One of the most common questions I get from patients is what vitamins/supplements they should take, if any. The answer is really that it depends on the patient: whether they have vitamin deficiencies, risk for specific diseases, or already have specific medical problems.

The vitamins/supplements that I take is a good reflection of my recommendations for most healthy individuals without any medical problems. So here is my regimen and my reason for each. For more on why I take any vitamins at all, read my previous blog about that topic.

B-Complex: I take a B-Complex because I was deficient in many of the B-Vitamins and I also have a family history of heart disease. I find that on nutritional testing, the majority of patients are deficient in B-vitamins. The term “B-Complex” refers to all eight of the B-Vitamins which are important in energy production, detoxification, heart health, and function of the nervous system. Read more about B-Complex.

Fish oil: Omega-3’s are very important in prevention of heart disease and optimal function of the brain and nervous system. Because of my concern about mercury and PCB’s in much of the fish that is available, I find that it is more convenient to take a fish oil supplement to ensure that I am getting enough omega-3’s. I take 820 mg of fish oil and 1 tablespoon of ground flax (a plant based source of omega-3). It is important to get both fish (EPA/DHA) and plant based (ALA) sources of omega-3’s. Fish oil can also be contaminated with mercury and PCB’s so it is essential that you buy high quality fish oil. Read more about how to choose fish oil.

Vitamin D3: although called a “vitamin”, this important element of health is actually a hormone that is synthesized from cholesterol when our skin is exposed to sunshine. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common. I recommend being tested with a blood test and reaching optimal blood levels of 50-70. Although I take 5,000 IU of Vitamin D daily, I would not recommend taking this amount if you don’t have your levels checked because you can take too much Vitamin D. If you don’t have your levels checked, I would recommend no more than 1,000-2,000 IU daily. Read more about Vitamin D.

Calcium plus minerals: I take Calcium plus minerals to optimize my bone health. I prefer the MCHC form of calcium and with a good quality calcium such as this, I don’t think it is necessary to take the recommended 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium that many physicians recommend . Too much calcium is actually linked to increase in heart disease. I think these high doses of the poor quality calcium (calcium carbonate) is to blame. Read more on how to choose calcium supplements.

Probiotic: The number of good bacteria in our GI tract outnumber our cells by a ratio of 10:1. This good bacteria is essential to our health. These tiny organisms play key roles in the prevention of cancer, asthma, allergies, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and even brain, behavioral and emotional problems like ADHD, autism and depression. I recommend taking a probiotic with at least 10 billion CFU (colony forming units) but even more for patients with health problems. And contrary to popular belief, eating yogurt does not supply enough of these bacteria and most of the yogurts contain added sugar, additives, and preservatives. I have not yet written about how to choose good quality probiotics. There are many issues with probiotics including the bacterial species and colony count, whether the bacteria survive packaging and travel through the GI tract (bacteria need to reach the small bowel and colon to be effective). I would recommend pharmaceutical grade probiotics such as from Xymogen or Orthomolecular, which can only be purchased through a licensed health care provider.

Protein shake: It is so important to get adequate protein in the diet. At least 4 days per week, I have a protein shake with added nutrients (Xymogen Opticleanse Plus) for breakfast. I like to add a tablespoon of organic, ground flax and a tablespoon of organic coconut oil.

Read last weeks blog for the 7 tips for choosing vitamins.

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