The 5 Most Important Supplements For Health and Longevity
Many nutritional supplements and herbs have documented value in maintaining health and possibly also extending lifespan. The following list of recommendations comprises my picks for the 5 most important supplements the average person should take to preserve or reclaim optimum health and vitality. I have chosen this list based on what I call the "preponderance of evidence" (scientific data). Although many substances have proven value for various conditions, this list includes only those that have a substantial amount of scientific study and data behind them. Substances tested for 3 weeks in lab rats do not make my list. Neither do supplements tested in only poorly-controlled or small samplings of people. The supplements and substances on my "A" list have all been thoroughly tested and proven, and the body of scientific documentation leave little doubt as to their importance.
The list is given in order of priority. Please keep in mind, however, that an individual might need a specific nutrient lower on the list or something not on this list at all for the prevention or reversal of a particular illness. For most healthy people, these are the nutrients of highest importance if one is concerned about maintaining health and promoting longevity.
The Five Most Important Supplements For Health and Longevity
1.) Optimal Potency Multiple Vitamin / Mineral / Trace Mineral Supplementation (Maxi Multi)including:
I.) Broad-spectrum vitamin & mineral formula. Many Americans take nutritional supplements for good reason. A wide variety of illnesses have known links to nutritional deficiencies. Adding certain nutrients in supplemental form is an inexpensive insurance policy against some of the worst diseases of modern times. Here are just of few of the known deficiency / disease connections:
A deficiency of antioxidant nutrients (especially beta carotene, vitamins C & E, and selenium) is associated with higher incidence of cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, mouth, lungs and skin. Some researchers believe that antioxidant deficiencies may be related to higher incidence of all cancers.
A mineral deficiency, especially magnesium and potassium but also calcium, is associated with high blood pressure.
Deficiencies of vitamin E, C, B6, B12, folic acid (a B vitamin), and bioflavonoids are associated with cardiovascular disease. The connection between vitamin E and heart health is so well established that conventional medical cardiologists are instructed to recommend vitamin E to their patients.
Healthy bones, and the prevention of osteoporosis, depend on sufficient levels of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, copper, B vitamins, and vitamin D.
In males, benign prostatic hypertrophy is associated with decreased levels of zinc. Zinc deficiency also correlates to decreased immune function. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and diabetes (high blood sugar) occur more frequently in people who are chromium deficient. After diabetes is present, low levels of vitamin A, C, E, plus zinc, selenium, choline, bioflavonoids and B complex vitamins are associated with more complications from the disease.
This list could go on for pages, but you get the idea. Deficiencies of key nutrients are correlated with disease. Such deficiencies are also common in the modern American diet. Depleted soils result in lowered nutritional content in produce AND Americans eat less fresh produce than ever before. Much of our food is highly processed, removing not only nutrients but also fiber and enzymes.
The best health insurance may not be an expensive medical policy, but the addition of sufficient nutrients to fill in the gaps in our day-to-day nutritional status.
II.) High potency antioxidant formula ("ACES": vitamins A,C,E, and selenium and bioflavonoids). Antioxidants are molecules which "quench" and render free radicals harmless. Free radicals are unstable molecules that steal electrons from other molecules and thereby cause damage to normal cells. The damage they cause in the body is called oxidation, and it is the body-equivalent to rust on a piece of tin. Free radical damage is linked to heart disease, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, cancer, cataracts, macular degeneration, immune suppression and aging in general.
Although the body produces many of it's own antioxidants (such as CoQ10 and glutathione), exposure to environmental chemicals in food, air and water, plus the effects of stress, smoking excess alcohol and sunlight can generate more free radicals than the body's antioxidants can "quench." Internal antioxidant production also declines with age. Since so many diseases are associated with declining antioxidants and numerous studies have proven the benefit of keeping these levels high, it is recommended that a high potency antioxidant formula be a part of every basic supplementation program.
III.) Calcium / magnesium / boron / vanadium (bone nutrients) Calcium and magnesium are the primary minerals comprising bone, and inadequate levels can lead to osteoporosis. In combination with trace mineral boron, vanadium and vitamin D, these nutrient serve to protect bone health. Calcium and magnesium have a much more widespread function in the body than preserving bone health, however.
Calcium and magnesium are necessary for normal heart function and blood pressure. Deficiencies of either can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure. Magnesium is necessary for normal energy processes including nerve function and enzyme activation. Deficiencies are associated with cardiac arrhythmias.
Insufficient calcium has recently been shown to be associated with colon cancer, and people who have generous calcium intakes are less susceptible to this condition.
These two major minerals are frequently insufficient even in a "good" diet. Because they take up a lot of space in a capsule, it is impossible to get an optimal daily dose in any "one-a-day" formula. A suggested daily dose is 1,000 -1,500mg per day of calcium and 250-500mg magnesium for both men and women.
IV.) B Complex vitamins (higher doses than in most multiples). B vitamins are used in the body individually and in combination with enzymes to help release energy from food. They are also of extreme importance to the nervous system. B vitamins are required by the metabolic pathways that generate the energy. Every system in the body depends on these vitamins for their role in energy production, and a deficiency of even a single B vitamin can have widespread and serious health consequences. Unfortunately, the B complex vitamins are routinely deficient from the Standard American Diet, because these nutrients are removed when grains and sugars are processed. Deficiencies of B complex vitamins are too numerous to mention here, but the most serious consequences include heart disease (B6, B12 and folate), depression, neuropathy, high cholesterol, cataracts, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis and fatigue to name only a few. Because deficiencies of the b vitamins are so common even in a "good" diet, they higher potency formulas should always be part of a basic multivitamin supplement program.
Recommendation: Maxi Multiis a superior formula of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, flavonoids and high potency antioxidants that provides the optimal nutritional levels of all four formulas listed above in a single supplement. Whether you take four separate formulas or enjoy the convenience and savings of Maxi Multi, this Optimal Potency Vitamin / Mineral / Trace Mineral program should be the cornerstone of any supplement program because it provides so many well studied nutrients. Dose: 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals (9 per day total) or as directed by physician.
2.) Green Food Herbs and Veggies (Maxi Greens)
The Federal government, the USDA and multiple other government agencies are advocating that Americans consume more fruits and vegetables for a healthier life style. As we discussed in the last issue of HealthBeat, however, the nutritive value of these foods has declined dramatically within the last 30 years. In addition to this, few Americans obtain the daily recommended target of 5 fruits and/or veggies.
Plants contain hundreds of non-vitamin, non-mineral substances known as "Phytonutrients" (Phyto=plant). Although not absolutely essential to life like vitamins and minerals are, these plant-derived nutrients never-the-less perform many important functions. Phytonutrients act as detoxifiers, antioxidants, oxygenators, immune stimulators, and anti-mutagenics (Preventing cancerous changes in cells). The typical American diet is far too low in produce, and the produce we do eat is nutritionally deficient, so plant-derived nutrients are often lacking.
Some examples of phytonutrients include:
Indole-3-carbinol (IC3) from cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts). This phytonutrient has been shown to prevent cancer through multiple mechanisms including I.) Protecting the genomic structure of DNA. II.) Converting dangerous estrogens (16-alpha-hydroxyestrone) that cause the development of cancer into safer forms of estrogen (2-hydroxyestrone) that prevent the development of cancer. III.) Blocking estrogen receptor sites on the membranes of breast and other cells. IV.) Inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) of cancer cells. V.) Protecting cells against the effects of pesticides and other environmental pollutants including dioxin that mimic estrogen in the body. VI.) Slowing the propagation of aberrant breast and prostate cells.
Pycnogenols (OPC's) and resveratrol from grapes seed and skin exhibit 50 times more antioxidant power than vitamin E and 20 times more than vitamin C. They easily cross the blood-brain barrier and prevent free radical damage to the brain and nervous system. OPC's bind to collagen and help increase elasticity of skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. It also acts as a smooth muscle relaxant in blood vessels. OPC's have antihistamine effects that make it useful for allergies and asthma.
Catechins from green tea have been shown to neutralize cancer-causing agents and prevent cellular mutations leading to cancer. In addition, green tea prevents abnormal blood clotting, reduces total cholesterol, aids high blood pressure and protects arterioles.
Silymarin from milk thistle has been the subject of over 100 clinical trials. It powerfully protects the liver from the effects of environmental toxins. Is also stimulates liver cell regeneration and is useful for all types of liver disease including the liver-toxic effect of many drugs.
Flavoglycosides in ginkgo biloba are one of the most well-studies herbs for age-related memory changes. ginkgo is a potent antioxidant that increases circulation to small-diameter blood vessels (such as those in the brain and extremities) Studies have verified ginko's effectiveness in early-stage Alzheimer's, multiple infarct dementia ("mini strokes"), age-related depression, glaucoma, impotence, vascular insufficiency and MS. It has anti-allergy effects that make it useful for chronic respiratory allergies and asthma.
THIS IS JUST A SMALL SAMPLE of they types of "phytonutrients" found in herbs and vegetables.
Recommendation: Take specific herbs for any medical condition you may have, but for general prevention and health maintenance, Maxi Greenscombines a broad spectrum of these important plant substances. Daily dose: 2 to 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals.
3.) Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids: Max EPA or Flax Oil
On May 27, 2003, The White House urged government health agencies to encourage Americans to increase their consumption of foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and decrease their intake of trans fatty acids. The release from the Executive Office of The President stated:
"Health researchers have found that Americans can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease with a modest change in their diets. The government should make this life-saving information as widely available as possible."
This Executive initiative is based on the new guidelines of the American Heart Association which now recommends eating cold-water fish at least twice a week and other oils and food sources high in omega-3 fatty acids. (Fish and flax oil are the richest sources). The Office of The President also cited the "growing body of scientific evidence, both experimental and epidemiological, that suggests that consumption of trans fatty acids increases the risk of coronary heart disease."
Recommendation: Americans eat far too little Omega-3 fatty acids and far too much trans fat (any amount of "trans" is too much). Eating or and/or supplementing Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil and flax oil) is known to help prevent over 60 illnesses including heart disease. Dose: 1 TBS. of flax oil OR 6 capsules of flax oil OR 3-6 capsules of MaxEPA (fish oil) OR 2 TBS. ground flax seed meal daily. Some people lack the enzyme to convert flax oil to EPA & DHA (the "active ingredients" from these oils). These people should use the fish oils (MaxEPA) exclusively.
Coenzyme Q10 is a potent antioxidant produced by the body. It functions as an "energizer" to the mitochondria, the body's energy producing units. Dr. Michael Murray says to think of CoQ10 as the body's "spark plugs." Mitochondria, which produce energy, require CoQ10 to "spark" their production on energy units (ATP). Muscles, and the heart in particular, have high requirements for CoQ10. Although it is manufactured in the body, aging humans produce only 50% of the CoQ10 that young adults do. This finding makes CoQ10 one of the most important nutrients for people over 30. Cholesterol-lowering drugs including statins are known to lower CoQ10 levels.
CoQ10 is beneficial in ALL types of heart disease (mitral valve prolapse, angina, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, arrhythmia), periodontal disease, immune deficiency, cancer, chemotherapy side-effects, overweight and obesity, muscular dystrophy, fatigue and for enhancing athletic performance. The suggested dose is 50mg per day for health maintenance and 100-400mg per day for heart disease, cancer and weight loss programs.
Recommendations: For primary prevention, 50-100mg CoQ10 daily should be used. Higher doses (100-400mg) are recommended for heart disease, cancer, and overweight/weight loss programs.
Melatonin is a hormone manufactured from serotonin in the pineal gland. This hormone helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle and set the Circadian rhythms (24-hour cycle) of the body. This, in turn, regulates the release of all other hormones.
Melatonin is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the central nervous system from disease, free-radical injury and aging. Melatonin increases the production of immune cells and is used in cancer medicine for its immune-enhancing and antioxidant effects. (DO NOT use in leukemia or lymphoma until more is known). Recent studies have shown that melatonin helps reduce high blood pressure.
Many researchers consider melatonin to be one of the most powerful anti-aging substances available, but like many other hormones, secretion of melatonin declines with age.
Recommendation: A typical preventative dose is 3mg at bedtime, although higher doses are used (10-20mg) in cancer and certain advanced disease states. Anyone with a neurological disease should certainly be taking melatonin.