There is an amazing array of nutritional supplements on the shelves of chemists, health food stores and even supermarkets. It is very difficult for consumers to know which are the most important, which are useful and which are unnecessary.
Integrative doctors aim to optimise nutritional elements rather than assume that ‘you’ll get what you need in an ordinary diet.’ We will focus on particular nutrients for particular symptoms- for example, people who suffer from muscle aches need high doses of magnesium. I jog daily, and used to accept that my legs ached. By increasing my magnesium supplement those aches disappeared and I have been more comfortable running than years ago- which is a pleasant surprise for a woman in her mid fifties!
For people who feel generally well, I would suggest three supplements- fish oils, Vitamin D and Vitamin C.
Fish oils are miraculous- antioxidant, cardio and joint protective! Eating enough fish/seafood to deliver optimal fish oils would expose us to excessive mercury, which is a sad commentary on our modern environment. It is important that the fish oil container is labelled in relation to its lack of mercury. An alternative is krill oil, since krill are very low in mercury. The capsule can also be opened into a liquid, such as a vegetable juice.
Vitamin D is also very versatile. Vitamin D is vital for bone strength, muscle strength, cardiovascular function and our immune system. We obtain it from the sun, but of course in protecting ourselves from skin cancer we have covered ourselves with UV protection, and hence our absorption of Vitamin D has plummeted. In my surgery, almost half of my patients are deficient when I do a blood test, so having your levels measured is vital. The optimal level is 100 nmol/l- but in Australia, the reference range is 50-140. Many people might therfore be told by doctors that they have enough vitamin D when their levels are in fact suboptimal. There are two supplement options. Because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it can be given as a once yearly injection. It can also be taken as an oral supplement- daily, weekly or even monthly depending on the formulation. I really recommend being tested!
Vitamin C is the most powerful nutritional supplement of all. It is a strong antioxidant, which reduces cell damage. It is vital for our immune system- both to prevent autoimmune disease AND ensure optimal surveillance against infection and cancer. It is also a great anti inflammatory agent, and helps to prevent arthritic conditions. A healthy person will benefit from 2gm daily, but to ward off infection during times of stress, 4gm is optimal. The only possible side effect is diarrhoea- which may happen if the dose is increased above 6gm daily.
These three supplements will have profound long term benefits on your health!