Supplement for health

We all know that it is important to eat properly in order to get all the nutrients we need on a daily basis. If you are then getting everything you need is there a a reason to be supplementing? What is behing the supplementation business which is world wide worth close to $220billions. Is it really worth it?

The case for supplements

There are a few reasons why someone could consider some supplements.

  • To keep the Electrolyte balance

You need to replenish electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, calcium on a daily basis as they are not stored in the body and you excrete from the urine and sweat. Especially on a low-carb diet since you excrete more water you need to your keep your electrolytes. Additionally it is very possible that the the water you are drinking does not provide you all the essential minerals you need. The easiest way to start though before you run-off and buy a supplement is add some good salt, and some lemon to your water. Salt has all the spectrum of minerals!

  • Because the soil is depleted from nutrients

Even if you are tracking your daily nutrition you can never be sure what nutrients you are really getting from food and especially plants. Plants have many of the required minerals which they take from the soil. Unfortunately unless you have a garden and are growing your own vegetables you are probably not getting all the minerals. The demand for agriculture across the world has lead to a bit depletion of the soil as you can’t effectively plant every year and throughout the year.

  • Because you have a genetic mutation

Genetics play a big role into how we absorb the food we eat. All the people carry genes which might have certain mutations that make them work not so effectively. In this case you might not be able to absorb or metabolise certain nutrients as effectively.

  • Because you are getting older

As you age, malabsorption becomes a problem because your body doesn’t have the same capability to break down and absorb nutrients as it used to. The production of digestive enzymes, which breaks down and absorbs nutrients from your food, naturally begins to decline the older you get. You may also be taking more medications than you did when you were younger. Most modern medications actually deplete essential nutrients. Supplements can help restore this imbalance.

  • Because of environmental factors

Diet is not the sole force behind  nutrient deficiencies. Other factors include the following:

  1. Alcohol consumption depletes B vitamins, vitamin C, most minerals, and antioxidants
  2. Allergies and infections deplete vitamins A and C and zinc, among other nutrients
  3. Exposure to air pollutants and other toxins depletes antioxidants
  4. Smoking 
  5. Stress depletes all nutrients, especially B vitamins and vitamin C
  6. Lack of sleep
  • Because of the processing of food

If one depends on wheat or rice for his or her nutrition then there are falling short by far. Whole wheat loses 75 percent of its B vitamins, minerals, and fiber when it is milled into flour. Likewise, rice loses most of its vitamins, minerals, and fiber when it’s polished to turn it from brown to white. The demand to extending the shelve-life of food has very considerable impacts.

  • Because of nutrient inhibitors in your diet

Even in a optimum diet there are a lot of food that inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals like oxalates, sugar, gluten, phytic acid and many more.

  • Because the set RDAs are meant surviving but not optimal health

The Recommended Dietary Allowances have been the accepted standard since the early 1940s. But now nutrition researchers generally agree that the RDAs fall far short when it comes to preventing chronic degenerative diseases, promoting optimum health, and extending life.

The RDAs were first established for the purpose of protecting people against severe nutrient deficiency diseases such as beriberi (thiamin deficiency), pellagra (niacin deficiency), and scurvy (vitamin C deficiency). Even though they’ve been updated several times over the years, the RDAs still do not acknowledge the link between chronic marginal nutrient deficiencies and chronic degenerative diseases. Yet thousands of studies have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that long-term low-grade malnutrition causes or aggravates virtually all of our deadliest illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and autoimmune disorders (in which the immune system turns against the body). It also contributes to a host of less-serious health problems that nevertheless erode one’s quality of life, including cataracts, hearing loss, insomnia, and rheumatism (pain and inflammation in muscles and joints). Achieving the dual goals of optimum health and maximum life span requires nutrient intakes beyond what the RDAs advocate and what diet alone can supply. Hence the term, Optimum Daily Intake(ODI).  While the RDAs provide only short-term protection against serious acute nutrient deficiencies, the ODI might be necessary to sustain optimum health

Take vitamin E as an example. The human body can get along just fine on the RDA of 30 international units (IU). But it needs at least 13 times that amount to have a fighting chance at staying disease-free and lasting 120 years.

  • Because of medication or increased needs

Medication have various side-effects and depleting or blocking absorption of nutrients is usually one of them. Additionally there are cases like pregrancy, or after a surgery where the body needs more nutrients.

But let’s not run to the drug store yet! Keep reading.

Why avoid supplements

  • Large doses of either single nutrient supplements or high potency vitamin and mineral combinations may be harmful.

Very high doses of many supplements, especially vitamins A, D, C, and B6, can cause serious health problems if taken regularly. Excess of one nutrient may cause nutritional imbalances or increase the need for other nutrients. Severe side effects such as kidney stones, liver or nerve damage, birth defects, and even death can occur from 10 to over 100 times of the DRI.

  • Those who consume a multivitamin or multimineral on a daily basis may be at risk for excessive intake, or toxicity of certain nutrients. 

Genetics play a big role into how we absorb the food we eat. All the people carry genes which might have certain mutations that make them work not so effectively. In this case you might not be able to absorb or metabolise certain nutrients as effectively.

  • Those who consume a multivitamin or multimineral on a daily basis may be at risk for excessive intake, or toxicity of certain nutrients. 

Genetics play a big role into how we absorb the food we eat. All the people carry genes which might have certain mutations that make them work not so effectively. In this case you might not be able to absorb or metabolise certain nutrients as effectively.

Myths

“Vitamin and mineral supplements can make up for an unhealthy diet.” 

Food contains important components such as phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and dietary fat, which cannot be found in supplements. Consuming whole foods will provide these components naturally, in much higher levels.Supplementation can also result in large doses of a single vitamin being eaten ‘alone.’ When vitamins are consumed from foods, they have many companions to help them along the way. For instance, provitamin A (beta-carotene) in food is accompanied by hundreds of its carotenoid relatives. 

Simply taking a vitamin pill is not an instant fix for feeling run down or lacking in energy. It is the combination of a whole range of compounds in foods that gives us the protection (most of which we probably don’t even know about). When you artificially remove one of them and provide it completely out of context, it may not be as effective and, in the case of some vitamins, can have negative effects.

Strategies

Consider the below into your daily strategies

  1. Calcium is best absorbed from food rather than supplements. Consume foods rich in calcium along with vitamin D for maximal absorption.
  2. Expose skin to brief amounts of sunlight (5-30 minutes between 10am and 3pm, to face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen).
  3. Consuming lactase enzymes may be beneficial for those who are lactose intolerant.
  4. Supplements should be consumed when they do not compete for absorption with other foods. 
  5. Exercising for 30 minutes 5 days out of the week is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and acts to combat the effects of stress on the body.
  6. Smoking will increase the body’s need for vitamin C, and alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to utilize several nutrients while destroying the liver. Taking additional vitamins and minerals will not protect people from their harmful effects

Supplements that do make sense

Although dietery supplements should be kept to a minimum, there are certain supplements that will help your overall performance.

Astaxanthin

A lipid soluble carotenoid found naturally in krill, shrimp, salmon, and other pink-colored marine animals. Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature. One study found that 8 weeks of supplementation with astaxanthin reduced wrinkles, improved moisture retention, and improved the elasticity of the skin. Astaxanthin can also provide 

  • Protection against collagen breakdown 
  • Protection from skin damage from sun exposure.
  • It has shown to reverse grey hair
  • Reduces CRP and inflammation
  • Normalize histamine levels

Betaine HCl

Used to help replenish stomach acid in those with hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria. Several case reports suggest that betaine HCl with pepsin can particularly help with abdominal discomfort, bloating, SIBO, IBS, and acid reflux. Sufficient stomach acid is important for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

Bile Acids

A supplement used to help individuals with suspected fat malabsorption or bile acid deficiency. Bile acids break up endotoxins in the gut and prevent their absorption. They have also been shown to prevent bacterial translocation to the mesenteric lymph nodes and are particularly helpful in the treatment of psoriasis. I recommend Jarrow Formulas bile acid factors or Allergy Research Group Ox bile. 

Collagen

Consuming collagen does not “deposit” collagen in your skin. However, collagen is especially rich in the amino acids proline and glycine, so consuming high amounts of these amino acids, whether by taking collagen supplements or by consuming bone broth or other gelatinous animal products, will facilitate increased skin collagen production if all of the necessary cofactors and enzymes are present. Collagen will help to form bones, joints, connective tissues, hair, skin, nails. It has also been shown to stimulate the release of HGH, but unfortunately collagen production declines as we age.  Additionally collagen in food cannot be used to make collagen in our bodies. 

If supplementing with collagen, hydrolyzed collagen is the most bioavailable form; studies suggest that 90 percent is digested and available as amino acids in the bloodstream within one hour. Recommended amount is 15 grams daily.

CoQ10

A compound that helps generate energy inside the mitochondria of your cells and has both anti-aging and antioxidant properties.The body produces CoQ10 naturally, and it is also present in some foods. Oral CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to elevate CoQ10 levels in the epidermis. Applying CoQ10 to the skin can increase energy production and improve mitochondrial function in skin cells, protecting cells against external and internal damage. It may also speed up the healing of wounds. Recommended brand is Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb, which is more bioavailable and has proven efficacy in clinical trials.

Digestive Enzymes

When we eat, digestive enzymes are released by the pancreas and intestinal epithelial cells to help break down large molecules into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars. In cases of pancreatic or gut inflammation, these enzymes may not be produced in sufficient amounts, leading to undigested material in the gut. This can cause abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. Supplemental digestive enzymes taken with meals can help reduce GI symptoms and improve nutrient absorption until the underlying cause of disease can be addressed and normal enzyme production can be restored. I recommend a balanced supplement from BiOptimizers which contains enzymes for all three macros.

Milk thistle

A plant that contains the compound silymarin, a flavonoid with antioxidant properties. Silymarin is particularly beneficial for liver health, and can improve digestion. A 2015 study found that milk thistle helped improve inflammatory skin conditions in animal models. It has also been found to have antioxidant and anti-aging effects in human skin cells. It also help increase glutahtione stores which is our body’s master antioxidant to protect our tissues from toxins.

Activated Charcoal

The lowest hanging fruit of detoxification, which has been used for thousands of years from practitioners around the world. Charcoal binds to chemicals and you poop them out! Many toxins even those made naturally will bing to charcoal. Charcoal can also help with many of the cellular changes associated with aging. Avoid using charcoal with other supplements and do use it for any fast longer than 24hours as the body will increase the release of toxins as part of the cleansing processes.

Some final words

  • Proper balance and adequate levels of essential nutrients is important for a range of complex processes in our body. Supplements are only meant as the word suggests, to complement our diet. 
  • There are cases where supplements might help but you need to consider supplementation carefully. We would suggest first doing the necessary blood tests before proceeding with taking long term any supplements
  • Most people would benefit from and they are relative safe on a daily basis is Nutrition Yeast to cover your B-Vitamins and Magnesium.
  • On the other hand, if you want to enhance your performance, detoxify your liver, you can use in a targeted way some of the supplements mentioned in the article for short periods of time.

Further reading

  • https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Optimum_Daily_Intake
  • https://www.lucymailing.com/
  • SuperHuman, by Dave Asprey
  • https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/dietary-supplements-vitamins-and-minerals-9-338/