I am often asked about supplementation. Whether I think it’s a good idea? Whether I take them? Should I take a multi-vitamin? And on and on.
I’m all about doing things that will optimise performance – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and to become what I term – SUPERHUMAN. See this blog post for more on my over-arching philosophy: http://harikalymnios.com/the-most-important-blog-post-you-will-ever-read-the-four-keys-to-superhuman-living
General Reflection on Nutrients and Vitamin/Mineral Supplementation
Should we all be taking supplementation? Not necessarily. Ideally, yes we would get all our nutrient needs from food, and I’m the first to suggest FOOD FIRST. It’s called supplementation, not substitution. But there’s a few problems with this ideal.
- Our soil is way less nutritious than it was even 70 years ago. As reported in Scientific American (full article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/ ), our soil has depleted massively. Due to mono-cropping, over-farming, use of harsh pesticides, chemical in the environment and more. An excerpt from the Scientific American article:
“A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century.”
- We are not living natural lives any more. The way nature intended. We aren’t expose to the sun, or the earth (see article on Earthing: http://harikalymnios.com/book-of-the-month-the-most-important-health-discovery-ever). We have more stresses in our lives – from emails, commuting, smart phones, EMF’s, harsh chemicals in shampoos and other toiletries, chemicals in the atmosphere from pollution, poor (although “non-lethal”) municipal water supplies, and on and on. All of these things deplete our ability to use and maintain the nutrients we get into the system.
If we were living a normal “natural” lifestyle, then yet, it would be possible to thrive without supplements.
Different people may require different supplements as different stages of life too. And we don’t necessarily need a multi-vitamin, as you won’t need to take everything.
That said, please DO NOT take this as any form of medical advice. You’re a grown up, aren’t you? Please seek the council of a trusted expert to give you personalised advice. The information in this blog article, is to raise your awareness as to what I personally (and currently take – it may change), and why you might want to consider what you do.
It’s also worth getting comprehensive blood work done to see if you are deficient in anything. Do some research though, as some traditional tests might not be as reliable as your primary care physician (or GP) thinks.
I would also really look at your supplements. I wouldn’t just buy any brand, from a high street shop. Make sure they are not synthetic (i.e. they come from whole food sources when appropriate to the supplement), don’t have things like fillers and bulking agents. Are non-GMO, free from wheat, gluten, dairy and preservatives.
First up is Vitamin D3. It’s the sunshine vitamin, as we would normally get it by being exposed to the sun. Trouble is most people (including those living in hotter countries) live their lives indoors. And when we are outdoors, we have been conditioned to rub toxic sun screens on ourselves. We need 20 – 40 minutes (depending on skin tone) of direct sunlight a day. During the hours of 10am – 2pm, or when the sun is strong. We also need sunlight to help with the immune system, which is why it’s better to get the sunlight from nature.
That being said, we can’t do that. I’ve read that you can store your Vitamin D from the summer months, but I’ve also read the opposite. My advice is to take a Vitamin D3 supplement (there are other forms of vitamin D, e.g. D2, but the majority of the studies have been done on D3). Typically D3 is from animals, although I take a plant-based Vitamin D3. Currently it’s this one: http://amzn.to/2oXQUGf
Also, to note Vitamin D it isn’t actually a vitamin at all but a potent neuroregulatory steroidal hormone that influences nearly 3,000 of your 25,000 genes.
Why we need Vitamin D
Vitamin D is crucial for our bones. If you just take calcium for bones, it won’t be absorbed properly without this vitamin. Calcium also needs, vitamin K2 (although this should be accessible from foods).
So, adequate vitamin D intake is important for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus absorption, maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, and is suggested to supply a protective effect against multiple diseases and conditions such as cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:
- Reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
- Decreasing your chance of developing heart disease, according to 2008 findings published in Circulation
- Helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu, according to 2010 research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
In addition, research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms. In another study of people with fibromyalgia, researchers found vitamin D deficiency was more common in those who were also experiencing anxiety and depression.
So in summary, Vitamin D is super important for health. We don’t get enough of it. And it can influence tons of conditions, including.
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Diabetes 1 and 2
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Cold & Flu
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Signs of ageing
- Eczema & Psoriasis
- Hearing loss
- Muscle pain
- Periodontal disease
- Macular degeneration
- Reduced C-section risk
- Pre eclampsia
- Cystic fibrosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
How much you should take is a matter of much debate, but most consensus I’ve seen seems to be around the 4000 IU (International Units) mark, so that’s what I take from these tiny pills.
The next vital vitamin I take is Vitamin B12. It’s vital to having enough energy, and very low B12 intakes can cause anaemia and nervous system damage. If you are plant-based, as I am, (i.e. don’t eat animals or animal products), then you won’t really be getting Vitamin B12 in.
Sure, there is some in fortified foods, nutritional yeast and some algae like spirulina (although I’m not 100% sure on the human bioavailability of this).Two varieties of edible algae (Dried green (Enteromorpha sp.) and purple (Porphyra sp.) seaweed (nori)) have been found to have active B12, but other algae have inactive B12-analog compounds that have no apparent benefit in animal metabolism. Some varieties of mushrooms and some foods made with certain fermentation processes have very small amounts of active B12.
Supplementation is cheap and easy. Taking fortified foods is an unreliable option in my opinion, as you’ll have to really be “on it” to ensure you get adequate amounts each day.
I simply take a supplement that I place under my tongue (sublingually) and dissolves. I do this once or twice a week. It’s recommended (if taking B12 weekly) that you take at least 2,500mcg a week. I take 5,000mcg twice a week. You can’t really take too much as it’s just excreted in urine, being a water soluble vitamin. If you take something daily, then 250mcg per day. Even though the maths doesn’t add up, it’s due to how it’s absorbed (https://nutritionfacts.org/video/daily-source-of-vitamin-b12/.
For more on B12 (and other science backed nutritional information), check out: https://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-is-the-best-way-to-get-b12/
And as a side note, because it’s often the “Elephant in the room” when it comes to strict plant-based diets, how can we eat only plant-based if there are deficiencies. A few responses to that.
1) B12 isn’t made by animals (or plants) in fact. It’s made by certain bacteria, some of which line the guts of certain animals. Humans also make B12 in our colon, but it’s too far downstream to be utilised.
2) So aren’t we meant to eat animals? It’s likely that the B12 conundrum has a valid point here. We may have evolved (millions of years ago) from plant-based animals (into humans) to ones who, to survive, started to eat animals, insects, bugs etc. This might have changed our physiology. Who knows for sure? The fact is though, that just because we have adapted to eat animals, does it mean we should? Technology has advanced so we don’t live in caves any more, wait months for a message from our family, or certain diseases like Polio aren’t much of a problem. With our ability to get all we need without the need to kill animals, why not? If you have a problem with taking B12, then think about what other modern creations you would be happy to relinquish? iPhone, car, house, bed, beer, etc. We evolve – it’s what being human is about. We can adopt, adapt or avoid new advances, but they are still there.
3) Being on a whole foods plant-based eating protocol typically has (save for B12) more nutrients in it than any other diet – especially the standard Western diet. You are more likely to be deficient in more vitamins and minerals being on the standard Western diet, than a plant-based diet due to low vegetable consumption and other factors.
4) As we age, even animal eaters lose the ability to produce and absorb B12, and people over the age of 50 should be supplementing with it anyway. In fact, in the US Farmington Offspring Study, 1 in 6 animal eaters, between 26 – 83 years old, were B12 deficient.
There is some research out there showing that humans can reabsorb the B12 that is produced, and that deficiencies might take years to show up. My advice, especially if vegan/plant-based, is to supplement.
This is the one I currently use. http://amzn.to/2pLkUrB
I’ve recently started taking a B-Complex too with lots of B vitamins. I’ve only been doing this for a couple of months. I consume about 15 – 25 portions of vegetables a day, so chances I’m deficient in many vitamins and minerals is low these days. That being said, B vitamins are pretty important (and cheap). This is what I take right now: http://amzn.to/2pltNZk
As with B12, B vitamins are water soluble and excreted if too much is taken.
These essential nutrients help convert our food into fuel, allowing us to stay energised throughout the day. While many of the B vitamins work in tandem, each has its own specific benefits — from promoting healthy skin and hair to preventing memory loss or migraines.
In addition, many people take a B complex vitamin to increase energy, support brain health, enhance mood, improve memory, ease stress, stimulate the immune system, and boost hair and skin health.
It is also said to enhance heart health, alleviate anxiety, and soothe skin disorders.
Each B vitamin is essential to certain bodily functions:
- B1 and B2 are important for healthy functioning of the muscles, nerves, and heart.
- B1 helps the body make new cells. May help prevent kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of cataracts.
- B2 is important for red blood cell production and fighting free radicals. May prevent migraines.
- B3 helps regulate the nervous and digestive systems and helps convert food into energy. May boost HDL cholesterol and lower cholesterol levels.
- B5 breaks down fats and carbohydrates for energy and is responsible for the production of hormones.
- B5 and B12 are required for normal growth and development
- B6 supports the immune system, helps the body produce hormones, and aids the body in breaking down protein. Also helps to regulate levels of the amino acid homocysteine (an amino acid thought to contribute to heart disease when it occurs at elevated levels). May protect against heart disease, relieve PMS symptoms, and alleviate pregnancy-related nausea
- B7 is involved in the production of hormones. Is associated with healthy skin, hair, and nails.
- B9 helps cells make and maintain DNA and promotes the growth of red blood cells. Also help to regulate levels of the amino acid homocysteine. May help prevent breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer, as well as decrease risk of birth defects when taken by pregnant women
- B12 helps regulate the nervous system and plays a role in red blood cell formation. Also help to regulate levels of the amino acid homocysteine. May prevent confusion in older adults and reduce levels of homocysteine.
Some good reasons to make sure you’re getting enough in!
Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. There are actually 10 times as many bacteria cells in your body than human cells!
Historically, we had plenty of probiotics in our diets from eating fresh foods from good soil and by fermenting our foods to keep them from spoiling. However, because of refrigeration and dangerous agricultural practices like soaking our foods with chlorine, our food contains little to no probiotics today, and most foods actually contain dangerous antibiotics that kill off the good bacteria in our bodies.
Not to mention that if you eat animals, there’s a good chance (regardless of whether they were sick or not) they were fed antibiotics. Why? Because farmers have known since the 1970’s that feeding antibiotics to animals helps them gain weight. If you have problems with your weight, maybe it’s due to that?
Study on the gut – our micro-biome is a new-ish focus in nutrition science and medicine, but it’s likely in the next 5 years you’ll hear a lot more about it on mainstream media. It’s thought that what happens in your gut could be responsible for a whole host of things, from your mood, ability to gain/lose weight, your immune system (80% of your immune system is located in your gut) and dozens of other bodily functions.
Why are our micro-biomes so bad?
Well, we have too many antibiotics prevalent in our world. Antibiotic literally means anti life. It’s like taking a neutron bomb to the Amazon forest and blowing out up, and then not even planting any new trees (which would be our probiotics in this metaphor). The micro-biome is like our own little rain forest in our stomachs. With 500 – 2000 species of microorginisms in there. And as mentioned 10x more microbes than human cells. These microbes actually have 360x more protein coding DNA than we do!
It has been found that probiotics have an anti-inflammatory potential and can:
•boost immune system.
•prevent and treat urinary tract infections.
•improve digestive function.
•heal inflammatory bowel conditions like IBS
•manage and prevent eczema in children.
•fight food-borne illnesses.
Many people with health issues, such as thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, autism and many other conditions don’t realise that these illnesses originate in the gut.
More than 40 diseases have been linked to bacterial imbalance. Including depression, arthritis, IBS and cancer.
By adding more probiotic foods into your diet, you could see all of the following probiotics benefits:
•Stronger immune system
•Increased energy from production of vitamin B12
•Better breath because probiotics destroy candida
•Healthier skin, since probiotics naturally treat eczema and psoriasis
•Reduced cold and flu
•Healing from leaky gut syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease
New studies underway may soon prove that probiotics can:
•reduce flu and colds
•reduce overuse of antibiotics
•treat kidney stones
•prevent cavities and gum disease
•treat colitis and Crohn’s disease
•combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria
•treat liver disease
•fight bacteria that causes ulcers
Here are the top seven probiotic killers that can prevent your body from getting all the tremendous probiotics benefits it needs:
1- Prescription antibiotics
3- Tap water
4- GMO foods
6- Emotional stress
7- Chemicals and medications
It’s probably a good idea to try and get your probiotics from fermented food when possible like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, Coconut kefir, Natto, Miso. I do buy sauerkraut when I remember but to cover my bases I take a supplement.
I take one with 10 strains (rather than just one or two like many probiotic supplements), and 50 billion viable cells. Some probiotics will have significantly less. It’s probably a good idea to rotate through different strands and brands, and maybe cycle on/off taking them from time to time.
This is what I currently am on. http://amzn.to/2oYq80x
This mineral is responsible for 325 bio-reactions in your body (that we know of). In other words, a deficiency in magnesium (as 80% or more people are) means your body can’t do well, or at all, 325 processes that it needs to, to make your body function well.
The recommended daily magnesium intake for adults is 420mg for men and 320mg for women. Magnesium deficiency is often misdiagnosed because it does not show up in blood tests as only 1% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the blood.
Why are we so deficient?
Well, with more stress in our life, more magnesium is used up. It’s like a buffer to stress. The blood needs magnesium to be constant to supply co-factors for enzymatic reactions.
Why isn’t it in food? Well, the usual really. Agro-business, mono-cropping, soil depletion. We need to consume needs more green and chlorophyll rich foods.
Our cardiovascular system, digestive system, nervous system, muscles, kidneys, liver, hormone-secreting glands and brain all rely on magnesium to accomplish even the most basic tasks.
And scientists believe it may play an important role in preventing or treating dozens of health conditions including asthma, autism, heart disease, eclampsia, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, PMS and lupus. Nervous system. Heart rate, blood pressure, brain function.
It’s so important that the body will get magnesium from bones, tissues etc to find it and use it in more important places.
Magnesium also assists digestion, relives tensions, it’s an anti-stress mineral It relaxes nerves, activates enzymes important for protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
Magnesium is needed for the production and transfer of energy. It modulates electrical impulses across cell membranes. Calcium/magnesium balance is needed for bone health. Calcium will leach out bones if there isn’t a proper balance.
It’s also needed for muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve conduction and keeping vertebrae in proper position.
And it’s super useful for great sleep and recovering from muscle soreness from exercise. I use it every night before going to bed.
You can take an Epsom salt (Magnesium salt) bath which is a great way to consume it. I normally just have a topical spray as don’t often get round to having a bath.
It’s the most effective way of getting in to the system as otherwise the kidneys will filter 90% of it and it can cause stress to the kidneys if taken orally. It may also create digestive distress when taken orally. Also, when done topically or transdermally, you can spray directly to affected areas, if using to treat soreness.
This is the brand I currently get http://amzn.to/2oR6QvC although someone who’s health opinion I really value, Shawn Stephenson from The Model Health Show, recommends this brand (but can’t get in the UK): http://easemagnesium.com/model/
The next one I take is an Omega-3 supplement. So much data on the benefits of taking it. Traditionally we think of fish for omega-3, but there are many issues with fish. Not least of which is the high levels of mercury in most fish. If you are depending on fish, get the smaller ones, and ideally wild, and line caught.
But the fish get the omega-3 from algae, so why not by-pass the middle-man (and the mercury) and go straight to the source.
You can (if you are plant-based) get Omega-3 from nuts and seeds, but it’s the ALA form (alpha linolenic acid). And although currently the only “essential” one is ALA, with the others being EPA ( eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), more research and importance is being placed on EPA and DHA.
Your body can convert ALA (from the nuts and seeds) to EPA and DHA but not very effectively in most people. Human conversion of ALA into EPA ranges from 8% to 20%. Conversion of ALA to DHA ranges from 1% to 9%.
Why do we need Omega-3?
It’s needed for brain development, healthy bones and joints and also the prevention of heart disease. In addition:
- Blood fat (triglycerides). Fish oil supplements can lower elevated triglyceride levels.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil supplements (EPA+DHA) can curb stiffness and joint pain.
- Reduces depression and anxiety
- Supports baby development
- Improves issues around asthma
- Helps with ADHD
- Can help with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Needed for eye health
- It fights inflammation
- Helps with autoimmune diseases
- Possible cancer risk reduction
- Improves sleep
- Improves Skin
This is the brand I currently take (also has small amount of Vitamin D3 in it), and is plant-based: http://amzn.to/2oxmGbn
Grapefruit seed extract
Lastly I take, as 12 drops into my daily cold-pressed vegetable juice, Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). It is a substance derived from the seeds, membranes, and the pulp of grapefruit. And it’s used as a broad-spectrum, non-toxic, antimicrobial product. It is known to be highly effective for fighting infection and promoting health. GSE is used as a purifier, antiseptic, and preservative.
I started taking it when someone I once knew mentioned she never got colds since taking it. Was a good enough reason for me. Despite the fact I was already pretty good against catching colds – probably the 15-25 portions of veg, and following The Leadership B.E.A.T. Model principles that help – I started taking. I don’t remember the last time I had a typical cold.
It can be useful for fighting candida (yeast) overgrowth (affects most people). Candidiasis, commonly referred to as “candida,” is a fungal infection that can affect men and women of all ages in various parts of the body. It most commonly occurs in the mouth, ears, nose, toenails, fingernails, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. A Polish study published in 2001 found that a 33 percent grapefruit extract has a potent anti-fungal effect against Candida albicans strains taken from patients with candida symptoms. GSE’s anti-fungal properties help it combat candida infestations by killing the yeast cells that have taken over in the body.
Grapefruit seed extract also is used as a general antimicrobial. Benefits can be experienced when it’s taken by mouth for bacterial, viral and fungal infections, including yeast infections.
This is the current one I take: http://amzn.to/2pLFx74 I just put into juice. Pretty strong otherwise if you put in water.
So that seems like a lot, but I think most people reading this as a minimum should be on Vitamin D and Magnesium. Most likely also a good probiotic and Omega-3 too. The B vitamins might be less essential for some, as too the Grapefruit Seed Extract.
Depending on individual circumstances you might have other needs like Iron, Zinc, Selenium, amino acids or any number of factors.
Without getting tests on absolutely everything, it’s hard to know. My recommendations above come from understanding that most people will have Vitamin D and Magnesium deficiencies, as well as some level of poor gut bacteria, and too high amount of Omega 6 & 9 and not enough 3.
As ever, you decide. But don’t be so proud to think you should get all your needs from food to close your eyes to supplementation. Yes, you should get it all from food. You should also play in the dirt, walk barefoot, get lots of sunlight, sleep when the sun sleeps, and rise when it rises. You should not be using artificial light, or be hooked onto smartphones. There’s a lot we should be doing and shouldn’t be do. But see the world, and your life, as it is. Keep an open mind. Experiment and test. Measure and track. Then you can see for yourself.
What do you think? Do you take supplements? What, if anything, will you do differently having read this?
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