By Michael A. Smith, MDEnhancing your diet with nutritional supplements will get you closer to optimal health then diet and exercise alone.
Now as a reader of this blog, there's a good chance that you already agree. But why, exactly, is this the case?
Because the food we eat, even if fresh and organic, does not have the same nutritional value as it used to.
Simply put, the American soil is sick and is producing nutrient poor food.
Supplement With an Ideally Dosed MultivitaminThe very first and most essential supplement is an ideally dosed daily multivitamin. I once asked a friend of mine if he took a multivitamin. His response was, “Vitamins and minerals are so passé. I want to take the latest innovations and something more powerful.”
Don’t be like my friend. Never think of the basic vitamins and minerals as outdated and not “powerful.” From vitamin A to the mineral zinc, your body is totally dependent on these nutrients for optimal health. And I promise you this: You can always live without the latest Amazonian herb that claims to cure everything, but you can never live without vitamins and minerals.
By the way, a multivitamin is usually a lot cheaper than herbal and plant extracts! I can’t stress enough, though, that not all multivitamins are the same. There are your basic, bare-bones multivitamins that provide minimal doses of some essential nutrients. And then there are your robust multivitamins that deliver ideal doses of a full spectrum of essential nutrients.
What is the main difference between these multiples? Dosage. The first type is based on the government’s “recommended dietary allowance,” or RDA, and the second reflects what I call the “ideal daily intake,” or IDI.
What if, instead of RDAs, we promoted IDIs—science based ideal daily intakes of vitamins and minerals that far exceed expectations set forth by the U.S. government because they are all about optimizing health.
Dosing vitamins and minerals at this level goes way beyond protection against deficiencies. It enters the world of optimizing energy levels, hormonal balance, cardiovascular wellness, bone strength, digestive ease, visual acuity, cognitive agility, emotional stability, and joint integrity.
Supplement With Healthy Oils like Omega-3sThe second essential supplement is a high-quality omega-3 fatty acid product. Chances are, you’ve heard of omega-3 fatty acids, because they’ve had their fair share of media exposure lately.
In the simplest terms, omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats. They’re sometimes called “essential fatty acids” because, quite simply, they are essential to health—you can’t live without them. Yet your body can’t make them. So you either have to get them through your diet or through supplementation.
An abundance of scientific research substantiates the wide-ranging health benefits of omega-3 fats. Some of these benefits include:
- Supporting mental health 1
- Promoting cognitive agility 2
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks 3
- Lowering systemic inflammation 4
Lowering levels of chronic, low-grade inflammation in your body is probably the single most important thing you can do to promote optimal health.
Supplement with Ubiquinol CoQ10The third essential supplement is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), in the ubiquinol (not ubiquinone) form. This one supplement can make such a big difference in your health and well-being that I think every single American adult could benefit from taking it.
What the heck is a coenzyme? Well, “co” means “with” or “together.” And enzymes catalyze all the chemical reactions in your body that sustain life. So coenzymes work together with enzymes to keep you alive.
Coenzyme Q10 specifically works with enzymes inside the mitochondria of your cells to produce energy in the form of ATP—energy your cells need to function. If your CoQ10 levels are low, you won’t just feel tired and drained. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body will suffer because they’re all powered by ATP.
CoQ10 is most well-known for promoting cardiovascular health. And that makes sense when you think about it, because your heart demands more energy than almost any other organ in your body. But CoQ10 has other benefits too. Scores of human clinical trials have shown that CoQ10:
- Is helpful in multiple heart conditions 5
- May slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease 6
- Helps control blood sugar in diabetics 7
- Increases feelings of vigor in healthy folks 8
Probiotic Supplements Replace Healthy Gut BacteriaThe fourth and final essential supplement is a probiotic product. Think about it: Your survival is dependent on your gut’s ability to extract protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals from your food.
When your gut health is compromised, it doesn’t matter how healthy a diet you eat—you won’t be able to access all the nutrition it provides. Not only that, a good portion of your immune system— about 70 percent—is actually located within your GI tract.10
Here’s my point: The makeup of bacteria in your gut influences how well your gut and immune system work. The more healthy bacteria you have, the stronger your immune system and the more efficient your digestive system.
To begin, avoid things that can lower your levels of beneficial bacteria—and make room for the bad guys to multiply—like excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, and eating a typical, toxin-heavy, nutrient-poor American diet.
After that, you’ll have to replace the good bacteria you’ve lost over the years by taking a probiotic product. I suggest a product providing lactobacillus and bifidobacteria with at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFU).
The Bottom LineHealth, first and foremost, begins with a high-quality, ideally dosed multivitamin. Working up, add omega-3 fatty acids, ubiquinol CoQ10, and then probiotics.
These four essential supplements are foundational to your health as they help every cell and tissue throughout your body.
If you’d like to more about them and how they can fit into a personalized and prioritized nutritional regimen, visit www.MySupplementPyramid.com.
- Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2003 Aug;13(4):267–71.
- Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr; 85(4): 1142–7.
- Lancet. 2007 Mar 31; 369(9567):1090–8.
- Life Sciences. 2006; 78(21):2523-6.
- Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb; 97(2):268–75.
- Arch Neurol. 2002;59:1541–1550.
- Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002;56:1137–1142.
- Human Hypertens. 1999;13:203–208.
- Lipids. 1989 Jul;24(7):579–84.
- Am J Physiol. 1999 Nov;277(5 Pt 1):G922–8.
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