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Vitamins and Eating Right

This is such a huge subject that I can’t really do it full justice here, so I’ll limit myself to some general principles and comments.

Many, maybe most people don’t need to take vitamins.

Crazy statement, eh? It’s true if your overall health is good and you eat a balanced diet, especially if your diet includes animal products in moderation, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and is composed, as much as possible, of organic foods. You’re better off spending your money on better food rather than vitamins and supplements!

How to eat right

Michael Pollan, after extensive research on our modern food and several books, has it down to seven simple words:

Eat food.

By this he means food that your grandmother would recognize, single ingredient foods that you have to cook.

Not too much.

Mostly plants.

If that’s too simple for you, and you want all your questions about healthy eating answered, I recommend¬†this recent article.

If you know¬† you’re not eating right, take a good multivitamin daily.

As long as you’re taking a well-formulated multivitamin according to package instructions, and not going for ‘megadoses’, it is unlikely to hurt and may compensate for nutrients you’re missing in your diet. Men and post-menopausal women should look for an iron-free supplement.

Vegetarians have an entirely different set of nutritional issues.

If you are considering becoming a vegetarian, study up- don’t just drop animal products from your diet. You must learn to combine non-meat foods in such a way as to create a complete protein, or you’ll start to waste away.

Some people absolutely need to take vitamins.

Women who are pregnant or lactating need to take prenatal vitamins, due to the tremendous demands the developing baby makes on their system. Women approaching menopause and older people of both genders should also begin taking calcium and magnesium in a one-to-one ratio. They need to be taken together in the same supplement so they are absorbed similarly. The citrate form is more easily absorbed. Vitamin D in the mix can help absorption.

If all of your food comes from large commercial farms, you may need trace minerals.

Commercial farming has leached the trace minerals out of much of our soil. Fertilizers only replace the major plant nutrients, not the trace minerals. Trace minerals are metallic ions that the body uses in very specific parts of the metabolic process. Usually a single ion is incorporated in an energy-producing cascade, and these ions are conserved by the body, but they do gradually get depleted. Consider buying organic produce when you can get it. If you can’t, a trace mineral supplement every couple of months should take care of it.

Some vitamins can hurt you.

The fat-soluble vitamins, including A and E, can build up to toxic levels in the body. Be careful of large doses over prolonged periods. Most of the others, especially the B vitamins, are eliminated in the urine if there’s an excess. If your vitamins are turning your urine orange, you are eliminating excess B vitamins. That’s good in that you know you’re getting more than enough, but you’re probably also wasting some money. Back off a little bit.

If you live up here in the Pacific Northwest, you should probably be taking Vitamin D.

We just don’t have the opportunity to be out in the sun enough to rev up our body’s ability to produce vitamin D. Deficiency causes myriad problems- see this link for the list. Latest studies suggest that the D3 form is much better for maintaining the proper levels in the body and bringing them up from deficiency.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin may help with joint pain.

Studies on these substances are coming out mixed, but a few of my patients have reported good results. The principle here is to have the substances the body needs to maintain the cartilage of the joints available at all times. You will need to give these substances (best taken in combination) a trial of at least a couple of months to see if they work for you. It’s not a short-term fix.

CoQ-10 is a coenzyme helpful in reducing the severity and frequency of migraines for many sufferers.

If you have migraines, try it for a month or so. If it’s helpful, be consistent in taking it and do not abruptly stop taking it.

Be careful (and sparing) with herbal remedies.

Melatonin supplements, for instance, work fine for better sleep temporarily, but pretty soon the body compensates by making less melatonin of its own. If you keep taking extra of something the body produces, the body (being conservative) will curtail making it. You may find yourself dependent on the supplement after awhile, and stopping may be tough. My own general orientation is to take as few medications as possible, whether they’re from Big Pharma or the vitamin store. If a herbal remedy is effective, it’s a medication, and should be evaluated by a physician- in this case a naturopath.

If you feel you are deficient in a vitamin, or are considering herbal or homeopathic remedies, consult with a naturopath.

They are the doctors with the most training in these matters. Be sure you ask questions and understand exactly why a supplement or herb is being recommended, and be a little skeptical if you’re loaded with a grocery bag full of supplements when you leave. Get a second opinion.

Some herbal remedies interact with medications and with each other

They may either interfere with or enhance the effects of medications, either of which can be potentially dangerous. If you are taking prescribed medicines, be sure your doctor and pharmacist are aware of everything you are taking, no matter how innocuous it seems.

Can you test vitamins and other substances using Applied Kinesiology?

I can, and I do, BUT- and it’s a big but- I would absolutely not have anyone who is selling you vitamins test you with Applied Kinesiology to recommend vitamins or other supplements. This is because the tester is always part of the testing mechanism, and can induce subtle, unconscious bias into the process. This need not involve any intent to deceive or anything sinister- it’s just that if the tester’s income is going to be higher if a test comes out a certain way, there is an inevitable bias introduced into the test. One reason I can trust the AK testing I do- aside from 30+ years experience- is that the results don’t affect my income.

Don’t let the person selling you the supplements muscle test you for the supplements!