To supplement or not supplement, that is the question. Most natural health specialists believe that supplementation is required for optimal health, under the correct circumstances. To begin, there is no substitute for a good quality diet composed of raw vegetables (organic where possible), minimal fruits, lean protein, seeds, nuts and legumes. This should be the core of your diet, with foods eaten raw being 85% of total calories, and lean animal protein composing a maximum of 10%. This leaves no room for the empty calories derived from sweets, candies, refined wheat products or processed foods of any type. The types of food contain virtually no nutrients and lead to the epidemic growth of obesity and many lifestyle diseases (heart disease, cancer, stroke and dementia). This type of healthy diet will provide your body with virtually all of the known RDA nutrients. Even more important, there are other as yet unknown micro-nutrients in whole foods when eaten raw (cooking can damage or destroy many of the essential enzymes contained in many food items) which have yet to be discovered. It is clear that there is a synergy between all of the nutrients contained in these unprocessed foods which are essential to our body.
The human body has an amazing capacity to process the nutrition from the foods we eat, and an even higher capacity to protect us when we routinely take in lower than necessary amounts of the vitamins and minerals required to enable all the chemical and electrical reactions which we call life. The body has many backup mechanisms which it uses to allow us to survive a nutrient deficiency, but eventually over the course of years and decades it is no longer able to compensate. We are sent signals that there is a pending problem. We see them as life’s little aches and pains, indigestion and headaches. We ignore the problem, and then finally go to see a medical professional for a quick fix. We are given a pill, and go away thinking all will be well. But the problem has only been masked and continues to develop, as we have done nothing to correct the root cause.
We know that, regardless of the type of diet we eat, it is necessary to compliment our nutrient intake with some degree of dietary aid. Many people know this, which the reason nearly 70% of adults indicate they are taking a one a day vitamin supplement each day. While the thought is admirable, the effect on nutrition is negligible from this type of supplement. The problem is that the typical multi-vitamin is of very low quality and is made of synthetic components which the body has difficulty using. Stay away from any vitamin which is solid and made from compressed ingredients. These pills are of little use to the body, and due to the poor quality of the raw chemicals used will have no positive effect, and may actually cause harm. A much better choice is a natural vitamin supplement which will always come in a vegetarian capsule. And quality vitamins take up space, so you will probably need to take 6 – 12 of them spaced out through the day. You will notice that the RDA amounts will be well over 100%… this is a sign that the maker has done research which indicates they are including the optimal dose, and not the meager RDA amount. Read the label, and look for naturally sourced ingredients and be sure the manufacturer has a good reputation. A little research in this area will go a long way in something as important as your health.
Recently we have been provided solid science to back up the theory that dietary supplementation through our lives can yield powerful results in disease prevention as we age. Researchers have published the results of feeding an ‘anti-aging cocktail’ to mice (mice are perfect test subjects as they have genetically similar pathways to humans), and made the observation: “complex dietary cocktails can powerfully ameliorate biomarkers of aging and modulate mechanisms considered ultimate goals for aging interventions.” The cocktail consisted of essential vitamins and minerals and a handful of recognized extracts (carnitine, carnosine, resveratrol, COQ10, ginko, Omega-3’s and green tea extracts). All components were provided in optimal doses. By comparing a group of supplemented mice to a set who received no intervention, the researchers were able to determine that the mice who consumed the cocktail showed a 50% reduction in the critical biomarkers which scientists use to gauge cellular aging. Although the mice did not live longer than the non-supplemented mice (only Calorie Restriction has been documented to extend life), the supplemented mice suffered much less from disease, and had more energy for an extended period.
While there is no substitute for a good healthy diet of raw unprocessed foods, we know that most people require additional support to live a disease-free life. Proper selection of a dietary supplement is essential. Additionally, some people may need further specific dietary aids, depending on health conditions. Diabetes, heart disease and cancer all require a special regimen of supplementation which is beyond the daily multi-vitamin. It is important to research your needs based on health concerns, and avoid the barrage of ‘lifestyle’ pharmaceuticals which do little to create vibrant health on a long term basis.