoQ10 slows the process and may improve signs of aging like fine wrinkles.
CoQ10 seems to offer benefits for a wide range of diseases including chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
When CoQ10 is used for specific diseases dosage varies wildly. But for general health and anti-oxidant protection between 60-150mg daily is sufficient.
I hope this short list helps you select supplements you need to include in your everyday health plan.
All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.