If you are a patient of mine, you know that I don’t “shotgun” any supplements. That is, I don’t ever just give out supplements because they’re “good for you” or because the “the book” or “experts” say they are the best for a particular condition. You know that I am extremely specific to my patient’s needs. I’m able to be extremely specific because I use muscle testing. Muscle testing allows me to have a “window” into the nervous system. Therefore, I can find out what nutrients my patients will respond to best, based on the outcome of the test.
That said – I’m still willing to talk about what I feel are the top 5 supplements for overall well-being. Please keep in mind that the order of importance for any given person will vary, even if they are just being used for general health. That’s because everyone lives a different lifestyle and is exposed to different stressors. Let’s begin:
#1 – Probiotics – These are more specifically known as acidophilus and bifidus, or “good” bacteria. There are in fact many different names for probiotics, as there are many different strains of good bacteria. The term probiotic means: pro- “for” biotic- “life”. Sounds like it should be in the top 5, doesn’t it? Essentially, we have hundreds of strains of bacteria in our intestines. Some of them are helpful, some are harmful. For optimal health, we need to strive for a balance between the helpful and harmful. Unfortunately, most people have too many harmful ones. The function of these good bacteria helps all of the following: the immune system; proper digestion and absorption; food allergy/sensitivity reduction; production of certain vitamins and nutrients- such as vitamin K, choline, fatty acids, and more; and prevention of bad bacteria/pathogens from overpopulating the gut.
#2 - Antioxidants – You’ve probably heard of these compounds. They essentially “quench” free radicals that are formed inside the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules (because of an unpaired electron in the outer shell) that can cause a domino-effect of damage to the cells. Free radicals will damage your DNA – the blueprint your genes use to express themselves healthfully. They are formed naturally through normal metabolic processes; however more sources of free radicals include poor food choices, certain prescription medications, environmental pollution, tobacco smoking (including second-hand), stress, ultraviolet light, oxygen and radiation. Also, don’t forget that a lack of sufficient antioxidant levels will perpetuate the damage from existing free radicals by failing to neutralize them. There are dozens of antioxidants. Some are even essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins A,C,E, and the minerals selenium and zinc to name a few. Some of my favorite antioxidants are grape seed extract, turmeric, rosemary, green tea extract, and alpha-lipoic acid.
#3 – Omega 3 (or 6) Fatty Acids - By now, everyone is talking about Omega 3′s, usually referring to fish oils. Keep in mind that there are plant-based sources also. Fish (and krill) is more easily used by the body, and we’ll discuss why that is another time. Your medical doctor may even be talking about fish oils. Why? Well, one reason is that they are essential fatty acids. “Essential” refers to the fact that they are essential to human health, but your body cannot make them with other nutrients you’ve eaten. They MUST be consumed in the diet, unlike certain other fatty acids which can be manufactured inside the body. Essential fatty acids have been found to be important for proper functioning of the immune, cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems. Also, did you realize that our brains are made up of roughly 60% fat – another great reason to make sure you’re not deficient in this vital nutrient. Most people consume enough (really too many) carbohydrates. Many people consume enough essential amino acids (protein). Very few people consume enough essential fatty acids, without supplementing. By the way, some people may need Omega 6 essential fatty acids more so than 3′s – don’t ever “shotgun” it, remember. Get checked!
4 – Vitamin D – This is another one of those supplements that is causing a lot of M.D.’s to jump on the band wagon. Well frankly, good for them, and more so for their patients. Relatively recently, this has been found to be an almost pandemic deficiency – especially in areas where people are not exposed to the sun for much of the year. Research on vitamin D seems to be growing at a rapid pace these days. So far it has been shown to treat or prevent osteoporosis (it’s necessary in absorbing calcium), infections (including colds and flu), diabetes, tuberculosis, inflammation, depression, and neurological disorders. That list barely gives vitamin D the credit it deserves. Get your blood levels checked! And get out in the sun, before summer is over.
5) – A Multi-mineral supplement – You must have noticed how I didn’t say a multi-vitamin supplement, although that would be fine to add as well. In my practice, I find that minerals are a much more common deficiency than vitamins. Minerals act as catalysts in the body. Essentially that means they drive chemical reactions. They do this partly by activating enzymes. So they are responsible for converting one chemical into another, which is really what makes all biochemical processes go around. If there were no minerals to drive reactions, our bodies would essentially stop in their tracks. In fact, they are even necessary for vitamins to work effectively because they help convert them from their inactive to their active form; so those vitamins can actually perform their proper biochemical role. I find deficiencies of all different types of minerals, daily. But if I had to choose only two, they would definitely be zinc and magnesium.
The 5 supplements above have been reviewed for general health. However, they can obviously address specific ailments for certain people. Again, if you have a specific health concern, it is most important to figure out exactly what you are deficient in, instead of throwing the whole kitchen sink at the problem. I do this through highly specific muscle tests, along with blood, urine, and saliva tests for all my patients. When people simply look things up in books (and “shotgun” their supplements), they often don’t work. Then, unfortnately, people lose faith and decide that supplements or alternatives are ineffective across the board. Figure out what your body needs, and you’ll see amazing results. Check back for more specific information on all of the above!
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology