Nutrition and Dietary Supplements – Part Two

Nutrition and Dietary Supplements – Part Two

In part one of this blog, I covered detailed information about vitamins, minerals, B vitamins and Vitamin C. My overall basic recommendations for the beginning of a nutrition supplement program are below. As always, please consult with your physician before beginning any new supplements.

  1. Multivitamin/Multimineral general supplement. A single tablet can only contain those supplements needed in relatively small quantities.
  2. Vitamin C, 500 mg at least twice daily, more if needed or recommended by your doctor.
  3. Calcium 500 mg maximum/Magnesium 250 mg, before bed.
  4. Fish oil capsules, EPA/DHA, 300–600 mg taken with food in the middle of two different meals.

Vitamin D – in the last several years, there’s been a growing body of literature and interest in vitamin D. Vitamin D is actually a group of related compounds, the most important of which are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. One main function is to enhance the absorption of calcium from the intestine and facilitate the building of bone. It is now believed that adequate vitamin D is needed to protect against many types of cancer also. The ideal levels are now much higher than previously thought. Vitamin D can be made in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Exposure over nearly the entire body under intense sunlight is required to make sufficient levels. People living at high latitude or those using sunscreen virtually never acquire enough sun exposure to make sufficient vitamin D. Thus, as physicians test the vitamin D levels more often now, it’s been noticed that many people are low or deficient in this important nutrient. As a fat soluble vitamin, it is stored in fat and can be taken intermittently, because it stays in the body for long periods of time. A conservative dosing recommendation is between 1000–2000 IU’s per day. Your doctor may recommend more depending on your blood test results. Take a supplement that is in the form of vitamin D3 because this is more efficiently absorbed.

Calcium and Magnesium – calcium is needed for bone health. When paired with magnesium, these two metals regulate electrical conduction in muscles all over the body. Blood levels of calcium and magnesium are very tightly controlled by the parathyroid glands and don’t reflect the bodies need when tested. The phosphates in soft drinks and milk wash calcium out of the body. Our soil has mostly been depleted of magnesium. Because the quantities needed are large, sufficient amounts do not fit into a daily vitamin tablet. I usually recommend chelated calcium 500mg/magnesium 250mg, taken at bedtime. This is because bones are built mostly at night and, additionally, magnesium is a sedative and will assist in inducing sleep.

Fish oil capsules or flax seed – most Americans eat an excess of the wrong types of fat. The membranes of our cells are made of fat and we all need the proper building blocks to help make healthy cell membranes. When cows and chickens were allowed to run around and eat what they wanted, cows ate grass and hay; chickens ate a lot of insects. Their meat used to be high in a special kind of fat called Omega 3 fatty acids. Today, most of our meat comes from factory farms. The cows and chickens are penned up in very small enclosures and fed almost entirely on corn, which has high sugar content. This has altered the type of fat the animals store and ultimately, in the meat we eat. As a result, almost everyone needs additional omega 3 fatty acids. These can be found in cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines). Unfortunately, some of these fish are also high in Mercury, a toxic metal. The current best solution is to take mercury free fish oil capsules with meals at least twice daily. Quality is important in fish oils. If it smells bad or leaves a fishy taste from your stomach, seek out a better brand. Flax seed oil can be converted by most people to these fatty acids, but some people lack the enzyme to make the conversion. Also, flax seed oil turns rancid fairly quickly. Don’t buy more than you can use before it expires and keep all opened containers refrigerated. Once exposed to air, omega oils turn rancid quickly.

Stacey Wald, LAPC, RD
Swald @

Photo Credit: Public Domain

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