Perhaps you read in the news, early 2012, about a Canadian study that reveals the superior physical and mental fitness of mice fed full vitamin supplements with their regular food. To most followers of a healthy lifestyle, it comes as no surprise that given the combination of our nutrient-depleted food supply, erratic access to fresh food, and our challenged digestive systems, most of us will benefit from individualized vitamin supplementation to ensure the healthiest life we can have.
Buy the best; take it as you can afford it.
The question frequently arises about what supplement to take and which type of vitamin is best. When selecting supplements, use three criteria: the best supplements are food-based where possible, reliably manufactured, and always individualized. Cost is actually not one of the considerations for choosing a vitamin; I suggest that you buy the best vitamin for your need and take the vitamin according to your budget. Better to take an excellent vitamin every other day, than a worthless one on a daily basis.
Food-based supplements start with real food, ideally organically grown, and use minimal and gentle processing to enhance the nutrient content. The measured nutrient content of food-based supplements is typically lower than that of synthetic vitamins, while the effectiveness of the supplement is much higher. We are better able to use the nutrients from these supplements because they are more like a food than a medicine. Our bodies have evolved and learned to extract needed nutrients from food, utilizing the other substances present in those foods to enhance our ability to use the nutrients. We do not benefit from completely isolated nutrients, processed synthetically and batched in high dosages, offering high vitamin content, at bargain prices, without mentioning that vitamins in this form are not particularly useful to the body.
It's not uncommon that someone will point out that they would rather eat an orange than take a vitamin C pill. Food-based vitamins fall in the middle: eat the orange when you can, but if you want to take a lot of vitamin C for a certain reason, or if your diet doesn't give you all you need, choose a food-based vitamin.
Reliable manufacturers are difficult for the average consumer to identify. Information on laboratory-based quality testing is limited and often hard to find. DrDeborahMD recommends only brands that have been effective in clinical use over time.
Individualized supplement programs consider the sex, age, and specific health needs of the person. It is common now for multi-vitamins to target specific gender and age groups, which is often helpful as it allows the consumer to easily choose the best vitamins for their category. For example, the NewMark Synbiotic Nutrients differ slightly between those for men and for women.
For people with specific health challenges - a family history of breast cancer or a tendency toward diabetes - consulting with an experienced health care professional will enable you to efficiently select the supplements that are right for you.
Where to start?
The NewMark multi-vitamins mentioned above are a great place to start.
How are you feeling now? Start a health journal in which you write your current state of well-being and health concerns. If a mild daily headache goes away gradually, you might never notice if you don't make a written note of it now. As with weight loss, check your journal weekly or monthly instead of daily. This regularity will help you keep perspective and allow room for daily weight fluctuation.
Buy the Men's or the Women's Synbiotic Nutrients and compare the price to your current vitamin. Take the Synbiotic Nutrients as frequently as you can afford to take them. Weigh your own budget constraints against the possibility for better health associated with regular vitamin use.
Re-evaluate your health in 3-12 months and you decide if the vitamins prove helpful. Most people enjoy the benefits and choose to stay with the vitamin plan.