What Vitamin Supplements Should You Be Taking?
Like a top billboard tune or a controversial starlet, vitamins have had their share of media coverage. Many years ago, TIME Magazine devoted almost an entire issue to vitamins and minerals, and health publications here and abroad have sliced and diced the issue. Thanks to widespread coverage, Americans are now one of the more avid consumers of vitamins. The Council for Responsible Nutrition estimates that 150 million Americans today are taking dietary supplements.
The confusion stems from the fact that not only do we have vitamins and minerals to think about, we also have an entire slew of other supplements: Omega-3 (for antioxidants), glucosamine (for healthy joints), Echinacea (to prevent the common cold), Primrose Oil (for menopausal symptoms), whey protein (for building muscles) and many others like aloe vera, ginseng, St. John's Wort, valerian.
You name it, the store's got it!
Go to any natural food store. What do you see? There are colorful labels, attractive bottles, bright or transparent capsules, dried leaves, vanilla or peppermint oils, dehydrated somethings - enough to overwhelm the consumer who's simply looking for a supplement to compensate for his or her deficient diet. Some people are only interested in say, a vitamin or mineral that would counteract the consequences of junk food, while others are looking for a natural remedy for insomnia or for weight loss.
In a special report by Empowered Patient, four health experts were consulted to find out if they're still disciples of vitamins and other natural supplements. Their opinions were sought because of conflicting statements recently about vitamins: one day they're good for you, next day, they offer no value in terms of protecting you from the ravages of disease.
Take vitamins C & E as examples. Just this week a report came out saying that studies conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston led to the conclusion that these vitamins do not protect men from heart disease. The Journal of the American Medical Association also said that vitamin E could in fact provoke bleeding during strokes which can be fatal. The National Cancer Institute did not support the common belief that taking vitamin D regularly would protect women from breast cancer.
What Vitamin Supplements Do Experts Take?
Just when we've stocked up on our natural vitamin supplements, the media are now blasting the horns regarding their "no-value-added" quality. Who can we believe these days?
Enter four experts. Empowered Patient asked Dr. Melina Jampolis, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Walter Willett, and Dr. Christiane Northrup what vitamins and supplements they were taking.
Let's start with Dr. Andrew Weil, famous for many books he has written on health. He is currently Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
Dr. Weil is 66 years old. He does take vitamins and supplements regularly because he believes that our bodies do need vitamins E and C to replenish our supply of antioxidants. Due to the lack of documentation, we should be careful about believing reports that downgrade the value of these vitamins. Dr. Weil, however, recommends that men NOT take iron supplements unless a physician tells them to; men should not also take calcium supplements owing to increased risks of prostate cancer.
Here are the five vitamins and supplements that Dr. Weil takes.
- A multivitamin and multimineral
- Vitamin D. Dr. Weil cautions consumers about which vitamin D to buy: buy vitamin D3 - NOT vitamin D2. A lack of this vitamin can lead to multiple sclerosis, colon cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer.
- Magnesium - people who are deficient in this mineral are susceptible to mood swings, weak muscle coordination and irregular heartbeat.
- Omega 3 - This compound improves cellular functions by helping to make the membrane more flexible. Omega 3 fatty acids are very important for heart health.
- Co-Q10 - another supplement that is ideal for proper cellular functioning. It helps the body naturally produce co-enzyme Q10, an immune-system enhancer and booster.
Dr. Christiane Northrup
Author of The Secret Pleasures of Menopause, 50-year old Dr. Christiane Northrup says that vitamins must be taken in the right proportions. For example, if one is taking folic acid (vitamin B), it's a good idea to take the other B vitamins. She explains, "That's how nutrients occur naturally and how the body best utilizes them."
On what NOT to take: Dr. Northrop says women who are in menopause or are finished with their menopause do not need iron supplements.
Dr. Northrop takes the following:
- Antioxidant supplement
- Fish oil. Studies have shown that fish oil contains omega-3 fats which help lower triglycerides and lower blood pressure. It is also said to help patients recover from depression more quickly.
- Calcium. The idea is to protect oneself from osteoporosis as one gets older.
- Coenzyme Q10
- Vitamin D
Dr. Walter Willet, 63 years old.
Dr. Walter Willet works for the Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition. He does not think that studies about vitamins C & E are definitive; he said that in Women's Health Study, women taking vitamin E showed a significant 24% decrease in deaths caused by cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Willet shares Dr. Weil's opinion that males do not need calcium. Taking more than what they need could raise the risk of prostate cancer.
Dr. Willet takes:
- Vitamin D
Dr. Melina Jampolis (38 years old)
Dr. Jampolis specializes in weight loss and disease prevention. She has her practice in San Francisco, California. Her take? Everyone must take a basic multi-vitamin, she says. She calls it an individual's insurance policy. The best multivitamin we have seen is intraMAX, a powerful liquid vitamin supplement with over 415 nutrients.Dr. Jambolis takes:
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3
These four experts say that you should not stop taking your vitamins and supplements just because of some reports that have come out recently. They all agree that vitamins C & E are essential vitamins and support our antioxidant mechanisms. By taking intraMAX, you can be assured you are getting almost every possible nutrient that can be found in a vitamin supplement.