There are numerous different approaches to supplementing our food intake with vitamins and extracts. Some experts recommend taking loads and loads of pills, while there are others that don’t believe in supplements at all. As you might expect, I don’t believe that one approach fits all. For example, if you regularly go on holiday and also eat lots of oily fish, nuts and seeds, then there might be no need to take vitamin D tablets. However, if you rarely reveal your body to the sun, and don’t receive sufficient amounts of vitamin D in your diet, then you most definitely would be wise to take it in the form of a supplement. And Public Health England have recently recommended us Brits take a vitamin D supplement throughout the autumn and winter months, as we can pretty much guarantee living in this beautiful country unfortunately means we won’t be getting enough vitamin D. Another example would be if someone eats chicken and eggs straight after a workout, then there would be little need for an additional protein shake.
When it comes to vitamins, other than water-soluble vitamin C and all of the Bs, as long as say over a ten-day period we ingest roughly ten times the recommended daily amount, then the aggregation will be fine. Sunbathing is a great example. A one-week holiday in the sun with careful exposure can help our body accumulate enough vitamin D for several months.
My view on supplementing is quite simple: Eat foods rich in nutrients and fill any nutritional, vitamin or mineral shortfalls with reputable supplements.
Everyone is different, so when it comes to supplements, without knowing you personally, it’s difficult for me to recommend exactly which ones you should make part of your daily life. If you have both the time and the cash, you can go and have your blood and even your poo profiled. But, for most people just making an educated guess about what is right will be enough to help booster your wellbeing and longevity. And remember, what we are talking about here is not drugs, nor medication, but nutrition.
But aren’t supplements dangerous, especially if I take too many? Interestingly, the American Association of Poisonous Control Centre, an organisation that monitors the causes of death each year in the USA, state that over the last 35 years of keeping records, there have been just 13 allegations that vitamins were a cause of death, yet not one of them was ever substantiated.
Furthermore, Canadian biochemist Abram Hoffer said flatly, “Nobody dies from vitamins”. Compare that with prescribed drugs, which many experts now believe to be the third largest cause of death, after cancer and heart disease. I am not for one minute belittling prescribed medication, because in many instances they prolong life, I am just trying to highlight as powerfully as possible that vitamins and minerals are simply good nutrition, but just in a different form.
In order to achieve optimal nutrition, let me summarise the use of supplements with four thoughts:
- Dr Carl C Pfeiffer said, “For every drug that benefits a patient, there is a natural substance that can achieve the same effect”. While I don’t believe this is always the case post-diagnosis, I do believe that nearly all Westernised illnesses are caused in the main by poor nutrition.
- Nutritional based medicine (orthomolecular medicine – meaning normal) is non-toxic, whereas pharmaceutical medicine, in the main, tends to be toxic (toxi- molecular).
- Even though natural, herbal, nutritional medicine has been around since antiquity, as you can’t patent a vitamin or a mineral, huge corporations don’t get behind them. And, if huge corporations don’t get behind them, there is nobody to promote their use to doctors.
- ‘Vit’ in the word vitamins, is derived from the Latin ‘vita’, meaning life, as in vital for life. As in if we don’t get enough from our diet we could die!
Author Patrick HolfordI was taught by the late Linus Pauling to always follow the logic. It’s the logic that counts. Randomised controlled trials, they come later. And I have realised in life that if you follow the logic of things, you get to the truth. And if you want to know why we are all so messed up and sick, you just follow the money. The logic is the light, and the money is the greed and the dark. Years back, we had the erroneous belief that once you had the evidence, everything would change. And now we have got the evidence, and it is not changing for the fundamental reason that you can’t patent a nutrient. If you can’t patent it, you don’t get a monopoly, and you can’t charge exorbitant amounts of money. If it wasn’t for the ability to patent a drug and not patent a nutrient, we wouldn’t be consuming all of these vast quantities of pharmaceutical drugs. We would be dealing with the fundamental underlying causes of most of these diseases, which is sub-optimal nutrition
Some of the Supplements That I Take
For all the adults in my family and to all my friends, I always recommend that they take the following five as a base; a multivitamin, omega 3, turmeric, magnesium and a strong probiotic. To me even without analysing their current diet, these are a no- brainer. To provide you with a further example of what supplements you might want to take, I will now explain what I take to help optimise my nutrition, and the logic behind my selection. Some might not be necessary for you and there might be others that you as an individual would benefit from taking. But hopefully it will show you my thought process and act as a catalyst to help you plan your supplementation.
These are the current supplements I take daily:
Combined multi-mineral and multi-vitamin tablet
Glucomannan & Inulin (SlimShotz)
Our caveman ancestor had a diet rich in omega 3. He loved eating whole animals, especially omega 3-rich brains! He didn’t face the problem of factory manufactured beef, sourced from cornfed antibiotic-injected cattle, with its resulting omega 3:6 balance artificially adjusted from a healthy 1:1 ration to a noxious 1:7 ratio.
If every night you eat oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies and sardines and then consume a pack of walnuts as your daily snack, then you might be one of the exceptional few who don’t need to take omega 3 supplements. If you’re not a fishy person, then taking omega 3 will almost definitely improve your health. I personally eat loads of oily fish and love nuts, but still take an organic cold-water sourced omega 3 capsules every morning. For me, omega 3 is a must-have supplement.
In his book Super Fuel, Dr James DiNicolantonio writes at length about the benefits of fish-based omega 3 on reducing the chances of having a heart attack. He displays lots of research and statistics to back this up and says, “If a pharmaceutical company could develop a drug with those kinds of benefits, it would be a gold mine that would no doubt cost you a fortune”. He goes on to say, “The incidence of sudden cardiac death in the general population of Western countries is almost twenty times higher than in Japan. The average omega 3 index in Japan is ten per cent, compared to just 4.5 per cent in Western countries”.
If you don’t want to take a supplement derived from fish, then flaxseed oil makes a perfectly good substitute.
Omega Options - There are three different types of omega 3 (which is not related to the fact it is called omega 3). They are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is primarily sourced from plants, such as seeds and nuts. When animals such as cows, fish and us humans consume ALA, we convert some of it into EPA and DHA. Oily fish like salmon convert it best. EPA and DHA are the two types of omega 3 fatty acids that are the most superior for our health. While the human body can convert a certain amount of ALA into EPA and DHA, it’s not super-efficient at doing so. It is for this reason, even though we might consume enough omega 3 by eating plenty of nuts and seeds, that we still need our oily fish or algae supplements to directly deliver EPA and DHA.
But why is it so important for our health? Omega 3, particularly those rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is quite simply food for the brain. In fact, one of the key components in the brain is docosahexaenoic acid, and for those of us who were breastfed, our mother’s milk was loaded with it. It’s not just about prevention either, in some instances omega 3 can cure certain brain disorders! But surely this can’t be true, because aren’t we supposed to be stuck with the same brain cells throughout our entire life? Recent scientific research has turned this belief on its head. It now appears that we can grow new brain cells on a daily basis through a process known as neurogenesis. The area where neurogenesis is most effective is the hippocampus. This is the area of the brain that is responsible for storing long-term memories and learning new things.
I could list dozens and dozens of other amazing health benefits we receive from taking a quality omega 3 supplement daily, but I would just be diluting this one very important advantage: it is an essential fuel for an active brain.
When it comes to selecting the right omega 3 supplement, it’s time to become a quality fanatic. While most soft gel omega 3 capsules on the market today are 1,000mg (1 gram), the concentration of the good stuff, EPA and DHA, can sometimes be woefully low. It always pays to check the labels when buying supplements. With omega 3, there is also a danger of the supplement originating from highly toxic fish, full of mercury and other potentially harmful metals.
Dr James DiNicolantonio
Omega 3 is very important for the brain, especially DHA. The brain is highly concentrated in DHA; in fact, our ancient ancestors used to consume the brains of lots of animals. DHA is even more concentrated in the brain than salmon. It’s very important for retinal function, for neuron function, growing new neurons and one of the best ways to get it is fresh wild seafood. Canned seafood is okay, but the problem with canned sardines and canned tuna, not to say that eating those are bad for your health, is that the heat used in the canning process can reduce the benefits. You could also take fish oil supplements, make sure it’s a highly regulated supplement, where they test for low oxidisation products, is a great way as well.
From the same family as ginger, turmeric is a brilliant anti-inflammatory herb that can either be consumed as a supplement or used to spice up your food. While tablets and supplement manufacturers often claim their products are ten to 100 times more potent than you would put in your homemade curry, if you are not a big fan of taking too many supplements, then heaping it on your chicken or beef is still very beneficial.
Supplements are made up of a compound found in turmeric called curcumin and
not turmeric itself. There are more than 5,000 medical articles and pieces of research online, many claiming turmeric to be the most powerful herb on the planet. The benefits of turmeric could fill an entire book (many books actually – Amazon alone has 301 books with turmeric in their title). Let’s look at some of the main benefits of this incredible herb:
- Reduces chronic joint pain
- Reduces the pain of arthritis
- Can boost low energy levels
- It can slow and even prevent blood clotting
- For those that suffer side effects from Ibuprofen, curcumin is a godsend
- In 2009, Auburn University of Alabama published a report that explored how taking turmeric supplements can help reverse type 2 diabetes
- It is a powerful anti-inflammatory
- It helps decrease memory loss
- Medical studies have demonstrated that it helps to prevent certain cancers
- It has one of the highest antioxidant scores (see ORAC scale in the colour insert)
I personally love nuts, seeds, spinach, avocado and many other foods that are rich in magnesium and I consume them regularly. That said, I still don’t feel that I regularly eat the 500 to 600mg that I believe I need. Why am I saying 500 to 600mg if the recommended daily allowance for my age, as suggested in the earlier chart, indicates 420mg? The more active we are, and the more we exercise, the quicker we deplete our mineral stores. With magnesium’s benefits to health being so vast, I take a supplement every day. For those who don’t like taking them, you can always buy bath salts rich in magnesium and, in addition to all of the other long-term benefits, your muscles will become relaxed, especially after exercising.
As magnesium helps us get a better night’s sleep, it’s the one supplement I like to consume just before I go to bed. To ensure I don’t forget to take it, I store it in my bathroom next to my toothbrush, and not in the kitchen.
If you are unsure of whether you are getting enough magnesium, calcium and zinc in your diet, consider that, in 2005, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that 73.3% of Americans were not meeting the daily RDA of zinc, 65.1% were deficient in calcium and 61.6% were not consuming enough magnesium.
Patrick Holden CBE
Because we haven’t crop rotated properly with livestock since the end of the second world war when nitrogen fertilisers became available, the fertility of our soil has reached a critically low level. Nearly all
the vegetables we eat in the UK today are coming from a vegetable monoculture where they grow vegetables year after year, or pretty intensively, at the expense of the soil fertility and the expense of the mineral and trace element composition. And there are studies to show that the mineral and trace element composition of vegetables that we are eating today has gone down by 50% since the second world war.
Once you have started eating fermented foods in your weekly routine, if you feel the need to take a probiotic supplement, then in his book Brain Maker, author Dr David Perlmutter suggests that it’s advisable to purchase probiotics that contain the following helpful bacteria: Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Bifidobacterium lactis and Bifidobacterium longum.
Some brands claim their products contain thousands of different bacteria, but my concern with these is that the more they contain, the smaller the dose of each one. Aim for brands that contain ten to 20 different strands, and if they contain all five recommended by Dr David Perlmutter, all the better. Make sure you don’t wash these down with unfiltered tap water, or there is every chance that the chlorine in the water will kill off the helpful bacteria before they arrive in the gut!
This is the preferred food source for our mitochondria and our heart too. Our primal ancestors ingested lots of it when they consumed entire animals, as coenzyme Q10 is found primarily in the heart, kidneys and liver. Smaller doses can be found in sardines, mackerel and peanuts and even smaller amounts in vegetables such as spinach, cauliflower and broccoli.
Our body naturally creates a certain amount of coenzyme, and for this reason it is not considered a vitamin. However, we get less and less efficient at producing it as we age, and therefore can’t provide our hearts and cells with the amount they need to stay healthy.
Therefore, if you’re not a big organ/offal eater, and you are more than 40 years of age, you might need to consume this in the form of a supplement. There is no NRV for coenzyme Q10, and I guess this is because it’s difficult to identify how much of it our body produces naturally. Dr Jonny Bowden, in his book The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth, suggests that once we pass the age of 40, we should consume at least 60 to 100mg daily. And for those with a family history of heart disease, or those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, he recommends taking between 100 and 300mg daily.
The US National Library of Medicine suggests that coenzyme Q10 supplements may be useful in the treatment of high blood pressure, muscular dystrophy, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, migraines, certain mitochondrial disorders and HIV/AIDS. However, don’t take coenzyme Q10 supplements if you are pregnant or less than 18 years old. In a nutshell, coenzyme Q10:
- Reduces blood pressure
- Is good for the heart
- Energises our cells
- Acts as a powerful antioxidant
In Japan, to reduce both heart disease and high blood pressure, approximately 10% of the population are reported to be talking Q10 medication on the advice of their doctors or medical professionals. If you are stressed or take statins, then you almost definitely would benefit from taking coenzyme Q10.
Health Specialist Ivor Cummins
If you are on statins, there is one supplement you must take, and that is coenzyme Q10. And, if you have an established disease and you are not sure of the cause, you should also be taking coenzyme Q10, and all the key vitamins and minerals.
Combined Multi-Mineral and Multivitamin Tablet
A multivitamin tablet is the first step in the direction of optimising nutrition. With a quality multivitamin tablet costing less than 20 pence per day, they really are a no- brainer. While I always try to eat as healthily as possible, I don’t want to risk falling short on any of the minerals my body relies on to function.
So, for the past two years, I have started to take a combined multi-mineral and multi- vitamin tablet that has been specifically formulated for men over 50. For females out there, don’t worry – there are plenty of different options for you too. Why are age-specific multivitamins a better choice? Because as we age, we absorb and process certain vitamins differently and therefore it is necessary to alter the dosages.
I take one effervescent vitamin C tablet in the morning and use the drink to help take my other supplements. I then have one in the afternoon. As the EU upper tolerance is set at 2 grams, that’s all I should really recommend. That said, the reality is that I take a lot more. How about this as an interesting fact... According to Dr Suzanne Humphries, a cow makes around 12 grams of vitamin C per day. The average-sized goat produces around 13 grams of vitamin C per day and a sick goat, to fight of toxins, produces up to 100 grams per day. That’s a lot of vitamin C!
In fact, we are one of just a few species on our planet that can’t produce it ourselves. Dr Suzanne therefore claims that the amount we are recommended to take by the authorities, is a gross under estimation.
But isn’t it dangerous if I take more? To answer this question, I would recommend
you watch a video on YouTube by Dr Andrew Saul, where he is giving a lecture at the Riordan Clinic. In it he says that according to the American Association of Poisonous Control Centre, there has not even been a single reported death from over doing vitamin C, even though many people are taking doses 100s of times greater than that recommended by authorities. He then goes on to say that doctors should insist on high dose vitamin C – while they ponder the right medicine for almost any illness.
But please don’t rush out and start taking mega doses of vitamin C as you might experience gastric discomfort and diarrhoea. Start with 1gram per day and then maybe extend to two. Beyond that I can’t in print recommend that anyone goes beyond the EU’s guidelines!
Author Patrick Holford
All animals make vitamin C, except for fruit-eating bats, the Red-Vented Bulbul bird, guinea pigs and primates. The animals that do make vitamin C don’t get colds, and they don’t get cancer. I’m in my 60s and I have never suffered from a cold for more than 12 hours, because the second I get the first signs of an infection I take one gram, or sometimes two grams to kick it off, every single hour, because you need to get your vitamin C level really high, because it is antiviral. But one of the hottest areas in cancer medicine is intravenous vitamin C; it’s effectively safe chemotherapy.
Glucomannan and Inulin (SlimShotz)
When I wrote my first health book, it was prior to us developing the Primal SlimShotz product. While SlimShotz is primarily designed to help people lose weight, regardless of what my bathroom scales are telling me, I take it daily because it both stops me from feeling like I am missing out on snacks and also helps up my fibre intake. Its two main ingredients are indeed fibre superstars.
We have already discussed glucomannan under the subject of fibre, but let me expand on it a little bit more. Glucomannan is an almost magical ingredient from nature. It is extracted from the root of the Konjac plant and has been clinically proven to aid weight loss. In fact, it is the only ingredient to be officially recognised by the EU Commission to contribute to helping us lose weight. A natural plant fibre, in our stomach it expands up to 50 times its weight making us feel full.
Taken before a meal, it reduces our appetite and for some people, such as me, it completely removes the desire to eat snacks. When we consume more than 4g per day, the European Food Safety Authority also confirm that it helps us maintain normal blood cholesterol levels.
How does it work? Glucomannan is a soluble viscous fibre, which dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance. Viscous fibres are found in the walls of plant cells and have the ability to expand like a sponge. When you take a SlimShotz drink, followed by sufficient water, the glucomannan gel continues to expand inside the stomach. Our receptors on sensing this fullness, trigger our satiety hormone known as leptin. If we then eat a meal approximately 30 minutes to an hour later, we consume less food as the brain already has received a signal to say its full. Plus, there is physically less room in the stomach too. It’s kind of like a natural gastric band! Glucomannan also acts as a prebiotic, feeding our guts friendly bacteria. Furthermore, once past the stomach, and inside the intestines, the fibre slows the process of breaking down food, which in turn reduces the glycaemic index of the entire meal, in other words slowing down the release of sugar into the bloodstream. As a result, this means that the body doesn’t need to release as much of the fat building hormone insulin.
Now, let’s discuss inulin (I know it sounds like insulin, but inulin is a very different thing). If glucomannan is king of the prebiotic world, then the god would be inulin. Our friendly gut bacteria are said to have a feeding frenzy when it arrives. They convert it into short chain fatty acids, which nourish colon cells and provide a multitude of other health benefits. Interestingly, the diverse diets of our cavemen ancestors, included far more roots (inulin is from the roots of the chicory plant and glucomannan from the root of the Konjac plant) and therefore far more fibre was consumed than in the modern diet.
But inulin is far more than just a prebiotic. During Angela Rippon’s ‘How To Stay Young’ programme, they mentioned how inulin helps to reduce internal fats (visceral fats). Then during Dr Michael Mosley’s ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ programme, he discusses how inulin helps us get a good night’s sleep.
Over the last few years, you have probably read or heard about CBD. CBD is one of the compounds known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis or marijuana plant. Yes, I mentioned the word marijuana! But don’t think that CBD is going to be making you high. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis and causes the sensation of getting ‘high’ that is often associated with marijuana. However, unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, making CBD an appealing option for those who are looking for relief from pain and other symptoms without the mind-altering effects of marijuana or certain pharmaceutical drugs.
Is it primal? Actually, yes! You see, it is most likely that our distant ancestors consumed plenty of CBD via the ruminants they ate which often grazed on hemp. But how does CBD help reduce pain? In the early 1990s, scientists discovered that there is an endocannabinoid system within the human body, which as well as helping us maintain homeostasis, is also involved in many processes, such as pain, mood, stress, sleep and our immune system.
I personally take CBD to relieve pain in my right knee, which is the ongoing result of the surgery I had many years ago, and while I am generally laid back anyway, I feel it relaxes me even further.
Supplements and Weight Loss
Could taking vitamins and minerals as part of our daily routine also help us lose weight? I believe so. You see, I believe that when we are hungry, particularly if this is in the morning, it is not always our body crying for energy. I think there are two reasons why our brains tell us to consume food. I believe that hunger is either a cry for energy or more likely for certain nutrients. Many women, when they are pregnant, begin to crave a whole variety of sometimes very strange things. That is normally driven by the unborn child crying out for a specific vitamin or mineral. I think the same often happens when we’re hungry, it is not the body crying for energy, but the brain realising that it’s lacking a certain nutrient. It is your brain seeking optimal nutrition. If you are hungry when you wake up, before you start scoffing down food, consider taking your multivitamins, omega 3, etc. You might find that it completely removes your hunger and therefore helps you both enter a state of fasting and weight loss.
Can you take too many supplements? Well, it appears not. First, it’s important to remember that vitamins are vital for life. Next, it’s important to remember that vitamins and minerals are not drugs. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centres, In the US in 2010, not a single person died from taking a vitamin compared to 1.9 million hospital admissions leading to 128,000 deaths from drugs prescribed to them. And in Europe, the European Commission suggests that adverse reactions to prescribed drugs cause over 200,000 deaths per year!
A Recap of the Necessity of Supplements for Optimal Health
Firstly, let me disclose that I am involved with a company that manufactures and retails supplements. However, this involvement only began after I became aware of the vitally important role that quality supplementation plays in optimising our health. There has been a lot of information in both this and previous chapters to comprehend on the matter, so I thought I would bring it to a conclusion by putting all of the pieces of the jigsaw together:
- Because our primal ancestors were burning far more energy, they ate a lot more food. And as their food was entirely natural and organic, the quality was better too. We would have to increase our meal sizes threefold, to receive similar levels of vitamins and minerals.
- In the 1930s, Dr Price demonstrated how remote communities had diets that were amongst other things; seven times richer in calcium, four times richer in magnesium and copper; fifty times richer in iron and iodine and often ten times richer in vitamins; than the equivalent Westernised diet.
- Because a lot of our food is now grown hydroponically (see next chapter), they no longer contain the measurements of nutrients they are supposed to.
- When fruits and vegetables are protected by pesticides, their natural antioxidants aren’t necessary and don’t fully develop.
- Because farmers no longer build soil fertility through correct crop rotations, vegetables are not as rich in vitamins and minerals as they should be.
- We no longer eat as many organs and offal as we once did, and even when we do eat meat, the animals have often been fed an unnatural diet.
- We don’t spend as much time outdoors as our ancestors did, so we don’t get as much sunlight and therefore often don’t synthesise sufficient vitamin D.
- We need to increase our nutrition because our livers have to deal with an onslaught of toxins that our ancestors were never exposed too.
If we are to get even remotely close to providing our body with the optimal nutrition it so badly needs, there is today - unless we live in a remote area of the planet and spend our days working and walking outdoors - an undeniable need for supplements.