Chances are, you’re already taking at least a multivitamin and/or mineral supplement every day or every other day. Some people down from 1-15 nutrient pills daily. Its meant to act as dietary insurance, not as a menu item.
Over 50% of Americans are taking some kind of supplement, whether that be a vitamin, mineral, herb or other miscellaneous product. In regards to preventing disease, most studies show not even modest benefits. The results of decades of research with nutritional supplements show no increased protection from cancers, heart disease, stroke, early death, colds and other infections. There are always risks for taking supplements, especially when you take quantities beyond recommended amounts for lengthy periods of time.
So Many To Choose From
If you are looking for a better nutritional supplement, how do you make the decision on which one to pick? How can you improve on what you are already taking?
Dye-Free Gelatin Capsules
All the popular vitamin/mineral supplements are compressed tablets that are colored (artificial dyes). First ditch the colored tablets or capsules. Find a product that is either a dye-free gelatin capsule or a dye-free tablet. If you can find it in a gelatin capsule, your stomach acid will dissolve that outer coat instantly. Then the active ingredients (nutrients) will be biologically absorbed immediately. Look to see if it contains the RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowance) 100% daily allowance of each nutrient. If you really want to go over and above just a plain multivitamin preparation, take any minerals separately. Vitamins are so tiny that manufacturers can fit them all in a small tablet or capsule. Minerals are large. Therefore, to get a sufficient amount of mineral in the supplement, purchase a mineral separately. This way, you are not sacrificing the quantity of mineral you need, for the convenience of having it in one pill with the vitamins.
There are a total of seven nutrients that are deficient in a large percentage of Americans. This is what you should focus on when shopping for a supplement(s).
We have a problem with getting enough calcium in our diets. Multivitamins with minerals, usually only contain about 100-200 of calcium mg per pill. If you don’t enough calcium in your diet, you should look for a separate calcium supplement. According to a recent study from IOM (Institute of Medicine), men need 1,000 mg a day up to 70 years of age and 1,200 mg per day thereafter. This would be from a total of both diet and supplements. For females, 1,000 mg a day up to age 50 and then 1,200 mg daily thereafter. Sufficient calcium may prevent colon cancer and reduce risk of osteoporosis (brittle weak bones). More than 1,500 mg daily may increase risk of prostate cancer.
For a woman of childbearing years, this B vitamin is deficient in about 20% of this population. It prevents spinal deformities in the fetus by allowing the proper development of brain and spinal cord. In 1996, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) required all food companies to add folic acid to their rice and flours and also some breakfast cereals. This lowered spinal defects in fetus by over 33%. Still for the other 67%, even one child born of this nutrient deficiency disease is one child too many. Women of childbearing years should look for a vitamin supplement that contains 400 mcg (not mg, 1,000 mcg=1 mg). If not of childbearing years, then don’t go over 1,000 mcg per day.
Women that are 50 years and younger approximate 15% of the deficiency of this mineral. The amount needed daily is 18 mg daily for menstruating girls and women. Postmenopausal women and also men, if desired, should look for a multi-mineral supplement with no more than 10 mg of iron per tablet. Too much iron will cause constipation and stomach upset. Excess iron in this population of older women and men is linked to heart disease.
4. Vitamin B12 (cyanocolbalamin or colbalamin)
After the age of 50, we sometimes need B12 from fortified foods or supplements. As we get older, our stomach produces less digestive acids and therefore B12 absorption is compromised. The vitamin needs an acidic environment to get fully absorbed into the body. Up to 30% of older adults are not able to absorb enough B12. For ages 50 and older, the need would be a total of 2.4 mcg (not mg, 1,000 mcg=1 mg) daily from food that is fortified with the vitamin and/or supplements. It’s ok to go above 3 mcg in supplements because some have 10 mcg. Deficiency of B12 in your body then you can cause irreversible nerve damage. This deficiency may cause what seems like a dementia (Alzheimer’s Disease).
5. Vitamin D
Our skin makes this vitamin from certain UV (ultraviolet rays) of the sun. The problem is a lot of people avoid the sun. They wear high numbered SPF (Sun Protection Factors) that block out the sun’s rays and with the arrival of cold weather get very little skin exposure to the sun. It is sometimes difficult to get vitamin D from foods. Contained only in fortified foods like milk, orange juice, butter, yogurt, cheese and cereal. Vitamin D is also found in mushrooms, cod liver oil, fish, caviar, oysters and eggs. Recommended daily amounts are 600 IU (International Units) for adults up to the age of 70 and 800 IU thereafter. Besides working in conjunction with calcium to lower the risk of osteoporosis (brittle weak bones) and falls, it may decrease the chance for dreaded diseases like diabetes and cancer.
In addition to the above, the supplement should also include:
Vitamin A – no more than 4,000 IU (International Units) of retinol or no more than 5,000 IU of beta-carotene
Thiamine (B1)-1.2 mg or more
Riboflavin (B2)-1.7 mg or more
Niacin (B3)-10 mg and not exceeding 35 mg
Pyridoxine (B6)-2 mg and not exceeding 50 mg
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)-60 mg, can go up to 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men
Vitamin E-20 IU but no more than 100 IU
Vitamin K-10 mcg or higher up to 120 mcg (consult with MD first, if on blood thinners like warfarin)
Beware Of What May Be Contained Within
Supplements are not regulated by anyone except for the manufacturer. If the company wants to carry a label with either USP (United States Pharmacopeia) and/or NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) you can then be sure that what is on the label is in the supplement. In addition, it will fully breakup (bioavailability) in the body and not just end up useless in the feces. Absence of these seals doesn’t mean the product is a bad product. Just look for long-term reputable manufacturers like Schiff, Solgar and Thompson.
If you really want to get down and see all the good, bad and dirty products then check out, http://www.consumerlab.com. They analyze the most popular supplements but the subscription for full online access will cost you $33 a year. They update this unbiased site constantly. It’s excellent.
What’s The Name Of This Menu Item?
Before you take any nutrient in excess, talk to your health care professional about both the benefits and the possible detrimental effects. It’s better to improve your dietary behavior than to have a supplemental slider with lettuce. Oh, hold the mustard please.