Vitamins are in the news all the time – get your B vitamins! Buy CoQ10! Don’t overdose on Vitamin A!
Getting nutrients from the foods we eat is the best way and is the way our bodies are designed to get the building blocks we need. It goes without saying that eating potato chips all day and taking the fanciest multivitamin on the market is unhealthy and will lead to all manner of sickness and disease. (Wouldn’t it be nice if it worked, though? A multivitamin in the morning and then donuts all day…)
That said, it’s an unfortunate fact that fruits and vegetables today don’t have the same level of vitamins and minerals that they had 100 or 150 years ago. This is partially because over-farming has depleted the soil of minerals like magnesium and partially because conventional farming practices typically fertilize plants with only nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which leaves vegetables with an unnatural abundance of these compounds to the detriment of other vitamins and minerals. Because of this, we modern folks really do need vitamin supplements. So what should we do?
I want to share my own daily vitamin routine with you today – not as a poster child for what you should do but simply as a starting guide to help you figure out your own routine.
First thing in the morning –
1 probiotic capsule
4 drops Lugol’s iodine
With breakfast –
1 TwinLabs daily multivitamin
1 drop vitamin D (only in winter or dreary weather when I can’t get outside)
With lunch –
2 calcium / magnesium capsules
1 vitamin E mixed tocopherols
1 vitamin C
With dinner –
1 B complex
1 Vitamin C (only if I feel like I’m getting sick or someone else in the house is sick)
Why do I take all that? I’m glad you asked! Let’s go over each one, and I’ll briefly explain the whys and wherefores.
Practically everyone can benefit from a daily probiotic supplement. There is far too much information to go into here, but our digestive systems require a host of beneficial bacteria to properly digest the food we eat. These bacteria even synthesize some vitamins that we need, like vitamin K2. Unfortunately, our poor diets and the use of antibiotics mean that most of us have weak and insufficient beneficial bacteria in our systems.
Right now, I’m taking Dr. Stephen Langer’s Ultimate 16 Strain Probiotic with Trace Minerals & FOS. Whew, that’s a big name! It contains three billion “viable organisms” per dose. The 16 strains of bacteria include nine types of Lactobacillus and five types of Bifidobacterium, along with Lactococcus lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus. That’s a mouthful to say, “It’s good.”
I tend to switch brands of probiotics frequently so that I can get a variety of bacterial strains. I’ve taken both PB 8 Pro-Biotic Acidophilus for Life and Nature’s Way Primadophilus Bifidus in the past. I’m sure I’ll switch back to one of those when I run out of Dr. Langer’s formula.
Lugol’s Solution of Iodine
Many years ago, I realized I had symptoms of a somewhat dysfunctional thyroid, and I began taking supplemental kelp. Kelp is a natural source of iodine, which the thyroid requires for proper functioning. I experienced great results with the brand I was taking, but then I couldn’t find it in stores or on Amazon any more. (Doesn’t that always happen?)
After more research, I discovered Lugol’s Iodine, a liquid combination of iodine and potassium iodide that has been in use since the early 1800s. The iodine and potassium work together to not only support the thyroid, but to also increase the energy in individual cells and restore their proper function. It can be taken orally or applied to the skin. For simplicity, I apply the drops to my inner elbow and rub them in.
Sadly, the vitamin brands sold in grocery stores and most drug stores are filled with synthetic versions of the natural vitamins and minerals. These forms are poorly absorbed by the body, which means that the daily multivitamin you take is just getting flushed down the toilet. After much searching, I found a reasonably-priced daily multivitamin that includes natural (easily-absorbed) forms of all the vitamins that I want to take.
The criteria I sought were all-natural forms of the vitamins and minerals, a capsule (instead of a filler-laden tablet), and a dosage of only one capsule per day. Some multivitamin brands suggest taking 2-3 capsules three times a day, but I’m not doing that! Oh, and I wanted something reasonably priced because $60+ per month on a multivitamin for one person is not happening with our budget.
I compared the ingredient list of various multivitamins with the suggested daily amounts listed in Dr. Mark Stengler’s book The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies. I finally found one that fit the bill, and I’m now taking TwinLab Daily One Caps. It’s missing a few micronutrients recommended by Dr. Stengler (such as boron and vanadium), but I’m living with that for now.
Vitamin D is so important for proper immune function and for keeping a balanced, positive mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and a tendency toward easily catching colds are both associated with low levels of vitamin D in the body.
When it’s too cold or wet to go out in the sunshine, I take a drop of Carlson’s Super Daily D3 in the 2000 IU dosage. Carlson’s liquid is easily absorbed by the body, and it’s quick and tasteless. If you’re already taking a vitamin D supplement, check to make sure it’s the D3 (cholecalciferol) form. Other forms aren’t absorbed well.
Calcium and Magnesium
Both men and women can benefit from supplemental calcium for bone health, to ease and prevent muscle cramps, and even to support circulatory system health. Magnesium is also good for the circulatory system and helps with chronic fatigue, prevents migraines for some people, and is important during pregnancy.
These two minerals need to be taken together in order to be fully absorbed and utilized in the body. A good ratio is 2:1 calcium to magnesium. For example, my supplement has 300 mg calcium and 150 mg magnesium. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium also, but I don’t usually remember to take them together.
I’m currently taking Swanson Calcium Citrate plus Magnesium. Unless I eat a calcium-heavy meal, I take two capsules once a day. It is possible to take too much calcium, which may lead to calcium deposits in your fingernails, kidney stones, or even bone weakening. That’s why I skip the supplement if I’m consuming a lot of calcium in my food.
The B vitamins are needed for a host of actions within the body, too many to talk about here. In brief, adequate amounts of the B vitamins can improve memory, prevent cataracts and migraines, reduce cholesterol levels, decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and even help with morning sickness during pregnancy.
I take Swanson’s Super Stress B-Complex with Vitamin C, which contains the absorbable forms of all the B vitamins in the amounts recommended by Dr. Stengler. I sometimes take an additional dose of sublingual B-12 at bedtime because it can help promote restful sleep.
Vitamin E is needed for circulatory health, healthy skin, a strong immune system, and has even been shown to prevent some types of cancer. There are two important things to know when choosing a vitamin E supplement.
The body needs natural vitamin E, not synthetic. Most drug store brands contain synthetic vitamin E and aren’t worth taking. Check the label: natural vitamin E is called “d-alpha tocopherol.” The synthetic form includes a sneaky little l – dl-alpha tocopherol.
True vitamin E is actually a family of 12 compounds, grouped into tocopherols and tocotrienols. It’s important to take a supplement that includes mixed tocopherols – alpha, beta, delta, and gamma. Taking the alpha form alone can actually end up being harmful to the body. I use Swanson’s Vitamin E Mixed Tocopherols.
A brand that also includes mixed tocotrienols is even better for cholesterol reduction and cancer prevention.
Of all the vitamins, people are probably most familiar with vitamin C. Most known as an immune support, this nutrient is needed for every action of the body’s cells. Without it, people become sick more easily, bruise more easily, and heal more slowly. In extreme cases, scurvy develops and the gums weaken, teeth fall out, and the connective tissue at the joints is destroyed.
I take 500 mg of vitamin C each day to help keep my immune system in top shape and hopefully stave off colds and flu. When my husband or one of our kids is sick, or when I feel like I’m coming down with something, I increase the dosage to 1000-2000 mg a day.
I’ve used Swanson’s Vitamin C with Rose Hips, which are powder-filled capsules (and thus highly absorbable), but when I run out and am not placing an order right away, I use whatever the grocery store has. Right now, I’m taking Spring Valley brand.
So that’s it. That’s my daily regimen of vitamin and mineral supplements. Are there more expensive brands on the market? Of course! Are they better, more absorbable, than what I’m taking? I don’t know.
I don’t believe that high price always equals higher quality. I’ve checked all of the brands I’m using to make sure the vitamin and mineral forms are the ones recommended by natural health experts like Dr. Stengler and Dr. James Balch. I’m confident that the brands I’ve chosen are helping my body to stay healthy.
What vitamins do you take?
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Campbell-McBride, Natasha, MD. GAPS: Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Maple Press, 2010.
Gerson, Charlotte and Morton Walker, D.P.M. The Gerson Therapy: The Proven Nutritional Program for Cancer and Other Illnesses. Kensington Books, 2006.
Stengler, Mark, ND. The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies Medical Doctors Don’t Know. Prentice Hall Press, 2010.
This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is intended only for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure disease. Always consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your healthcare routine.
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