If you live on modern industrialized crap that masquerades as food, you are nutritionally deficient. The trick is figuring out what your greatest deficiencies are, then taking supplements to fill the gaps. That’s not easy to do. Here are a couple of suggestions for simplifying your choices.
First off, your nutritional needs depend on hundreds of factors. Diet is just one of them. The only certainty is that if you have any health issues at all, or are taking any kind of medications, then your nutritional status is out of whack.
In that case, the best two strategies for deciding what you need are:
- Take supplements that address the most likely deficiencies that you have based on population surveys.
- Get tested to find out what your status is for the most common core nutrients.
This article addresses the first strategy. The second strategy is complicated enough to deserve its own article, to appear in a future post on this blog.
Some Important Generalizations
- Typically you hit a health peak at around age 25. That is when your ability to withstand daily onslaughts from poor lifestyle choices begins to diminish. You may start to notice a small trickle of health challenges. At some point poor nutrition catches up to you and one or more Diseases of Civilization begin to appear.
- If you end up taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, then your nutritional status will deteriorate more rapidly. So will your health. Drugs prevent true healing. Nutrients enable it.
- The number one priority for a long, healthy life is taking care of your mitochondria. This is absolutely crucial. Take a look at this earlier post that goes into more detail on what this means and what you should be doing for good mitochondrial health: Live Long And Prosper With Healthy Mitochondria.
- If you maintain a good redox state, nutritional deficiencies will not be so detrimental. All of the advice in this earlier post about maintaining a good redox state in the face of environmental toxins also applies to nutritional deficiencies: How to Overcome Environmental Toxins.
You can bet your bottom dollar that you are deficient in one or more vitamins and minerals. Addressing the main ones, as follows, will fill in the most common gaps.
1. All Vitamins
Vitamin-poor living is typical across the board in modern times. Only 13 substances are classified as vitamins. All of them are important enough, and yet lacking in foods, that supplementing with a multivitamin is crucial for avoiding vitamin deficiencies.
Selecting a good multivitamin can be challenging. They range from the bottom of the heap (e.g., One a Day, Centrum, etc.) to the top (e.g., my personal choice, Nutrient 950 by Pure Encapsulations). The main differences between low-end and high-end multivitamins are ingredient dosages and fillers/additives.
Dosages should meet or exceed the government-defined Recommended Daily Value (RDA) for each vitamin. Additives such as food dyes, preservatives, sweeteners, etc., have no place in nutrition.
This earlier post provides some shocking details about commercial multivitamins: Multivitamins – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. The lesson therein is a common one: You get what you pay for.
Heads Up About B Vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins may wash through you quickly. The old adage about “expensive urine” is part of a disinformation campaign to undermine the importance of regular supplementation with a B complex product. You must choose wisely though. One of the biggest drawbacks to a B complex supplement is the inclusion of folic acid instead of folate. Look for 5-MTHF, which is the active, tissue-ready form of folate. Folic acid is not only not tissue-active, it inhibits the action of folate.
THE SPECIAL CASE OF VITAMIN D. Vitamin D is more correctly classified as a protohormone, not a vitamin. This is because it is a signaling molecule that your body makes and transports everywhere it is needed. Deficiency in your body’s natural form of vitamin D underlies many of the worst diseases of modern times. Just one of these is cancer, particularly breast, prostate, and colon. This earlier post explains what you should know vitamin D deficiency and what to do about it: Breast Cancer Awareness Failure. Comments there about breast cancer apply equally to prostate and colon cancer.
2. Major Minerals
Our bodies depend on a vast array of minerals. Some are “major” because we need them in larger quantities than the “minor” ones. The two most common deficiencies of major minerals are iodine and magnesium. Others may include potassium and iron, depending on your intake and usages.
The most important major mineral deficiency worldwide is iodine. It has the greatest negative impact on your health when you are deficient in it and the greatest breadth of benefits when you are not. Whole books have been written about it. The most important details that you should know about it are outlined here: Most Important Mineral For Optimal Health.
Iodine deficiency is not only driven by low intake. It is also driven by competing halogens that undermine its effectiveness. The competing halogens are fluoride, chlorine, and bromine. In addition to supplementing with iodine, reducing your consumption of these toxins is helpful for overcoming iodine deficiency.
A critical fact to keep in mind about iodine supplementation is that it must be accompanied by selenium (e.g., in form of selenomethionine). Taking iodine without selenium can do more harm than good.
More than half of the U.S. population is deficient in magnesium. This deficiency is behind dozens of health problems (Wikipedia). Low dietary intake is just one cause. Drugs that treat GERD and stomach acid also reduce magnesium levels (see: FDA Drug Safety Communication: Low magnesium levels can be associated with long-term use of Proton Pump Inhibitor drugs (PPIs). Magnesium supplementation may or may not overcome such induced deficiency.
You have probably already noticed that most multivitamin supplements also include multiminerals. This is the case with the Nutrient 950 that I take. In addition to the minerals in Nutrient 950, I still add additional of iodine, selenium, zinc, and potassium.
By the way, if you are wondering why calcium is not on my list, then you should know that supplementing with calcium is less than effective. Your readily available internal repository of calcium (i.e., bones) provides all the calcium you need. Whether you benefit from it depends on how your body metabolizes calcium.
If, for example, you are taking calcium supplements for bone health, then you should be aware of how useless such supplements can be. See what I mean in this post: Why Taking More Calcium Is Not The Best Osteoporosis Treatment.
3. Minor Minerals
Minor – or trace – minerals are equally important to the major ones, just at much lower dosages. Fortunately, there is generally no need to add separate supplements of boron, silicon, cobalt, chromium, copper, molybdenum, vanadium, or any other individual trace mineral. Supplements derived from natural salt deposits provide just about all that you need.
One of the most robust sets of minor (and some major) minerals from natural salt deposits come from the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The one that I take is manufactured by Trace Minerals Research.
Beyond the Basics
Your nutritional status, and actually everything about your health, completely depends on the health of your GI tract and of your mitochondria.
1. Gut Health
What you eat can ruin your gut. One of the first kinds of damage is to the 40 trillion or so microbial cells that make your gut work properly. When they are out of balance, the simplest strategy for restoring their health – and yours – is to consume probiotic bacteria.
You no longer have to make or buy foods containing live cultures. Besides, they are generally deficient for complete recovery of your gut anyway. Many supplement manufacturers now offer probiotic supplements that do nicely for gut health.
Of all the products that are available, the best ones fulfill two key criteria:
- Daily dose of at least 50 billion CFUs (colony-forming units)
- At least 10-12 different species of bacteria
You can find excellent products online that meet these two criteria.
2. Mitochondrial Health
Two supplements are especially valuable for promoting mitochondrial health. They are PQQ and CoQ10 (i.e., ubiquinol). The earlier post on mitochondrial health (linked here) explains why they are so valuable and the dosages that you need for optimizing mitochondrial health.
As I said earlier, your nutritional status – and need for supplements – is influenced by hundreds of factors. This article points to the most common needs that everyone has.
EMPHASIS: As such, the recommendations here are good starting points.
Once you get started, you have to pay attention to how your body is changing and you have to be persistent in providing it with the best supplementation that you might need at any one time.
All the best in natural health,
John Williams says
>The competing halogens are fluoride…
I swear, the more I learn about fluoride, the more I hate it and the more I hate that we’re more or less formed to consume it. I wish reverse osmosis filters weren’t so expensive…
Dr. Dennis Clark says
Hi, John…I’m with you on that one. I do have RO filtering for my drinking water, despite its expense. It is still cheaper than bottled water. Oh, to have a cold spring nearby!
All the best,
I like the sound of these. I detest taking tables, yet chewy candies I’d have no issue with. Happy to hear they have helped your nails. My nails aren’t the best right now, I believe it’s all the hand washing from changing nappies and I’ve endured a ton of baby blues balding.
Dr. Dennis Clark says
Thanks for the note, Melissa. I like your website and, if I already didn’t have a professional multivitamin, I’d consider the Garden of Life product for men you talk about there. The only change I’d make in the ingredients is a switch from folic acid to folate (specifically 5-MTHF). It’s a much more active B9 ingredient than the free acid.
By thw way, have you tested or seen any change to your nails (and hair) from upping your B-complex intake?