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Why Take Supplements? “The wise healer uses that which works, is safe, and based on good science.” Dr. Mark Houston “I think of supplements like clothes- they are not strictly natural, although they are made of natural ingredients. They don’t have any downsides if used properly (as opposed to medications), and as every year passes, have more and more proven benefits.” Patrick Holford, nutritionist “I like to think of supplements as a technology, a kind of modern-day delivery system for nutrients. The more we know about the diseases of aging, the more we understand how specific nutrients can help.” Jonny Bowden, nutritionist “I believe strongly in nutritional supplementation. I take them in the morning and in the night. When I take supplements I feel good, when I don’t take them I feel like crap. So I take my supplements every day. My belief is that going without them is like going without water. I couldn’t be the athlete I am today without them.” Tony Horton, fitness expert and creator of P90X “Yes I take vitamins every day, protein shakes, and protein bars to help me get in high quality proteins when I’m pressed for time.” Tom Brady, professional football player Countless studies and emerging research has demonstrated the benefits of appropriate supplements or vitamins in improving one’s health. Even doctors from Harvard in the conservative health journal JAMA, acknowledged the benefits of multivitamins for prevention of chronic disease. According to many leading experts, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that these nutrients are essential helpers for our biochemistry and the oil that greases the wheels of our metabolism. They have even become a staple in many physician’s practices- cardiologists prescribe fish oil, ophthalmologists use eye vitamins, gastroenterologists have found probiotics beneficial, obstetricians have been recommending prenatal vitamins for many years, and emergency room doctors use the amino acid NAC (N acetyl cysteine) to treat Tylenol-induced liver failure. The metabolism expert, James LaValle R.Ph, CCN stresses the importance of counseling patients on the use of supplements because nutritional approaches and lifestyle changes alone aren’t always enough to address health problems at hand. The challenge for us as a society is that we are all to some degree deficient in key nutrients. Why? • Nutritional needs have changed as we evolved from hunter-gathers and peasant-farmers to highly technical societies dependent on artificial food processing. • Our ancestors ate real food but we moderns specialize in minimum wage nutrition. • Processed foods have no nutrients or worse yet, act like anti-nutrients-further depleting our needs. • Industrial farming has led to depleted soils. • Our unbalanced lives create further deterioration from an abundance of chronic stress, disease, and medication use. • The explosion of environmental toxins and pollutants often results in stressors to our biochemistry. • Exercise regularly taxes our metabolic system and creates imbalances. This has all lead to marked deficiencies of our population with the most common effected nutrients being: omega 3 fats, vitamin D, B vitamins (especially B6, B12, and folate), magnesium, and zinc. According to Dr. Mark Hyman the potential problems with most supplements include: • The form of the nutrient may be cheap and poorly absorbed or used by the body. • The dosage on the label may not match the dose in the pill. • It may be filled with additives, colors, fillers, or allergens. • The raw materials may not be tested for toxins such as mercury or lead, or may not be consistent from batch to batch. • The factory in which it is produced doesn’t follow good manufacturing standards, so products may vary greatly in quality This can be seen in some of the most popular brands such as Centrum (owned by Pfizer) and One a Day vitamins (owned by Bayer). These products are made with cheap additives and fillers and produced by pharmaceutical companies with no experience in quality supplements but rather bent on keeping costs low for maximum profits. Furthermore, popular retailers like GNC are not much better-their poor manufacturing standards were exposed on “60 minutes”. Don’t fall in the trap of the uneducated media who reflexively report negative supplement studies produced by faulty science. There is a growing body of significant studies demonstrating their importance. It is inappropriate to treat a supplement like a drug; one cheap supplement will not produce significant results and thus will be labeled a failure. Nutrients such as antioxidants and minerals often work better in combinations. Furthermore, they often make medicines work better as was shown when the addition of fish oil added to the heart disease reduction of cholesterol medicines known as statins. How best to get them? There has been an explosion of health stores and supermarkets that offer solid products. Organizations, such as consumer labs regularly test products to provide patients with essential comparisons. However, the most regulated and exacting products are made by companies that sell only to physicians and health care professionals such as nutritionists, chiropractors, and naturopaths. Companies such as Designs for Health, Pure Encapsulations, Xymogen, Thorne, and Metagenics to name but a few; manufacture their products on site, use sophisticated technologies for quality control, use innovative nutrients, and adhere to the highest of standards as established by cGMPs (current Good Manufacturing Practices). I make these available to my patients as do many forward thinking health care providers. They are not inexpensive but remember you usually get what you pay for. As Warren Buffett is fond of saying, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” The cost of thriving vs. just surviving is not measurable in dollars and cents. Don’t be misled by the “flat earthers” who think vitamins are only good for expensive urine (as an aside, the majority of medications and drugs are excreted through the urine). Such limited thinking is not becoming of high performing individuals who desire to achieve optimal health. Supplements play an integral supportive role in my practice and allow me to achieve excellent results. My family and I use them regularly and I believe in them wholeheartedly. Unless you live on a Greek Island where you climb unpolluted mountains daily, eat local clean fish and produce, get quality sun, and live a stress-free existence; your body will be depleted and in need of support. Adding appropriate supplements to a clean diet, a purposeful exercise program, and calming mind-body work is the foundation of wellness and healthy aging.

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