Is a multi vitamin nutritional supplement all you need?

What is the right combination and balance of vitamin A, B12, C, D, E and K?

Have you ever taken a multi vitamin for a week or so then thought – “well, that did not make me feel much better?”

Vitamins are not likely to make you feel better in the short term – they are not a drug, they are not a “booster”. Vitamins are the very basic building blocks required over a long period of time (lifelong) to build a strong, healthy, disease free body.

Vitamins should be taken every day in the right balance and quantities. We need to address the imbalance in our body between the “good guys” the anti-oxidants and the “bad guys” – free radicals to reduce the effects of oxidative stress and the causes of degenerative disease.

“I eat a healthy diet – I get all the vitamins and nutrients I need from my diet”.

It would be good if this were true. Food should contain all the nutrients required for a healthy diet. However, the likelihood is that due to the degradation of our food supply you are not getting all the vitamins that your body needs to maintain long term optimal health. A number of studies have shown that the large proportion of us is not getting the vitamins and nutrients we need.

The medical evidence.

The highly regarded Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published two reports in the June 19, 2002 edition. The reports were written by Dr Robert Fletcher and Dr Kathleen Fairfield. They stated:

“Recent evidence has shown that sub-optimal levels of vitamins…..are risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. A large portion of the general population is apparently at increased risk for this reason.”

Taking vitamins as nutritional supplements.

Many scientists and some open minded doctors believe that chronic degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Cancer, Heart disease and Osteoporosis are caused by nutritional deficiency. Simply put; without the right building blocks our bodies’ functions break down. The importance of cellular nutrition can not be over stated. There are processes happening at a cellular level that need the right nutritional fuel on a daily basis.

There are still many doctors that erroneously believe that taking supplemental vitamins leads to “expensive urine” and there is generally a doctors bias against nutritional medicine. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so, there are also doctors that still smoke! However with more information available than ever before more and more people are educating themselves about the reality of modern medicine failure of prescription drugs. It is important that we educate ourselves about the real choices that we have to prevent the onset of chronic degenerative diseases.

We have several choices.

The "easy" approach

We can accept the consequences of a poor diet and blame the increase of degenerative diseases on the “normal effects of aging.” I.e. “roll over and give up”. Having seen first hand the effects of cancer on a good friend I would not recommend this approach to anyone.

The "zealous" approach

We can find our own plot of healthy soil (a challenge in itself) – roll up our sleeves and return to the traditional farming methods of mulching, crop rotation and other organic methods so we can guarantee our fruit and vegetables contain the right levels of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Somewhere in the middle

We can choose to eat as best we can – perhaps in part relying on the integrity of the organic industry. In addition we can supplement the healthiest diet we can achieve (given our busy modern lifestyles and budget) with a high quality nutritional vitamin supplement. High quality is the key to supplementation and there are a number of factors to look for when purchasing vitamins including guaranteed potency.

A high quality multi vitamin or the "flavour of the month"?

Pick up any magazine with a recent health article and there will be a reference to the new miracle antioxidant, the star performing vitamin of the month or the benefit of a secret herb found on a mountain side in an obscure and hard to reach (and harder to pronounce) location. Perhaps the herb can only be obtained through the advertorial’s promoters on the magazine's facing page!

There is an immense amount of confusing and misleading information on vitamins. It is an unregulated industry which leaves room for the opportunistic marketers. There is however a small number of quality companies operating with business integrity and a concern for the individual.

A high quality manufactured vitamin supplement should be safe and it should be balanced in the right quantities.

A high quality broad spectrum vitamin product is the best approach when choosing a nutritional product.

A reliable manufacturer will produce a product that is complete, balanced and have the right levels of potency. The key to vitamins is their synergy – the way they work with each other. Certain vitamins can increase or lessen the effects of others.

What are the major vitamins and what do they do?

Vitamin A

Is good for the skin, essential for vision (also known as Retinol), cell growth, reproductive functions and maintaining immune system. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A can build up in the body and cause toxicity.

This is why some vitamin manufactures prefer to use Beta Carotene as a source of vitamin A to maintain a safety level in their nutritional supplements.

Vitamin B12

Is essential for all cells. It is particularly those cells that regularly renewed including red blood cells and bone marrow cells. Vegetarians can be deficient in this vitamin because it is obtained from animal foods. Deficiency can cause anemia and neurological disorders.

Vitamin C

Has an essential role in forming collagen. Collagen is the in the fibres in skin bones and connective tissues. Vitamin C also has good antioxidant functions and high levels may be required to counteract the effects of oxidative stress.

It is hard to argue against the brain power of Dr Linus Pauling, who won the Nobel Prize not once but twice. Dr Pauling recommended mega doses of vitamin C back as early as the 70’s. Inadequate vitamin C has been associated with increased cancer risk.

Vitamin D

Balances minerals in the body and is an essential component of bone growth. The role of sunlight is to synthesize vitamin D on the skin. Vitamin D has been shown to decrease the risk of fractures caused by osteoporosis when taken with calcium.

Vitamin E

Is one of the most powerful antioxidants. Vitamin E helps to maintain healthy red blood cells and hormonal balance. It has a role in maintaining healthy skin, immune function as well as heart and artery health.

Vitamin K

As every new mother knows Vitamin K is one of the components needed for your blood to clot (or your babies!) It is also good for the immune system

Folate

This forms part of the system that controls amino acid metabolism. It assists in the growth of new cells. The degradation of the food supply and particularly the processing of foods cause Folate deficiency. Deficiency has been linked to neural tube defects and some cancers.

Co factors

See also co factors including Coenzyme Q10 and Bioflavonoid

For more information on vitamins; types, use and safety contact us