The key to all nutraceuticals (vitamins, minerals and supplements) is not the amount that you take, but the amount that your body absorbs. Taking most nutraceuticals on an empty stomach limits the amount that your body can absorb. Some vitamins are fat-soluble, so you must ingest some fat with them. Others are water soluble, so water is an important catalyst for absorption. How the manufacturer puts the supplement together also determines the rate at which your body absorbs it. Not all companies follow the same guidelines for production. Educate yourself on the specific brand that you buy. The list of nutraceuticals listed below is not a complete encyclopedia of supplements.
As with most nutrients, minerals must travel through the venous system to the liver before becoming available to the body. Fiber binds to minerals and other compounds and can interfere with the absorption process. Fiber is a highly used supplement, especially in the elderly population, that delays absorption in the stomach. If you’re taking your vitamins and minerals at the same time as you take your fiber; the fiber will bind to the vitamins and minerals, causing limited absorption and the benefits lost. Environmental toxins and health disorders of the small intestine and liver can additionally modify the absorption rate.
Not everyone should take the same cocktail of nutracueticals. Depending on your age, diet, schedule, genetics and goals, the time and amount of nutracueticals will change.
Although it is possible to get the daily-recommended amounts of vitamins and supplements from your diet, most people don’t. This is the reason why nutracuetical sales are so high. Supplementing your daily, healthy diet with vitamins and supplements is a relatively risk free way of maintaining the proper ratios of nutrients in your system.
Drinking water on a steady basis throughout the day is a necessary component to any diet. Water helps your body metabolize the nutrients more efficiently so you may reap the benefits of a proper lifestyle.
Most people drink less than half the amount of water required to keep their body hydrated. My rule of thumb is for every 100 pounds of bodyweight, you must drink 50 ounces of water per day. This does not include what you drink when you are eating. The water ingested during a meal is used by your body to help in the digestive processes. In order to hydrate properly, drink 4-6 ounces of water at a time: many times throughout the day. Your body can only absorb 4-6 ounces of water at a time. The excess will spill over through your kidneys and then flushed down your toilet. You want your body to absorb the water, not get rid of it.
Vitamin and Mineral Guide To Foods You Should Include In Your Healthy Diet
Vitamin A – Beta-Carotene – A powerful fat-soluble antioxidant that contributes to proper brain function, DNA function, eye health, skin, lung, intestinal tissue and as a cancer fighter. Night blindness is one of the early signs of vitamin A deficiency, because of the role of vitamin A in vision. Vitamin A can be toxic in high concentrations. Symptoms of Vitamin A toxicity include headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, joint pain, dry lips, dry skin and excessive hair loss. Foods that contain Vitamin A are carrots, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, green pepper and spinach.
B Vitamins (Complex)
Vitamin B 1-Thiamin – Enhances brain function and energy level. When you’re burning off more calories than you’re ingesting, energy levels become more erratic. Thiamine helps your body recover for stress, whether physical (exercise regimen) or emotional (mood swings are common when changing your lifestyle). Foods that contain thiamine include unrefined grains, brewers yeast, legumes, enriched and fortified grains and bread. Thiamine is depleted with alcohol consumption.
Vitamin B2- Riboflavin – Essential in antibody and energy production via the respiratory system. Deficiencies in riboflavin are characterized by weakness, sore throat, corneal vascularization, hyperemia and swelling. Foods that contain riboflavin include broccoli, enriched grain products, asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, green leafy vegetables and brussel sprouts.
Vitamin B3- Niacin – Responsible for healthy circulation, skin and nerves; lowers
cholesterol levels and helps with memory. Once the body breaks down niacin, it’s highly absorbable in both the stomach and the intestines. Classic niacin d efficiency, Pellagra, is characterized by diarrhea and dementia. The disease is now rarely seen in industrialized countries but still appears in India , China , and Africa . Foods that contain niacin include corn products treated with lime, unrefined and refined grain products, yeast, meats (including liver), cereals, legumes, seeds, milk, green leafy vegetables and fish.
Vitamin B5- Pantothenic acid – Plays a role in the synthesis of lipids, steroids, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin. Without the proper concentration of pantothenic acid, fats cannot be metabolized into energy. Pantothenic acids also plays a role in maintaining healthy skin (currently used in the treatment of acne), assists in the formation of acetylcholine (an essential neurotransmitter) and helps increase physical endurance. Neurotransmitters relay nerve messages throughout the body in response to environmental and mental changes. They control appetite, sleep patterns and pain thresholds as well as many other body functions. Signs and symptoms of pantothenic acid deficiency include depression, personality changes, cardiac instability, frequent infection, fatigue, abdominal pains, sleep disturbances and neurological disorders including numbness, paresthesia (abnormal sensation such as “burning feet” syndrome), muscle weakness and cramps. Good sources of pantothenic acid include organ meats, eggs, fish and shellfish, lobsters, poultry, soybeans, lentils, split peas, milk, yogurt, eggnog, avocado, mushrooms and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin B6- Pyridoxine – Promotes red blood cell formation. Without proper amounts of Pyridoxine, the body has trouble manufacturing red and white blood cells, insulin and other hormones, adrenaline, antibodies, neurotransmitters and enzymes. Nervous system malfunctions evidenced by electroencephalography (brain wave function test) are among the earliest symptoms of vitamin B-6 deficiency. Severe deficiency may produce seizures, dermatitis and anemia. Frank deficiencies are rare, but subclinical deficiencies may exist, especially in women and the elderly. Vitamin B6 in conjunction with folate and vitamin B12 helps to lower plasma homocysteine, a risk factor for heart disease. Foods that contain Vitamin B6 include brown rice, soybeans, oats, whole grain products, kale, spinach, bananas, oatmeal and strawberries.
Vitamin B-12– Cobalamin – Prevents anemia, needed for cell formation, metabolism and digestion. Dementia, poor attention span, and depression may be early symptoms of Cobalamin deficiency. Foods with a high concentration of Vitamin B 12 are fortified cereals and liver.
Folic Acid – Folacin – Important in genetic, metabolic and nervous system processes. A deficiency of folate can result in improper protein breakdown causing decreased red blood cell formation. Decreased red blood cell formation leads can lead to anemia and GI tract problems. Foods that contain Folic Acid in high concentrations include yeast, green leafy vegetables, legumes, orange juice, spinach, asparagus, beets, brussel sprouts, romaine lettuce and cantaloupe.
Biotin-Vitamin H and Coenzyme R – Promotes healthy nails, hair and skin. Severe biotin deficiency causes loss of hair color, thinning of hair and eventually complete loss of hair. Occasionally, a rash erupts around the openings of the eyes, nose and mouth. Central nervous system abnormalities such as depression, lethargy, hallucinations, and paresthesia (abnormal sensation such as “burning feet” syndrome) occur in some cases of biotin deficiency. In patients on total intravenous feeding, an unusual distribution of facial fat coupled with the rash and hair loss produces a distinct appearance called “biotin deficiency facies. Foods with high concentration of biotin include soy, flour, cereals and yeast.
Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid – Both a water and fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin C works with your immune system as a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger. The role of ascorbic acid as a biological reducing agent may be linked to its prevention of degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cataracts and certain cancers. Severe ascorbic acid deficiency results in scurvy, characterized by swollen bleeding gums, weakness and fatigue, loosening of the teeth, bleeding into joints, tender and painful extremities, poor wound healing and psychological disturbances. Megadoses of ascorbic acid (1000-2000 mg) have been associated with gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances (nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea) and should be avoided in individuals with a history of renal stones due to oxalate formation or other diseases related to excessive iron accumulation. Foods that contain ascorbic acid are citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, green peppers, potatoes, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, watermelon, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, guava, pineapple, cantaloupe, and sweet red pepper.
Vitamin D – Calciferol – A fat-soluble hormone produced by the body whose major function is to increase the efficiency of intestinal calcium absorption and to mobilize calcium from the bone to maintain the serum calcium and phosphorus concentrations within the normal physiological range. Vitamin D has recently been shown to be valuable in treating the skin disease psoriasis. Deficiency symptoms include rickets in children, muscle weakness, bony deformities, muscle spasms of the larynx (laryngospasm) and hands (carpopedal spasm), generalized convulsions and tetany. Good food sources are milk properly fortified with vitamin D, fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, cod liver oil, fish liver oil, some breads and cereals, and some egg yolks. Five minutes of sunlight on hands and face, a few times per week gives your body a plentiful supply.
Vitamin E – Tocopherols and Tocotrienols – A fat-soluble antioxidant that protects against cancer, cataracts and heart disease. This vitamin comes in 2 main forms: D-alpha tocopherol and the super absorbable broad complex tocopherol and tocotrienol complex. The benefits of the popular dl-alpha tocopherol are suspect. Vitamin E deficiency occurs rarely in humans, having been reported in only two situations: premature infants with very low birth weight and patients who fail to absorb fat. Foods that contain Vitamin E are the whole grain products.
Vitamin K – Phylloquinone – A fat-soluble vitamin that helps with blood clotting and bone formation. Diminished levels of vitamin K, which is far more common than outright deficiency, may contribute to the progression of osteoporosis and atherosclerosis; research in these areas is promising but preliminary. The availability of vitamin K from different food sources and the effect of food processing is not fully known. A small amount of fat is needed for absorption. Foods that contain Vitamin K in appropriate amounts include green leafy vegetables, cooked dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli can provide more than one RDA in a single serving.
Calcium – The most popular mineral supplement on the market. Peak bone mass occurs at around age 20. Calcium is not just for your bones and teeth. It is also necessary for optimum muscle contractions, secretion of hormones, activation of certain enzymes in your system transmission of nerve messages and formation of blood clots. Calcium is released from the bone to maintain these necessary body functions. Over time, the calcium is being released faster than the body can regenerate it; this causes bone weakness. Calcium works together naturally with magnesium. Acute deficiency symptoms are avoided because of the large skeletal stores. Prolonged bone resorption from prolonged poor diet results in osteoporosis either by inadequate accumulation of bone mass during growth or increased rate of bone loss at menopause. Dietary calcium deficiency also has been associated with increased risk of high blood pressure and colon cancer. Foods that contain calcium include green leafy vegetables, bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, sweet potato, Chinese cabbage, molasses, legumes, beans (in general), white dried figs, raisins, naval oranges, almonds, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Since the FDA allows a label claim relating calcium to prevention of osteoporosis, some fortified foods have become available on the market.
Phosphorous – This essential mineral is found in all cells in the body. Primarily found in the bone (85%) and muscle (14%), Phosphorous is a major building block for proteins and nucleic acids ( DNA /RNA). Phosphorous is closely related to the body’s use of calcium. Due to the ease of phosphorous conversion by the kidneys, deficient levels rarely occur. Foods that contain Phosphorous include cereals, legumes, nuts, meat and eggs.
Potassium – Most of the body’s Potassium can be found in the muscle tissue (including the heart). Potassium protects against high blood pressure by insuring proper muscle dynamics and blood vessel integrity. It is an important component of proper cell membrane function. Deficient levels of Potassium are rare, but can occur and may cause heart problems. Foods high in potassium include bananas, cantaloupe, dates, honeydew melon, parsnips, potatoes, beets, green leafy vegetables, watermelon, winter squash and peaches.
Magnesium – An abundant mineral used in over 300 metabolic pathways by your body, including fat and protein metabolism as well as immune system function. Because the kidneys are extremely efficient in maintaining your body’s level of magnesium, a primary deficiency in healthy individuals is uncommon. Signs and symptoms of Magnesium deficiency is often observed in the presence of a predisposing disease state, such as severe malabsorption, chronic alcoholism, renal dysfunction, hyperparathyroidism, or the use of certain medications. Hypertension, arrhythmias, neuromuscular manifestations, and personality changes occur during deficiency. Foods high in Magnesium include unrefined grains, green leafy vegetables, spinach, legumes, tofu, oatmeal, cocoa and brown rice.
Iron – An essential nutrient that carries oxygen and forms part of the oxygen-carrying proteins, hemoglobin in red blood cells and myoglobin in muscle. Iron is essential for blood cell production, growth, immune system health and energy. Severe iron deficiency results in anemia with small, pale, red blood cells that have a low hemoglobin concentration. Iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy increases the risk of low birth weight and premature babies. Iron deficiency in young children is associated with behavioral abnormalities (such as reduced attention span) and reduced cognitive performance that may not be fully reversible by iron replacement. Severe iron deficiency anemia in adults impairs physical work capacity. In the US , iron deficiency anemia is relatively rare, but affects 5% of women 20 – 49 years old. Moderate iron deficiency without anemia is most common in 1 – 2 year-old children (9%), and females 12 – 49 years old (9 – 11%), reflecting rapid growth or menstrual iron loss, and is less common in other groups. Foods high in Iron include prunes, legumes, spinach, dried fruit, molasses, green leafy vegetables and tofu. People on certain medications for compromised immune health need to be careful with their iron intake. Iron will cancel out the effects of certain metabolic pathways.
Zinc – Highly concentrated in specialized areas of the brain, pancreas and adrenal gland, but is present in all cells, particularly in the nucleus. Important for immune, eye and reproduction system health. An early sign of zinc deficiency is decreased food intake. Chronic zinc deficiency in humans results in reduced growth (dwarfism) and sexual development, which are reversible by raising zinc intake. Growth, behavioral abnormalities and cognition may respond to zinc supplementation in some populations. Foods that contain Zinc in high quantities include unrefined grains, bran flakes, rice, corn, spinach, oatmeal and legumes.
L-Arginine – An essential amino acid that is responsible for keeping the blood vessel elasticity in a youthful state. If your blood vessels don’t carry the nutracueticals to the liver for processing, you don’t reap the benefits. L-Arginine is also helpful in promoting speedy wound healing, as it is an essential component for repairing bone and tissue damage.
L-Carnotine – A major cause of aging is the detioration of cell function, which results in the accumulation of cell debris and eventual cell death. The amino acid L-Carnotine helps to maintain proper cell function by assisting in the transfer of fat into the cell, in particular to the mitochondria of the cell. The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. The fat can be used for energy in a more prolific fashion when higher concentrations of L-Carnotine are present. Some people may experience mild to moderate sleep disorders when first taking this supplement.
Fiber – Comprised of mostly plant cell wall components, fiber is divided into two main categories-water soluble and water insoluble. Both are adequate for constipation, but the water-soluble form has many more benefits, including cholesterol lowering properties and the soothing of irritable bowel symptoms. Studies have shown that ingesting soluble fiber before or with meals decreases the insulin surge after eating.
Fiber works by delaying absorption in the stomach and intestines. This means that more of what you eat will end up in your toilet bowl. The less your body absorbs, the less you weigh. Fiber also gives you a full feeling in your stomach, meaning you eat less. The less you eat, the less you weigh. I recommend everyone over the age of 30 to take fiber supplements on a daily basis. Even if you’re regular, fiber will aid in keeping you that way. My personal favorite is a Psyllium supplement. Psyllium can be found in powder or capsule form. Remember, never take your fiber supplement with any other supplement. Because fiber delays absorption, you won’t get the benefit of your other supplements if taken with fiber.
Co-Q-10 – Coenzyme Q 10 (also known as vitamin Q 10 or Ubiquinone) is a compound that is made naturally in the body. Coenzyme Q 10 is used by cells to produce energy needed for cell growth and maintenance. It is also used by the body as an antioxidant. Coenzyme Q10 is found in most body tissues. The highest amounts are found in the heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. The lowest amounts are found in the lungs. Tissue levels of coenzyme Q10 decrease as people get older. Statin drugs have been shown to lower your levels of Co-Q-10. Because of this, I recommend anyone that is on a statin drug to lower their cholesterol to take CoQ-10 supplements everyday. The combination of Co-Q-10 and essential fatty acids (fish oil) is recommended for anyone over 30 to limit the amount of inflammation your body retains. Energy levels, cholesterol levels, blood pressure changes, diabetic changes and arthritic changes have all been shown to be better with the addition of Co-Q-10 supplementation.
Policosanol – A unique natural product derived from sugar-cane wax or bee’s wax. Research showed policosanol is effective at reducing cholesterol levels. Research also showed that policosanol reduces cardiac risk factors by inhibiting platelet aggregation, and inhibiting the development of atherosclerosis. A 2002 study published in the American Heart Journal reviewed more than 60 clinical trials of sugar-cane derived policosanol that involved more than 3000 patients, and concluded that policosanol is “a very promising phytochemical alternative to lipid-lowering agents such as statins.” These results suggest that policosanol is an effective way to control cholesterol levels without the side effects of many prescription medications.
Curcumin – The yellow pigment in the spice, turmeric, it has long been used as an herbal medicine, a seasoning & a dye in India & Southeast Asia. Curcumin has been shown to exhibits anti-inflammatory effects, inhibiting platelet clumping and prompting the dissolution of clots. Curcumin has potent antioxidant qualities and may protect against environmental pollutants, especially cigarette smoke. Some studies have shown that Curcumin, combined with soy products, may help prevent hormone-related cancers.
Green tea extract – A powerful anti-oxidant that has been used in Eastern medicine treatment plans for many centuries. Some studies have concluded that the anti-oxidant power of green tea is 1000 times more powerful than vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopherol). There has also been a positive correlation between green tea consumption and fat loss capabilities, cholesterol lowering properties, acne treatment and a variety of other healthy and beneficial areas.
Silibinin – Newly published research has shown that silymarin, an extract derived from milk thistle, should be placed with ginkgo, green tea, and grape seed extract as one of the indispensable, powerful anti-aging herbs. The most biologically active ingredient found in silymarin is silibinin. Standardized milk thistle extract usually consists of 35% silibinin, whereas the silymarin-concentrate drug used in Europe contains a minimum of 80% silibinin. Being able to obtain enough silibinin is of particular importance for those who need to insure effective dosage for the treatment of various liver diseases, such as cirrhosis or hepatitis C.Silibinin also has potential applications in the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney and pancreatic disorders, and other age-related conditions.
Garlic – Considered by many to be the wonder drug among nutraceuticals due to it’s wide variety of health benefits. Worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, garlic remains in high regard today by the countless number of people worldwide that use this incredible herb on a daily basis. There are many different ways to take garlic supplements including an odorless version for those sensitive to bad breath.
Gingko biloba – Long used in ancient and modern Chine medicine, gingko-biloba is a powerful antioxidant that targets the brain and blood vessels. By slowing down the aging process of the brain and “thinning” out the blood flow throughout the body, gingko-biloba should be considered part of everyone’s supplement program. Please check with your physician prior to going on gingko-biloba if you’re currently on a blood thinner or are scheduled for any surgical procedure.
DHEA – DHEA is the most prevalent of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands. After being secreted by the adrenals, it circulates in the bloodstream as DHEA-sulfate (DHEAS) and is converted as needed into other hormones. Many studies have concluded that supplementing with DHEA as we age can significantly lower our chances of acquiring many forms of cancer. A simple blood test performed by your physician can ascertain your DHEA level and help in your decision to start DHEA therapy.
Melatonin – Melatonin has many nutritional benefits including profound antioxidant properties. However, its main function in the body is to support the your bodies ability to sleep. The use of high purity melatonin is very important to insure safety.
Echinacea – Echinacea is best known for its ability to enhance immune function, and also has proven to offer other health benefits. Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, is native to the United States . While echinacea continues to have widespread use as a remedy for the common cold, its true potential for health benefits still remains to be fully understood.
Glucosamine Chondroitin – Both glucosamine and Chondroitin are found naturally in the body. They are responsible for cartilage formation and elasticity. Levels of these important amino acid like molecules decrease in percentage as we age. Supplements can be made from a variety of animals, including shrimp, crab and shark.
MSM – Commonly known for it’s usefulness as a supplement to relieve the pain of osteoporosis, MSM is becoming more widely used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to reduce soreness. MSM is found in pill form, combined with Glucosamine Chondroitin and in many ointments.
Omega 3 fatty acid – There are few disorders that the body suffers from that Omega 3’s can’t help. By reducing inflammation, Omega 3 fatty acids have shown promise in everything from dry eye syndrome, high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
Flax seed oil – Flax seed oil, and the antioxidants and the fiber in flax, all help to reduce circulatory problems, including triglycerides, cholesterol and plaque build-up. Flax is best known as a very healthy source of omega 3 fatty acids.
SAMe – SAM -e has been reported to play an important role in cartilage formation and repair, as well as an anti-depressive. It also has shown in a number of studies to bring arthritis pain relief comparable to that of NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naprosyn or ibuprofen) without their side effects.
Selenium – A powerful antioxidant that works well in low dosages (55 micrograms). The anti-aging properties are especially good for the eyes.
Chromium – Chromium has been reported to help regulate blood sugar levels, increase HDL and lower LDL levels thereby lowering total cholesterol levels.
St. John’s wort extract – St. John’s Wort is a plant (Hypericum perforatum: Hyperici herba), the leaf and flower which have been used for centuries to treat a variety of illnesses and conditions including anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric ailments. Other applications of St. John’s wort include sleep disorders, inflammation, infections, wound management and kidney conditions.
Lycopene – Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, is found in abundance in red tomatoes and processed tomato products. Lycopene has been reported to be helpful in preventing prostate cancer, heart disease and other serious diseases.
Quercetin – Quercetin appears to help fight a host of disorders, from asthma to cancer to heart disease. Quercetin may be a major reason why the old adage about eating “an apple a day” has been associated with good health as apples are a natural source of this helpful antioxidant.
Saw Palmetto – Commonly used as a supplement to control inflammation in the prostate gland. Other supplements that can be combined with saw palmetto are nettle seed and pygium.
CLA – Conjugated linoleic acid is used as a dietary supplement to help in weight loss. It has been reported to work by building lean muscle mass instead of fat deposition while transitioning from diet and lifestyle changes.
Lutein – Lutein (pronounced LOO-teen) is a carotenoid, meaning a natural pigment, found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, plus various fruits and corn. Egg yolks are also sources of lutein. Lutein has been linked to promoting healthy eyes through reducing the risk of macular degeneration as well as being good for promoting healthy skin.
Bilberry – The European form of the blueberry is loaded with antioxidants specific for blood vessel health. Bilberry can be found in pill form as well as liquid drops to be added to your favorite juice.
Glutathione – Glutathione is an amino acid that is an important part of the body’s antioxidant defense system. Glutathione is composed of three different amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Vitamins B 6 and riboflavin are critical for maintaining adequate levels of glutathione within the body. The body’s immune system relies on the antioxidant properties of Glutathione. Glutathione also recharges oxidized vitamin C so that the body may reuse it. Glutathione is required for a variety of metabolic processes.
N-Acetyl Cysteine – NAC helps the body synthesize glutathione, an important antioxidant. In animals, the antioxidant activity of NAC protects the liver from the adverse effects of environmental toxins. Supplementation with NAC has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer in people with recurrent polyps in the colon.