For me, I need a confirmation of the following:
1) Is it an essential nutrient?
2) Is there a high probability of a deficiency?
3) Will it take too long or be too inconvenient to address the deficiency with whole food?
4) Can a bioavailable supplement be sourced?
5) Does supplementation present little risk of toxicity?
I've had various things at different times run that gauntlet and make it into my supplement protocol for some stretch of time usually until #2 begins to seem unlikely. At that point, I can often switch back to food with the assumption that my organs, bones, fat, etc. is stocked up on it.
Things that never make it through that gauntlet are the various herbal supplements that I've noticed have become quite popular lately. I'm sure there are herbal supplements that themselves contain essential nutrients like how a kelp supplement contains iodine, but for the most part that doesn't seem to be the typical purpose of them. Oftentimes these things are derived from food, but with claims like, "you'd have to eat a truckload of blueberries to get this much [anthocyanin or whatever]!" To me that's not a selling point at all.
If these constitute what we might call supranutritional doses of nonessential substances, aren't they simply "natural" pharmaceuticals? I have questions about whether it can be extracted in a viable form, whether it does what they say it does, and further, whether I actually want it to do what they say it does. A common thing I see when I delve into the mechanisms of action behind a particular drug is a somewhat clever, but at the same time very crude approach to the aim of alleviating some problem, real or not. There's generally a flooding of the system with an analog of a particular thing that occurs in the body but would never reach those levels under any circumstances. The drug is effective in a way because it causes a noticeable change in how you feel, but does nothing to address why you felt that way in the first place. This is clearly a very lucrative way to patch people up.
There are times when essential nutrients, taken in excess, become drug-like in their effects. Niacin is a good example of this, but what I'm concerned with are the piles of herbal supplements that I see on the shelves when I buy the few minerals that I take.
If you take one of these herbs every day and it actually works, i.e. you feel better, do you become less motivated to pursue a solution to the underlying problem? So many of these do not contain appreciable amounts of essential substances nor do they usually claim to, so is the idea that most people have congenital defects that must be treated with drugs (herbal or not) or that some of these things actually are essential and that people are walking around with, for example, a garlic deficiency?
Should we maintain our focus on nutrition that brings the body as close to 100% as possible and let it use its own mechanisms for repair and upkeep? I think of it like trying to add a turbocharger to your car. You're enhancing some piece, some mechanism beyond what it was designed for to produce a particular effect, but the eventual side effects, whether it be blown piston rings or liver toxicity, are for the same reason. Cars and humans are generally not over-engineered too far for the same reason: cost. It is monetarily costly for Honda if their engineers are creating a transmission that can handle an engine that is now 2x more powerful than factory specs. Similarly, it's metabolically costly for us to have, for example, a liver that can handle many times the toxicity that would ever have been encountered by our ancestors (though the liver does a damn good job if I may say so). Business and evolution tend to favor things that are sufficient, but not excessively so.
Anyway, I could definitely be wrong about this, so sell me on some of these novel supplements that offer very real advantages.
asked byTravis_Culp (39821)
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on September 14, 2011
at 07:18 PM
Uh oh, very hard question, it takes time, experiments and so on, but, I can provide some points from my experience.
You definitely need supplements. Food is not fresh nowdays, its GMO spoiled, soil is deprived, water is enriched with farm leaking pesticides and sewer driven human liquids containing various toxins like mercury, antibiotics, antidepressives, BPA, detergents, house washers. Food is collected before maturation, you can't control storage conditions, you can't know how old it is etc. Animals don't eat the stuff they eat in nature and various hormones are used upon them to boost incomes. What is left is destroyed by industrialization upon already damaged food. So yes, you need supplements, you need lots of them, unless you live in the mountains, have your own goat and produce your own potato and NATO didn't sip radioactiveE/experimental bombs on neighbor country. On top of that, water, the most important of them all is junk on entire planet now [u basically have to go for the lesser evil].
I look for the firm first. It has to be known, like Now Foods, Jarrow, Solgar. If product doesn't contain full description I ignore. If it doesn't mention anything specific about particular component I assume its the worst out there, since anything better then average is used as commercial. Look for at least some certificates.
Look fillers - lot of fillers + lot of supplements = junk. For instance, 1 tablete contains usually 5% Mg-Stearate which is used on production line to prevent stickiness. Some people are allergic on that compound or on silicone dyoxide. The lower number of fillers the better.
Always try to find powders. It gives you freedom to combine them as you wish and fillers are low or non existent.
Look for the vehicle. Liposome encapsulated tech (LET) is the best out there for most beneficial substances, as it is usually used by the cells via endocitosis and doesn't require additional resources and setups (like ATP , receptors, minerals etc..). Chelated minerals are better the oxides (Mg-Citrate vs Mg-Oxide). Calculate actual dosage of minerals (Mg-Citrate has 16% of elemental Mg). Is it sustained release ? Is there any problems with such preparations [high doses of sustained release niacin for instance can damage liver while normal preparation doesn't]
Know the half life, absorption and what affects storage. Vitamin K2 can last for 3 days, absorbs 100%, Vitamin K1 maxes at 300mcg, Vitamin C 30 minutes and absorption is 5-15%. Know what competes and what synergies (i.e. Zinc vs Copper, Vitamin D should be taken with K2). Was that fish oil kept in dark bottle and in cold place ? Is that Vitamin C dissolved in water and left on the sun ???? [it can last 2-4 hours in it].
Dose, dose, dose. Most supplements have minisqule ammounts to be beneficial. If doctor give you antibiotics and you take them on 12 instad 8 hours and 40mg instead 400 mg you will do nothing at all. The same is true for supplements. Dose & frequency is the most important. Vitamin C taken once a day, even 10g means next to nothing. Its much better to take 4x1g then 1x20g. You can take Vitamin D once a month cumulative. CoQ10 is mostly 10mg in most supplements. Its meaningless - your body produces around 300mg per day and intestinal absorption of pill is next to nothing [its not what you take, its what you get to the cell]. 400IU Vitamin D is worst then nothing since on Sun your body can produce up to 20K IU
Alaways read full description for the vitamin. Is it Vitamin C, is it acerola or calcium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate, mixture. Is it methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin, and how it compares to you - if you have amalgam fillings methylcobalamin might not be good for you, or ALA as it will chelate mercury and bring it into the brain perhaps, and it will perhaps stay there forever. If there are only generic names, its junk, just ignore.
Is it overpriced ? Typical for Ascorbate and CoQ10. Ascorbate plus some acerola can cost x 100 times more regular pure ascorbate. Then you go on internet and read bunch of BS that there is "vitamin C complex" or that plant make it better etc... its all BS but this stuff is vitamin specific, no shortcuts here, you need to know how its used in the body. Ascorbate is made by the animals, CoQ10 needs 17 steps and bunch of resources to be made in the body and you probably lack some. Vitamin E is complex its not a single entity so you need plant help here. Skin makes Vitamin D the best, but sometimes its not enough because some pathogens can disable anything along its pathway [like nuclear receptor].
Your age and state is important. SVCT receptors for sodium ascorbate drop with age, CoQ10 production diminish a lot after 35, Vitamin D is lost in fat if you are obese or have dark skin or chronic infections (or autoimmune), most vitamins are lost ASAP on every kind of cellular stress you can get - exercise, virus, mental stress.
How did you eat today and what type of cooking did you practice - not enough veggies - take 300-500 mg Mg. You feel down, CoQ10, carnitine. You eat dairy a lot, no calcium for you (actually, dont use calcium at all, every kind of food has it), too much PUFA like fish oil overloading, take mixed tocopherols to protect yourself or ALA. Did you exercise a lot, OK, whole bunch of stuff need to be boosted. Did you overload on sugar - cynamon extracts, vitamin C. Not enough fermented food (dairy, soy sauce) ? Pre/probiotics may be good idea.
What season is it - maybe you need vitamin D maybe not.
What did you do recently, did you paint your house? NAC, Ascorbate, clay etc...
Are you trying to solve something particular - psoriasis, gingivitis, immune problems, thyorid issues. There are supplements here that need to be overemphasized more then others but you need to be careful because of the balans. Take some book a la 'drug, nutrient and herb interactions'. Do you have infection ? What do you think it is ? Parasite, virus, bacteria ? All have specific stuff that work against them.
Are you using some medicine ? Statins ? Daily aspirin? ACE inhibitors ? Too big topic.
How much money are you willing to give. There are essential stuff, and there are less essential stuff.
The master rule: Always take Vitamin C, the more the better. Everything that lives except few unfortunates makes it internally.
Obviously, look how you feel, do blood/hair/urine tests, log it. If you are not sure, do a lot of logging.
The muster rule #2: Better to piss it off, then to be without it.
Use tools: I find wolphram alpha unreplacable.
If you have problem, first use what our body knows. Our body doesn't know beta blockers but is very familiar with vitamins. You can't predict adapted molecule effect on human body but you can deduce something for essential substances because there are only few of them and body has mechanisms to control excess of them if its not damaged a lot. Deficiency of only 1 essential supplement can produce probably hundreds of diseases.
on September 14, 2011
at 07:05 PM
My list is a lot shorter:
1) Is it helpful and convenient?
For example, while I try to eat fresh liver once every week or two, I find it very convenient to have a tablespoon of freeze-dried liver powder (mixed into liquid) most days in between. And while I think certain herbs are beneficial ??? cayenne, cinnamon, fenugreek, etc. ??? sometimes taking them in a capsule is more convenient than putting them on my eggs or whatever.