So many people today are confused about supplements. Even many doctors, nutritionists, and other health experts are uncertain. Why? Because there’s so much conflicting information in the media.
One day, we’re told that vitamin E is good for us; the next day, we hear it’s dangerous. We’re told that folate is healthy; the next day, it’s deadly. We hear that we should take a multivitamin and a week later... no, we shouldn’t. It’s enough to make you want to throw up your hands in exasperation -- but please don’t.
Supplements are vital to good health
Each of us is a physiological and biochemical organism that requires nutrients in order to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are the essential elements that facilitate every chemical reaction in your body. For example, magnesium and zinc each control over 200 enzymes. Folate is critical for making neurotransmitters, for regulating your DNA, for determining which genes get turned on and off and plays a role in preventing cancer, heart disease, and dementia. These nutrients are vital to good health and proper function.
As a physician, I’ve studied and measured nutrient levels of my patients for decades. When Dr. Oz and I tested his studio audience, we weren’t surprised to find widespread nutritional deficiencies. This fundamental lack of nutrition can create a multitude of symptoms that can often be easily relieved with the right nutrients.
One of the major problems we find is Omega-3 fat deficiency -- an issue that affects about 98 percent of the population. Omega 3 fats are critical for supporting brain function, mood, improving your metabolism, preventing diabetes, reducing inflammation, and more. Because so many of us live and work inside, more than 80 percent of the population has insufficient levels of vitamin D. Because our diet is very low in plant foods and greens, most of us also have low folate levels. Many others are magnesium deficient. Why? Primarily because our diet lacks beans and greens. We also engage in habits that deplete the magnesium in our bodies, like the overconsumption of coffee and alcohol, and living with chronic stress. Low magnesium can lead to muscle cramps, headaches, constipation, palpitations, anxiety, and insomnia. All of these individual deficiencies can create common symptoms that are easily relieved if you just get the right nutrients.
If you answer yes to any of these questions (and these are just a few common symptoms,) you may have a nutritional deficiency that should be investigated.
- Is your skin or hair dry?
- Do you have muscle cramps?
- Do you get colds a lot?
- Are you depressed?
- Are you constipated?
Put in the good stuff
I’m often asked is: “What supplements should we be taking?” The answer is really quite simple. The average person should take the following:
- A good multivitamin that includes vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as all the B vitamins, vitamin K, minerals, and other key nutrients.
- An omega-3 fat supplement, either plant-based or sourced from fish.
- An additional vitamin D supplement.
Some individuals may have additional nutritional needs, but this regimen will provide most people with all the essential raw materials the body needs to function properly.
You wouldn’t put bad fuel in your car, and you don’t want to put bad stuff in your body either. It’s important to use high quality supplements. There is essentially no real regulation of purity, potency, and quality in the manufacture of supplements -- making it hard to know whom to trust. I’ve visited and met with several manufactures and over the years have curated a list of the best products -- the ones I recommend to my own patients -- and made them available.
On drhyman.com, you can also find quizzes that will help you find out if you have nutritional deficiencies. You can also read my free guide "How To Work with Your Doctor To Get What You Need" to learn what tests you should do to determine whether you have these deficiencies. I encourage you to work with a functional medicine doctor who can help you find the right vitamins and supplements for you.
I always like to hear from you... please share your comments below! Tell us what you’ve experienced by taking supplements, what has helped you, what hasn’t, and what you’ve learned. Share this House Call with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up to receive a new one each week, and submit your questions, so that, next week, I may make a House Call to you.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD is a practicing physician, founder of The UltraWellness Center, a six-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in the field of Functional Medicine. You can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, watch his videos on YouTube, become a fan on Facebook, and subscribe to his newsletter.
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