I have been asked to list the five supplements that I would take if I were limited to five only. Of course, I do, in fact, take more than five, which you can see on the Daily Program page, which are the supplements I take. But, I realize that there are people who are unable or unwilling to take as many, and not just for financial reasons, but because they have an aversion to it. And it’s the same for me: there is a limit to how much I can spend, and a limit to how much I can comfortably take without it getting arduous.
I realize that to some people it seems like I take a whole lot of supplements. Yet, there are plenty of people who take a lot more than I do. And, there is a specific, concrete purpose behind every supplement I take.
Yet, I think this is a good exercise, and I’m glad it was suggested. So, here are my top 5 supplements if I were limited to just 5.
Extend Core Multi- this is the multivitamin/mineral supplement that I take from VRP. It is not ultra-high potency, but it is very broad, and very well formulated, and with the highest quality ingredients. For instance, it has the MTHF form of folic acid and the P5P form of Vitamin B6. Of course, I am conscientious about eating a wholesome diet. But, even though I am, I still value being covered by this comprehensive nutritional formula, and I’ll give you an example of a reason why: zinc.
Zinc is a marginal nutrient in many people’s diets, including those who try to eat healthfully. There are factors that can interfere with zinc absorption, such as plant fiber, oxalic acid, and phytic acid. Some people avoid grains and legumes because of phytic acid, but there are other foods that have it, such as nuts. The highest phytic acid food that I know of is the brazil nut. Similarly, some people avoid spinach due to oxalic acid, but the fact is that all fruits and vegetables contain oxalic acid- it’s ubiquitous. Spinach just happens to be higher in it than most. It’s interesting that vegetarians have been found to have a lower zinc status than omnivores. And they have been found to have lower taste acuity- which is a sign of zinc deficiency. I eat a lot of plant food and am practically vegan. So, I worry about getting enough zinc, and I am glad to get the 15 mgs of highly absorbable zinc in my Extend Core multi. It’s the kind of nutritional insurance that I’m looking for.
Sublingual Vitamin B-12- you need only read the previous blog to know why I am including this supplement on my short list. It’s been found that older people have very little ability to absorb Vitamin B12- from food or from swallowed supplements. The older stomach does not produce enough Intrinsic Factor- a compound which facilitates the absorption of Vitamin B12 through the gut. We know now that sub-optimal Vitamin B12 status is affecting millions of Americans, particularly older ones. Sublingual Vitamin B-12 bypasses the stomach and goes directly from mouth to blood. I am not going to repeat the previous blog again here, but please read it if you haven’t, and I hope you will take it very seriously. This supplement is quite inexpensive, and I know from experience that it can be, not just beneficial, but life-saving.
Coenzyme Q10-H2- this is essentially a vitamin, but it is not officially listed as a vitamin because the body can make it to some extent. However, with aging, the body makes much less of it, and blood levels often decline markedly with age. What is worsening the situation in the present day is that millions of people take statin drugs, which besides interfering with cholesterol production (which is their intended purpose) also put the brakes on CoQ10 production. I don’t take statin drugs, but I still take CoQ10, and the H2 form is the best form of it. CoQ10 is an energy supplement; it facilitates mitochondrial energy production in the cells, including the muscle cells, and where it factors in mightily is the heart. I don’t know if you realize that your heart runs on the burning of fatty acids- not glucose. And the direct oxidation of fatty acids by the heart hinges on CoQ10. And remember that your heart is the muscle that never gets to rest- except to the extent that it rests between beats. I see CoQ10 as a very good supplement choice for those middle-aged and older. The one we offer is the highest quality one, which is made by a Japanese firm- Kaneka- although it’s actually manufactured here in Texas now, where I live. It is the only all-natural, yeast fermented CoQ10 in the world, and it is state -of-the-art. Coenzyme Q10 is considered an anti-aging nutrient, and the research about that is very impressive. Rats age a whole lot better and a whole lot slower when they are given Kaneka CoQ10.
Fish Oil- I don’t have any interest in eating fish. It is not my thing. But, I do take my Pro Omega fish oil from Nordic Naturals every day. This Norwegian company goes way high up in the Arctic and harvests very small fish- the likes of sardines and anchovies- which are quite pure to begin with, but then they purify the oil from these fish down to one part per trillion to make sure it’s contaminant-free. It’s an amazing and highly advanced technical process, and the resulting oil hardly seems fishy at all, and it doesn’t repeat on you. There are very few fish oils as good as this- if any.
Of course, the purpose of taking fish oil is to obtain the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which do not occur in plants. What occurs in plants is a shorter-chain fatty acid, ALA, which can, to a limited extent, be converted into EPA and DHA. However, the older you get, the less able you are to do this. And for some strange reason, older men, which includes me, have practically no ability to do it. It’s odd that such a gender difference should exist- but it does. Therefore, taking flax seed or flax oil in the hope your body will convert it, is not a good bet, especially if you are an older man. The only alternative is to take an algae-derived supplement of DHA. However, it’s not very practical because the potency is low, with only 100 mgs DHA per capsule, and it is completely lacking in EPA. On a unit basis, it’s very expensive. If a person adamantly refuses to take a fish oil supplement because they are unwilling to consume anything from fish, then the DHA from algae should be taken instead. But, I personally take the fish oil, and that is what I recommend.
I realize that the ProOmega fish oil from Norway is expensive, and there are cheaper ones. And I don’t say that you can’t find a cheaper one that is still good. But, don’t just buy the cheapest fish oil you can find. That’s fine for something like Vitamin C. But when it comes to fish oil, there is the worry about mercury and other contaminants, and there is also the worry about rancidity. Rancid fish oil is definitely not good for you. I have 100% confidence in the ProOmega that I take. If you don’t take that one, make sure you are getting a good one. Otherwise, you are defeating the whole purpose of taking it, and you may do yourself more harm than good.
Vitamin D3- 5000 IUs- the research on Vitamin D has been growing, and it is absolutely astounding. This pro-hormone not only protects our bones, but it is invaluable to the heart, the immune systems, for the prevention of cancer, and much, much more. And we know now that the amount needed is much greater than previously believed. Most people need at least 5000 IUs daily to reach optimal blood saturation. So, even though there is a small amount of Vitamin D3 in my Extend Core multi, I also take an additional 5000 IUs every day.
Note that this is not a vegetarian product. It is derived from the lanolin of sheep, usually. There is a so-called vegetarian Vitamin D called Vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol. But, it is not natural Vitamin D; it is rather a Vitamin D drug-analog. In other words, it is a Vitamin D-like drug.
Like Dr. John Cannell, who heads the Vitamin D Institute and is considered a leading authority in the world on Vitamin D, I am totally opposed to the use of Vitamin D2. It is not as effective as natural Vitamin D3. It is not as safe as natural Vitamin D3. And it has actually been shown to have some anti-Vitamin D effects. There is no safe alternative to Vitamin D3. It is simply the only way to go.
As for sun exposure, studies have shown that very few people can reach optimal Vitamin D levels through sun exposure alone. In Hawaii, it was found that among people getting 11 or more hours of sun exposure per week, that over half of them still had a sub-optimal blood level. If that's true of Hawaii, what does it say about other places? Furthermore, with aging, we lose the ability to make the active form of Vitamin D through sunning. We may continue to make cholecalciferol from exposing our skin, but that is not the active form. of Vitamin D. That is the dormant form, or you might say the storage form. That compound has to be tweaked by the liver and the kidneys to make it potent- a process that declines a lot with aging.
Note that I consider it a very good idea to check your blood level of Vitamin D once a year to make sure that you are staying withn the optimal range which is between 50 and 100. I do that every year without fail. In fact, I’ll be doing it soon because I do it every year in April. And I recommend that you do it as well.
But, just as low Vitamin B-12 status is needlessly hurting millions of people, the same is true of Vitamin D deficiency. Don’t let it happen to you.