• What are the top ten nutritional supplements for women?

    January 3, 2013
    Dr. Carter

    Dr. Carter

    Talking Health with Dr. Carter

    1. Multivitamin-mineral formula (MVM), supplements contain a combination of vitamins and minerals, and sometimes other ingredients as well. They go by many names, including multis and multiples or simply vitamins. The vitamins and minerals in MVMs have unique roles in the body.

    2. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in some foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun. The body also needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal. In addition, vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps the immune system work properly to protect the body from disease.

    3. Vitamin D is a nutrient found in some foods that is needed for health and to maintain strong bones. It does so by helping the body absorb calcium (one of bone’s main building blocks) from food and supplements. People who get too little vitamin D may develop soft, thin, and brittle bones, a condition known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. Vitamin D is found in cells throughout the body.

    4. Vitamin E is found naturally in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. “Vitamin E” is the collective name for a group of fat-soluble compounds with distinctive antioxidant activities. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that stops the production of ROS formed when fat undergoes oxidation. In addition to its activities as an antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in immune function and, as shown primarily by in vitro studies of cells, cell signaling, regulation of gene expression, and other metabolic processes

    5. Vitamin K2 cleans calcium deposits from your arteries and deposits it in your bones, and you have most likely never heard of it. It’s almost like the old good news/bad news jokes. The good news is Vitamin K2 has been clinically proven to provide extraordinary benefits for bone health and cardiovascular health, plus it is a powerful anti-oxidant and some emerging science indicates it might help your joints and intestinal health. Now for the bad news. It costs $1.5 million per kilogram so most supplement companies find it is not cost effective to include in their formulas. As long as we can buy a house and a Ferrari for the price of a kilo of K2, it may remain a secret that is relegated to research papers. However, natto, a typical breakfast food in Japan, is made from steamed and fermented soy beans. Its use in Japan dates back hundreds of years to the age of samurais who believed it increased their strength and quickened their reflexes. In the last ten years several studies have found natto, containing the active component vitamin K2, to increase bone mineral density and reduce bone fractures.

    6. Calcium is a mineral found in many foods. The body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions. Almost all calcium is stored in bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and hardness. The body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part. In addition, calcium is used to help blood vessels move blood throughout the body and to help release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body.

    7. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is essential to good health. Approximately 50 percent of total body magnesium is found in bone. The other half is found predominantly inside cells of body tissues and organs. Only 1 percent of magnesium is found in blood, but the body works very hard to keep blood levels of magnesium constant. Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. There is an increased interest in the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Dietary magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines. Magnesium is excreted through the kidneys.

    8. Strontium is a common element which is naturally found in your bones. Studies show supplementation with strontium in its various forms is well tolerated and completely safe. Strontium lies directly below calcium on the periodic table of elements and that makes calcium, strontium and magnesium all in the same chemical family. They are all naturally occurring metals found in the soil, in foods, and in your body. As an alkaline earth element, strontium is similar to calcium in its absorption in the gut, incorporation in bone, and elimination from the body through the kidneys. Strontium is naturally present in trace amounts with around 100 micrograms in every gram of bone, so when you supplement with strontium you are simply making more of this element available for incorporation into your bone.

    9. Fish oil is oil derived from the tissues of oily fish. Fish oils contain the omega- 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), precursors of certain eicosanoids that are known to reduce inflammation throughout the body, and have other health benefits. The omega- 3 fatty acids in fish oil are thought to be beneficial in treating hypertriglyceridemia, and possibly beneficial in preventing heart disease.

    10. Adaptogen is a metabolic regulator which increases the ability of an organism to adapt to environmental factors, and to avoid damage from such factors. Environmental factors can be either physiological (external), such as injury or aging, or psychological (internal), such as anxiety. An adaptogen must have a normalizing effect, i.e., counteracting or preventing disturbances to homeostasis brought about by stressors. Moreover, it must be innocuous with a broad range of therapeutic effects without causing any major side effects. The adaptogen concept does not fit easily into the Western model of medicine.

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