Why Should You Take Supplements?

This information has been provided by Al Sears, MD and Doctor’s House Call. For more information or to sign up for a free subscription, visit alsearsmd.com.


Health Alert 11

So you eat your vegetables, you don’t smoke or drink to excess. You avoid junk food and you exercise. So do you really need to take vitamins?

You’ve heard the arguments pro and con. You’re probably ready to throw your hands in the air and conclude that no one really knows. Before you do, look at some pearls collected by someone who has spent his life studying this issue in detail. I think you will find, as I do, the evidence is quite convincing.

? A USDA study done in 1992 concluded that only 4% of the 22,000 Americans studied were getting even the minimum recommended daily allowance (RDA) of their essential vitamins.

? A more recent US government survey found that out of the 21,000 people surveyed, none of them managed to eat the recommended daily allowances (RDA) of all the ten basic nutrients studied.

? On any given day, 91% of Americans do not consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, with 70% not consuming any vitamin C rich fruits, and 80% not consuming any carotene containing vegetables.

? Today, foods have much less nutritional value than in the past due to modern agricultural methods. You’d have to eat 60 servings of spinach to get the same amount of iron you would get from just one serving in 1948.

? In order to get the RDA for vitamin E today, you’d have to eat 25 cups of spinach a day.

? 65 % of American diets are deficient in zinc, which is important for proper immune system functioning.

? Americans often eat the same small number of foods every day, without much variety.

The bottom line is that unless you are a very rare exception, you’re probably not getting even the minimum requirement of all your important vitamins and minerals. And that’s just part of the story.

* Vitamins For Disease Treatment, Prevention, And To Keep You Young *

There is a growing mountain of evidence that vitamins can have other health benefits beyond preventing deficiency.

Nobel laureate Linus Pauling was right when he said, “recommended daily allowances only give levels of vitamins and minerals that will prevent death or serious illness from vitamin deficiency. To get real health benefits from vitamins, you need to get more than just the minimal recommended amounts.”

In 1997, the Western Journal of Medicine published a study that showed that $20 billion dollars in hospital charges could have potentially been prevented by taking proper amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin E, for instance, has been shown to be beneficial in treatment of coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. These health benefits only come at antioxidant doses of at least 200 IU. Antioxidant doses of vitamin E are virtually impossible to get in the diet. You would have to eat 2 pounds of sunflower seeds every day.

In larger doses, niacin has been shown to be very effective in lowering cholesterol.

I have seen many cases of high blood pressure completely resolve with CoQ10 eliminating the need for medications.

* What You Should Do *

I have taken a multivitamin nearly every day for 30 years and you should too. You should choose a multivitamin that also has 100% of the required minerals. If you are beyond the age of 35, you should take doses larger than the RDA for antioxidants. It is possible to find all the required vitamins and minerals at antioxidant levels in a single supplement.

My antioxidant recommendations are: mixed carotenes 25,000 IU, vitamin C 1000 mg, vitamin E 400 IU, selenium 200 mcg and CoQ10 30 mg.

It will be easier on your gut if you take your multivitamin with a meal.

Store your multivitamin in the refrigerator. It will stay active longer and help remind you to take it regularly.

One further piece of advice – unless you have been diagnosed with iron deficiency, choose a multivitamin without iron. You don’t need additional iron and it can interfere with the absorption of other minerals, give you constipation and leave a foul taste in your mouth.

Al Sears, MD