Nutritional Supplements: The BIG 3 that I feel are a must!

When it comes to obtaining the micronutrients your body needs, your best possible source is food, especially fruits and vegetables. But circumstances may prevent you from eating optimally every day. And, well…let’s face it, my idea of optimal and your idea of optimal are probably vastly different. If you are getting at least 5 servings of vegetables per day, 2 fruits per day and averaging 2 servings of protein per day, you might be doing alright. But, most people aren’t even close to this type of daily intake – I should know. I get food journals from nearly all of my patients.

Let’s start with why I take supplements. The main reason I take supplements is for insurance against gaps in my diet. Also, researchers are finding that some important vitamins (D and E particularly) and minerals are protective against disease in amounts that may be difficult to obtain through diet alone, no matter how conscientious you are. This is another reason I take supplements faithfully and encourage my patients to do so as well.

ONE: Multivitamin –Mineral Supplement

I recommend a comprehensive antioxidant and multivitamin for women and men as the basic foundation for nutritional insurance. My recommended daily antioxidant regimen includes 200 mg of vitamin C, 400 to 800 IU of natural vitamin E (or 80 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols), 200 mcg of selenium, and 15,000 to 20,000 IU of mixed carotenoids.

In my opinion a good multivitmain-mineral complex cures a lot of ills. For example, for patients who bruise easily, but who are not taking any medications, it is easy to supplement with a daily multi, than to try to figure out of the bruising is related to subclinical low iron, vitamin c, vitamin k or even magnesium. If the multivitamin takes care of the problem, it relieves you from the detective work in figuring our which nutrient was slightly low and how much to supplement with a specific nutrient.

Supplementation to cover dietary gaps is only one aspect of optimum health, which also includes the following lifestyle approaches:

Be active For optimum health, I recommend walking every day. Eat a diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids Vegetables and fruits are the best sources of antioxidants, although tea and dark chocolate contribute as well. Cold-water fish, freshly ground flaxseed and walnuts all provide omega-3 fatty acids. Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable major illness. The best defense against the harmful effects of tobacco is to never use it. De-stress Practice breathing exercises and explore other relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation to find ones that work for you.

When to take your supplements                                                                                                                        There are no rules about the best time of day to take supplements. My advice is to take them when they agree with you most. Many people find taking pills of any kind as part of a morning routine makes it easier to remember, so taking them with breakfast is a popular option. I also prefer to take my supplements with my meals. For me this means that I take them with my lunch and dinner. For best absorption and the least irritation to the stomach, I generally suggest taking your supplements with a meal containing fat. This is particularly important for the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and E). You can experiment with taking your supplements with lunch or dinner if they cause you problems with breakfast.

Foods — or an empty stomach — can also interfere with absorption of some vitamins and minerals. With calcium, for instance, you need enough stomach acid to assimilate it, so you’re better off taking it after you’ve eaten, because food in the stomach stimulates acid secretion. Tannins in tea can block absorption of iron, while vitamin C enhances iron absorption, as do fermented soy foods. Foods that interfere with iron absorption include caffeinated beverages, eggs, milk and bran. In addition to these foods, excess consumption of alcohol can interfere with absorption of several vitamins and minerals.

If you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, however, you have no reason to worry about foods interfering with the absorption of your vitamin and mineral supplements.

TWO: Vitamin D

My recommendation for vitamin D ranges from 1,000 IU-5,000 IU per day. We need vitamin D to facilitate calcium absorption and to promote bone mineralization as well as for protection from a number of serious diseases. I recently reviewed a series of studies on vitamin D and bone health with Walter Willett, MD, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Willett has assembled a compelling review of clinical evidence suggesting that current vitamin D recommendations, including my own, are too low.

To sum up, most adults are simply not getting enough vitamin D for good bone health. We get vitamin D from such foods as fortified milk and cereals as well as from eggs, salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines, and our bodies make vitamin D with exposure to sunlight. Unfortunately, many people don’t spend enough time in the sun to get optimal exposure, particularly in northern latitudes during the gray winter months. In addition, sunscreen blocks vitamin D synthesis in the skin, and dermatologists have made people so paranoid about sun exposure that many people in lower latitudes and in summer don’t get enough either.

And, clearly, many people are falling short of their vitamin D needs. A study published in the February 2001 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that even while taking a 1,000 IU supplement, fewer than half of the participants in a Canadian study were getting enough to achieve optimal blood levels of vitamin D. And research published in the January 2003 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that 1,700 IU was needed to bring blood levels of vitamin D to optimal levels during winter months in Nebraska. Dr. Willett told me that other studies have shown that an intake of 400 IU of vitamin D per day has no impact on the risk of fractures, but that 700 to 800 IU per day, with or without calcium supplements, does seem to reduce fracture incidence. He noted that some evidence further suggests that a higher intake of vitamin D may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, other malignancies, and multiple sclerosis.

Don’t be concerned that 1,000 IU will give you too much vitamin D — exposure to sunlight in the summer can generate between 10,000 and 20,000 IU of vitamin D per day with no ill effects. What’s more, no adverse effects have been seen with supplemental vitamin D intakes up to 10,000 IU daily.

Depending on the amount of sunshine available where you live or your habits regarding sun exposure, you may need to take even more.

The best way to know where your Vitamin D levels are and how much you might need is to take a simple blood test.   Most Labs offer a Vitamin D test, and they can be very costly (upwards of $400), but I offer a Vitamin D test for less than $100.

Optimal Vitamin D levels can balance hormones, improve mood, help with weight loss and weight management, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, protects the heart, protects against season colds and flus and can be preventative against cancer.










THREE: Probiotics

Probiotics are live microbial food supplements that beneficially affect your health by improving intestinal microbe balance and aiding in digestion.

Naturally, a human being should have enough healthy intestinal bacteria without needing to add a supplement; however in today’s society we have many negative influences on our healthy intestinal tract bacteria. C-section births, bottle fed babies, antibiotic and medication use (both prescription and OTC) can all reduce or healthy bacteria levels. Diets high in acidic foods such as sugar, alcohol, grains, preservative and refined carbohydrates can upset “good” and “bad” bacteria levels and ultimately destroy the immune system of the gut.

Changing your diet will change the kind of bacteria that you have; which will either support the strengthening of your immune system, or deplete its defensive capabilities. Conclusions drawn from the current research all reveal that a healthy immune system is the result of a diet that supports healthy gut function: one that emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods and one that helps to repopulate the gut with good bacteria.  You see, Probiotics, healthy bacteria, used to be on our fruits and vegetables, in our milk, yogurt and cheese. But, pesticides and pasteurization has made acquiring healthy bacteria through food sources nearly impossible.

A healthy bacterial level in your gut can help manage Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, GI infections that accompany Diverticulitis, food poisoning, and Traveler’s Diarrhea, and Constipation. It can also reduce your response to allergies, bladder infections and ear infections.

But all probiotics are not created equally. Most probiotics sold commercially contain only one or two strains of bacteria. Some bacteria, like lactobacillus, require the host (you) to consume dairy products to ensure the bacteria can colonize. For those people, like me, who must for go dairy because of an allergy, this strain of bacteria is practically useless when given alone.

If you are looking for help in sorting out your diet, improving your intake and choosing the correct supplements for you, I’m here to help. Since I also practice functional medicine, I can help you beyond just filling the gaps in your diet. Food and nutrition can be used medicinally to treat and cure a wide variety of health conditions.

If you need help, just ask.

Dr. Hoch uses a variety of professional, high-quality herbs, homeopathic remedies, and nutritional supplements to help her patients reset their hormones, decrease inflammation, improve joint motion, reduce pain, correct digestive issues, and encourage weight loss.  We currently have a number of great products available through  Fullscript, our online store.   Fullscript is where you can get high-quality, physician-recommended brands of natural products.  

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