Our patients often ask us what we recommend for vitamins and supplements to support their adjustments and treatment for their musculoskeletal conditions. To this we often answer: an overall healthy body will be able to heal its health conditions, whether it may be a low back sprain/strain or lacerated finger much quicker than a toxic, sluggish system that is out of balance or one that has poor digestion or inadequate immune system function.
Many feel there is a daunting amount of information, positive claims and even research for a whole host of supplements, but ... we could go broke trying to take all of them. What to do?
Below is a list of the supplements that we feel most people should consider taking on a daily basis to provide better health for their bodies (hopefully) in motion.
1) A good quality multi vitamin and mineral supplement.
The supplement should be "packed" with all major vitamin, minerals and digestive enzymes with amounts far exceeding the "% daily value". Why do we need to take such a supplement? Our US soil content is significantly depleted of the mineral and soil microorganisms compared to the 1930's, AND because of the creation of genetically modified plants which are commonly less nutritious than heirloom plants (Scientific America, April 27, 2011). When "minerals go down, disease goes up" an example, bone deformities are associated with calcium, copper, fluoride and magnesium deficiencies (Nutrition Security Institute, "Human Health, the Nutritional Quality of Harvested Food and Sustainable Farming Systems").
2) Probiotic supplements - A probiotic bacteria complex of several "good flora" bacteria with FOS (fructooligosaccharides), 3-6 capsules/day, Probiotics (and cultured, fermented foods) help to keep our gut or GI system (our intestines) functioning properly via the good bacteria that are in probiotics. The good bacteria helps to crowd out the bad bacteria. Food passing through our GI system can then be properly digested and the nutritional content extracted from the food. Bacteria in the GI tract are responsible for the operation of the mucosal immune system that resides in the GI tract lining (Peyer's Patches). It is said that 70-80% of our immune system stems from our GI tract. This is exactly why we need to keep our gut functioning as optimally as possible.
3) Omega 3 Fatty Acids- in particular, Fish oil or krill oil - 3,000 IU/day. This recommended amount is misleading, however. One must look at the label to see how much Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is in each capsule. EPA and DHA are the compounds in Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are responsible for the positive benefits of fish oil. These include: decreasing the risk of stroke by increasing HDL cholesterol, lowering triglyceride levels, decreasing clot formation. Prevention and improvement of coronary heart disease, improves circulation. It is instrumental in infant brain and eye development, reduces risk of premature birth, helpful with depression, may reduce pain and inflammation in those with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and autoimmune diseases, and decreases joint swelling and inflammation (Colorado State University Extension, No 9.382).
Therefore, if the label reads 1,000 IU of Omega 3 fatty acid but then lists 200 mg of DHA and 300 mg of EPA, one would only receive 500 mg of the active components of the capsule = the capsule is only 50% bioavailable. Some other important considerations are that the supplement is being produced from wild caught fish and heavy metals have been extracted from the oil, enteric coating on the capsule to reduce stomach upset and fish “burping”.
4) Vitamin C - 1,000 to 3,000 mg/day
Vitamin C is one of the safest, least toxic, yet highly effective antioxidant, anti-inflammatory supplement and...it’s cheap! Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a water soluble vitamin and therefore the body is unable to store it. What the body isn’t able to use at any given time, the rest will simply be excreted in the urine. The following benefits are attributed to Vitamin C: lowered blood pressure, decrease plaque build-up in arterial walls, maintains the vascular integrity of the blood vessels, provides protection against cancer, prevents oxidative damage from smoking and decreases inflammation in the body.
5) Vitamin D3 - 1,000-3,000 IU/day
The medical doctors are now all over this vitamin. The northern states residents (Vermont!) are especially at high risk for Vitamin D deficiencies because our sunlight is so weak in the winter time. Vitamin D can be found in a few foods, however approximately 80-90% comes from our skin's absorption of vitamin D. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include general fatigue, muscular and joint aches, frequent illnesses or infections. Those at the highest risk for D deficiencies are: dark skinned people, the elderly, those who stay inside the house and those who cover up completely or use total sunblock when outside. It is simple to get a screening blood test for Vitamin D to determine if you are deficient.
That's it, our list. If you have a particular health issue you are trying to combat, improve or change there are many wonderful supplements and herbal preparations that can help you improve your health. Please consult with your doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist or naturopath for the best supplement for your condition and the recommended amounts.
Here's to a healthier body for every "body" this year!