We live in a drug oriented society. Unfortunately that means that certain important health information is filtered and poorly promoted. This commonly occurs in two areas:
Information about the benefits of nutritional supplements is suppressed
Information regarding the dangers of certain drugs is similarly suppressed
There was a study a few years ago that received limited press but is extremely important for anyone trying to avoid disease and prolong a healthy life. Yes, that would include most of us!
In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers discovered that a marker of aging could be slowed with use of multiple vitamin supplements and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Specifically they analyzed telomeres – the protective end caps of chromosomes.
A chromosome is a threadlike structure found in all cells that transmits genetic information, otherwise known as your book of life. The telomere protects the chromosome. As cells reproduce telomeres become shorter, and the shorter they become the more likely the body they reside in will develop a chronic disease or die.
So anything that retains telomere length is truly anti-aging and protective of good health. This particular study evaluated 586 women ages 35 to 74. The patients were questioned as to their dietary and supplement habits and their blood was tested to evaluate the telomere length of their white blood cells’ DNA.
The participants reported the following supplement use:
• 65% used multivitamins at least once per month, and of this group,
• 74% used multivitamins daily
The results were that those who used multivitamins daily had over 5% longer telomeres than those who didn’t.
Interestingly, increased length of telomeres was associated with use of multivitamins (a complex of Bs, antioxidants and minerals) but not with stress-tabs or B complex consumption only. In other words the presence of minerals and antioxidants seemed to be needed to confer benefit.
Further, vitamins C and E, well known for their anti-oxidant potential, were similarly protective against loss of telomere length. What does this mean? The answer may lie in what specifically damages telomeres. The researchers explained that a process known as oxidative stress, was particularly damaging. Oxidative stress occurs during periods when the body is overwhelmed by toxins, stress and/or poor nutrition.
In a nutshell, the Standard American Diet and a stressful lifestyle causes inflammation that in turn causes oxidative stress, leading to degenerative disease (think heart disease, diabetes and obesity). The inflammation created is an added source of damage in that it not only causes the negative oxidative stress just mentioned but it decreases the activity of an enzyme that is responsible for maintaining telomeres. That’s correct, the human body is very capable of repairing itself when it’s functioning normally.
However, what we see today with our current eating habits and less than healthy lifestyle choices, its reparative ability is stymied and all but halted. Certain antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals, when taken together can really reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Realize that taking such actions are factually increasing the lifespan of your cells and preventing disease!
As a clinical nutritionist, this knowledge is not new news to me. However, I don’t think it can ever be overstated how important what you choose to eat and how you supplement your diet is to overall health and disease prevention. Michael Pollan, author of several books including “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, has stated that you don’t need to take supplements but you should strive to be the ‘kind of person’ who takes supplements.
Sounds cryptic, I know, but what he meant was that people who take supplements regularly are, in the main, people who take better care of themselves and eat better than those who don’t take supplements regularly. So his thought is to be that person, eat very well, and you won’t need supplements.
Personally, and based on clinical experience, I only partially agree with him. If I had to pick one: as in good food OR supplements, I would always pick good food. Why? Because the majority of your nutrients come from what you eat.
The best supplement in the world cannot replace a poor diet. But the best choice, I believe, due to our less than perfect food system and high stress levels, is to do both – eat a superb diet AND take an excellent multivitamin plus antioxidant supplement.
The multiple and antioxidant combination we use here in the clinic is the best I have found so far. It was developed by a nutritional pharmacist who is a brilliant biochemist. She created the supplements after years of study and working tirelessly to achieve an ideal formulation that supports the functions of the human body. If you take nothing else I truly believe that you should take these two supplements. Why are there two? Because it was physically impossible to fit all that nutrition into one tablet. The multiple is called Optimal Daily Allowance and the antioxidant formula is called Body and Vision. I hope you found this informative.
Here at HealthNOW we are committed to helping you find the ‘care and feeding manual’ that best suits your body. We utilize many tools to achieve this goal but that is our purpose – to increase your health and longevity so that you can enjoy the life you choose to lead. What is your experience? Can you tell a difference when you eat well and take supplements? Have you tried to do one vs the other? How did you feel? I look forward to hearing from you.
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To your health,
Dr. Vikki Petersen
IFM Certified Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”