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Life Support for the Standard American Diet

As you’re thinking about the year ahead, considering what matters most, your health often rises toward the top of the list. People will often say to me: “I don’t like to take a lot of pills––but my mom died of breast cancer, my brother dropped dead of a heart attack in his fifties, and my sister is showing early signs of dementia.  Can you give me ONE vitamin that will help lower my risk of these things?”

Well, yes.  An adequate dose of vitamin D has been proven by numerous studies to reduce your risk of all of these.  But if you really want to give your body a fighting chance at preventing depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, heart attacks, strokes and many of the other common chronic diseases that most of us suffer and die from, you need at least three things.

Almost no one gets enough of these nutrients to maintain optimum health and minimize disease risk, from food.  So my recommendation is that every adult should at minimum supplement the following:

Vitamin D – 5000 IU a day (1 gel cap)
Consult Vitamin D Council for all the research you’ll ever need to understand how important this single nutrient is to nearly every part of your body, and why almost everyone who doesn’t supplement it is deficient.  If your doctor tells you that it’s easy to get too much vitamin D, or that you get all you need from the sun, he’s probably mistaken. Test your blood level, and make sure it’s between 50-90 ng/ml.  For quality, price and convenience, the best product I’ve found is D3-5000 from Metagenics

EPA and DHA (fish oil) - 1500 mg a day (2 gel caps)
These are the omega-3 fatty acids that all the research shows are essential for health, especially for preventing depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, heart attack, and strokes.  The only serious source of EPA and DHA is oily fish and fish oil supplements.  The claim that flax seed oil, or walnuts, or any other nut, seed or vegetable is “a good source of omega-3′s” is  egregiously misleading, because these have no EPA or DHA in them. The omega-3 in these products is ALA, which is a good fat, but it has a tiny fraction of the health benefits of EPA and DHA. Many (cheap) fish oils are contaminated with toxins.  I only recommend the companies who allow me to review their  quality control tests, proving that they are clean: MetagenicsOrthoMolecular Products, and Nordic Naturals.

A high-quality (3-4 caps) multivitamin
The easiest way to tell if your multivitamin is useless (many are) is to check if the recommended dose is “one-a-day.” The vitamins and minerals in cheap one-a-day products are very difficult for your body to absorb, so they often just pass through you unused.  High quality products contain vitamins and especially minerals that are closer to the forms found in plants, which our bodies are very efficient at absorbing. These more natural forms are bulkier, they won’t fit into one capsule. The standard dose for most is 3 or 4 caps per day.  My favorite multi is Alpha Base from Ortho Molecular Products.

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