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March 27, 2016


I came home one day and sat down and wrote this after a patient was told by her primary care doctor that her supplements were “not necessary and was like flushing money down the toilet.” I think that this article must have crossed his desk. New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers


So what do we do about vitamins and supplements? Eat a balanced diet and you receive all the vitamins you need. That is what we hear from conventional medicine. The main reason supplements need to be considered is that the real world contains processed products and foods grown in mineral deficient conditions or perhaps contaminated with toxins. How many times have you seen on the label “fortified with such and such vitamins.”  It is a travesty when the natural is taken out and synthetics may be the replacement in processed food. Next, look what is done with medications. Cholesterol blood levels go up. No thought is given to suboptimal hormone levels or lack of vitamin D raising cholesterol. Cholesterol pills are thrown at numbers. The numbers look better and everyone is happy. However, the body does not necessarily function any better. Supplement philosophy can sometimes be much the same. However, there are no magic bullets for quality longevity. When individuals respond quickly to a particular supplement they are most likely so deficient in that area that they recognize an immediate difference. Everything is in a balance. We are talking about a human machine. You balance the machine and it will run optimally at any age. One question I ask–at age 35 did you need a cholesterol pill? Then why now?  Many times patients will ask what supplement or herb they should take for a certain condition. That is the wrong approach. We should be asking what is wrong with the balance of the ”machine.” A roadmap needs to be developed to look at the overall picture. The usual annual physical will tell us if there is anything bad going on. How about improving the state of current health? That requires further testing which can include:

  • Comprehensive nutrition consultation
  • Comprehensive exercise assessment
  • Comprehensive lab panel
  • Resting assessments (heart rate, blood pressure, height, weight)
  • CIMT (ultrasound which measures carotid intima-media thickness)
  • Muscular endurance testing
  • VO2 test
  • Cognitive exam
  • Physical exam
  • Open-ended physician consultation

Time spent with the physician is important and for me many times three hours face to face is common on the first visit. Note that many of these are physiologic or function tests to provide us with basic information. The key is to determine at what level your human machine is functioning. When complete data to develop a roadmap has been gathered then guidelines can be given as far as the supplement portion of the game plan. Following the Paleo concept, it is always beneficial to eat fresh seasonal produce that has not been shipped long-distance and stored. Frozen is the next best choice. With a proper diet then some vitamins or supplements may be needed only a few days a week. It all depends on what the diet provides. No boxes, packages, or cans. Bottled drinks have tons of sugar. Watch labels. This Is The Biggest Lie In The “Health” Food Industry Essential vitamins are those needed from food sources since they are not made in our bodies. This includes vitamin A, C, D, E, K, and B vitamins (did you know that dogs make their own vitamin C?). A combination of meat, dairy, and fresh fruits and vegetables will give us this variety of nutrients. So what do we truly need? This may vary depending on a person’s lifestyle. If supplements are recommended look at their source (grass fed dairy, wild fish, and plant sources are good and if you can guarantee organic even better), processing (anything that uses heat may degrade enzymes and lessens nutritional value), and finally shipping (conservation of produce over long distances may involve the addition of chemicals and preservatives besides the loss of nutrients associated with storage over a period of time). Again, the label “fortified with such and such vitamins” is a warning sign. There is a difference between natural and non-heat processed (fermented is always good) products and those that have been chemically synthesized in the laboratory. I have talked before about isomers (mirror images of a three-dimensional molecule). Many synthetic substitutes may be isomers and not recognized as a true nutrient by the body. Even subtle differences can mean that on paper what is recommended is done but the body does not assimilate things properly. Another example of environmental factors affecting nutrition is the common medication (purple pill) for GERD (acid reflux). This alters the acid balance in the stomach therefore, many nutrients may not be digested and absorbed properly. So keep in mind the overall picture before focusing on individual supplements. The roadmap will be developed differently for each person. If I was marooned on a desert island, I would want (besides any hormone optimization) to bring vitamin C, vitamin D, a fermented Korean ginseng, CoQ10, DHEA/pregnenolone, and melatonin. Let me share with you a short video sent to me by one of my patients. It is good for a smile but it also dates us. We become our parents–maybe I am getting closer to my grandparents by now! Only those of us over 50 would probably recognize the people in the front row (Speaker of the House, President and Senate Majority Leader).


Posted in Blog by jbosiljevac

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