Let me be clear about this: Health does NOT come from a bottle. We need to be very careful with how we interpret the compelling advertising or the convincing stories we hear. There are no such thing as magic pills or super potions that can make you healthy. It all comes down to how your body uses these nutrients!
Let’s remember the purpose of food - to fulfill the nutrients requirements your body NEEDS for optimal function and performance. This is true for all animals. Hands down, the best way to fulfil your nutrient requirements is from real, whole foods.This means both macronutrients (protein, fats, carbs) AND micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
What happens when the availability of certain nutrients is limited because of what we eat?
When is it appropriate to supplement? How do you know which supplements you need?
I’ll get to answering these questions but lets first address the root question:
What dictates our body’s requirements for certain nutrients over others?
The answer is: Time!
Well its a combination of time and how the human body has changed over thousands of years. Meaning, what we consider nutrient requirements for humans today have been determined by the foods our bodies have become adapted to over the last thousands of years and our bodies largely expect these nutrients.
We understand this when it comes to the diet of our dog or cat. Some of these nutrients are so important to the body that we literally cannot function properly without them. Hence these are termed ‘essential.’ Essential amino acids (proteins), essential fatty acids (fats) and essential vitamins and minerals.
Our purpose of diet and eating is to fulfill the body’s nutrient requirements in the most efficient way possible with the least amount of toxicity.
Here the problem…
Starting with the Agricultural Revolution 10 thousand years ago, followed by the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago and now the Technological Revolution of the part 50 years, there have been some key changes in our food supply affecting our ability to easily meet our requirements with real food.
There is an increased reliance on grains and grain products.
There is a decrease in the diversity of plant species we eat.
There is a decrease in the nutrient density of food.
There is an increase in exposure of food and the environment to toxins.
A dramatic reduction in animal fat consumption.
There is an overuse of antibiotics, steroids and other medications used in agriculture that damage our guts and digestive system.
Not to mention there is a dramatic increase in long-term low grade stress that dramatically effects all aspects of our health. These are just a few of the factors that significantly reduce and disrupt our food supply and its nutrient profile.This is the reason I recommend these 3 ESSENTIAL supplements to give your body everything it needs.
Based on the research, pretty much EVERY North American is deficient in these 3 things.
Yes it is possible to get enough of these nutrients from eating good quality food and having enough sun exposure but it is extremely difficult at best. Yes, the nutrient supplement marketplace is an over-populated, under-regulated industry and quality varies widely, despite what the market is telling you. Fortunately, I have taken out the guess work and provided you with my recommendations.
1.OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Historically, we obtained our essential fatty acids (Omega 3,6 and 9) from dietary sources of wild game, seafood, grubs and insects (I know!). While all 3 are essential our body expects to have a ratio of 1:1 to 1:2 between omega 3 and omega 6.This allows our body and cells to work in an optimal state.
With our modern grain-fed food supply, and high content of refined vegetable oils rich in omega 6, we have completely altered this critical balance of Omega 3: Omega 6 ratio. Most North Americans have anywhere from 1:20 up to 1:50 in favour of Omega 6! This means that for every unit of omega 3 in our body there is upwards of 20-50 times the number of omega 6. This drives the body towards a systemic PRO-INFLAMMATORY state. Since we know that systemic inflammation sits at the root of almost all chronic health problems; this is a big deal.
Supplementing your diet with pure, pharmaceutical-grade fish oils has been proven in the research to be the best way to re-balance this important ratio in our body. Be sure to reel in the omega 6 consumption by monitoring what you eat (i.e. processed foods, refined vegetable oils etc. - more on this topic later). A restored ratio is key - not just adding more Omega 3 to try and fix a bad diet.
If you are a vegetarian - you will have a harder time meeting this requirement but it is doable. Speak to your doctor to learn more about the BEST sources.
How much do you need?
I recommend 2-4 grams (2000-4000mg) of total EPA/DHA per day. This means, depending on your diet, you may need to supplement 1000-1500mg/day. I want to make sure you’re following me here - you should have some dietary source of omega 3 each day and you are just supplementing the remainder to achieve that 2-4 grams recommended.
2. VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is ESSENTIAL for your Health. With over 3000 binding sites for Vitamin D in every cell, we are clearly designed to spend time in the sun to supply our bodies with rays that help in the production of this vital pro-hormone.
Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle rarely allows for such regular sun exposure for most of us - especially in our northern climates. Getting a minimum of 20 mins/day with at least 70% skin exposure to sunlight in the middle of February is going to be pretty tough!
On top of this - except for fatty ocean fish, there is very little Vitamin D in any commonly consumed foods.
How much do you need?
The best way to determine this would be to determine your current blood levels of Vitamin D. For optimization, your blood levels should sit between 35-50ng/mL. Most of us don’t have access to this information but the research tells us that the majority of Canadians fall seriously short.
My recommendations for children under the age of 1 can begin with 1000 IU/day increasing about 25IU/lb of body weight until they reach the full “adult dosage.” Some people will need more for a period of time, however, typically I recommend 4000-6000 IU/Day for adults to maintain levels in an adequate rand for normal physiological function.
I recommend: Prairie Naturals Vitamin D3
When it comes to Vitamin D supplements, absorption is the key factor. In nature, vitamin D always comes packaged in fat (i.e. fat soluble vitamin) so it makes sense to take the supplement made in the same way.
Prairie Naturals incorporates the most biologically available form of vitamin D and they blend it in an olive oil (called emulsion) allowing your body to absorb as much vitamin D as it needs.
Although this isn’t a nutrient, per se, these little guys are essential to both your digestive system and your IMMUNE system.In fact - did you know that you have more bacteria cells in (and on) your body than you do human cells?
The majority of these bacteria are found in your guy and perform important functions - many of which we are still learning. Historically, we would have developed a healthy gut flora (another way of saying the good gut bacteria) starting with the natural birthing process. Then as we aged, we were more exposed to bacteria in the environment from other animals, the foods we ate and playing in the dirt.
The problem today is that we don’t eat enough dirt! Seriously! We wash everything. Therefore, we kill off many of our healthy bacteria with poor nutrition, prescription drugs, anti-bacterial products and highly stressful lifestyles. For these reasons, it is wise to supplement a probiotic.
How much do you need?
I recommend beginning with a broad spectrum probiotic, 10-30 billion CFU/day.
I recommend: CanPrev Pro-Biotik 15B
Human Micro Flora (HMF) are human derived strains of bacteria which adhere better to our digestive tract and work faster than other non-human derived probiotics such as those grown in dairy or other animal stains.
What about all the others Supplements?
If you are eating real, nutritious food, you shouldn’t be concerned about supplementing with other nutrients. Remember that the ONLY reason you should be supplementing in the first place is to ensure you are meeting your body’s requirements for optimal performance.
If you have any further questions about the 3 Essential Supplements everyone needs or other supplements you may be interested in taking please let me know! I’d be happy to provide you with my opinion!
Dr. Alfredo is an health enthusiast who’s goal is to help people and families live healthier, happier lives. My philosophy on health is simple - our body’s have the amazing ability and potential to self-adapt, self-regulate and THRIVE in this world.