Which Vitamins Are Right For Me?
I hear this question daily from patients who are overwhelmed when they try to be healthy and venture out into the confusing world of the supplement market. Franchise chains of fast supplement vendors carry everything from the rarest berry juice from the Amazonian basin to a dozen products that will pass a drug test. Superstores and Supermarkets are no different either with their Indonesian vitamins, organic whey from Australia, or super vegan, non animal everything supplement. So where do we begin?????
Although everyone is a little different with their blood chemistry, there are certain basic requirements that all bodies require to maintain proper overall function. The most important aspect of purchasing supplements, is finding a quality product. Many companies claim to have everything you need by showing you healthy people with expensive marketing programs and professional commercials on prime time television, yet get most of their minerals from recycled petroleum distillates. These are not the supplements you want in your body. Before you choose, here are a few things to consider.
In the vitamin market, you get what you pay for. There is a huge difference between a forty dollar multivitamin and a seven dollar multivitamin. Vitamins are like gasoline grades in that the better the product, the better the performance; however, that is not to say that you need to venture out and purchase the most expensive supplement on the market either. Once you start reaching higher levels of training and lifestyles, your requirements for supplements change. For now, a moderately priced supplement will suffice until you get used to taking vitamins and get healthy.
So where do you start? A good multivitamin is a great base. Try to find one that is from all natural sources. Don’t be fooled by a million additives in trace amounts. More importantly, make sure that there is at least the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) amount of all your essential vitamin and minerals. There will be other articles on the difference between the Recommended Daily Allowance and the Optimal Daily Dosages in the near future. For now, the RDA amounts are a good start. Women should pay particular attention to Magnesium, Calcium, and Zinc. These are minerals that help regenerate tissue and are used for healing. If your multivitamin does not have these minerals, a Cal-Mag (Calcium and Magnesium) supplement is needed. (Did you know a woman hits her peak bone mass at 27?)
Another essential supplement is a B-Complex vitamin. B-Complex vitamins are necessary for the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They are essential for conduction and function of your nervous system. You adrenal glands also use B vitamins to combat the negative effects of stress. B complex vitamins are used by every organ and organ system in the body. They prevent anemia and increase your tendon strength. Some multivitamins have a full serving of B-complex in them.
Omega 3 Fatty acids are also a very wise choice. Whether you have a stressful life or you at a gym rat, Omega 3 fatty acids will help you heal and recover faster. Omega 3’s also fight inflammation. This is a very, very important supplement. We all have stress in our lives that create a lot of free radicals in our body. These free radicals roam the body breaking down healthy tissue causing a negative feedback cycle. Your body has hundreds of reactions daily that need this fat to maintain normal body function. It is also the most under-prescribed supplement in people with injuries, inflammation and chronic pain. Fish oils, flax seed oil, and borage oil are all Omega 3 fatty acids.
These three basic vitamins will get you started on your path to a healthier and happier lifestyle. Remember, you only have one body….start taking care of it!!! As a physician, I deal with severe pain, chronic pain, and athletic injuries on a daily basis in all age groups and body types. If there is one certainty with our modern lifestyle, it’s that we don’t need better health care, we need better health, and that starts with each of us individually. So do yourself a huge favor…..start taking care of yourself. Start getting healthy! If you are already healthy, then get healthier! You will thank me in 50 years….