News & tips on health, fitness and nutrition

Monday, May 26, 2008

Vitamin survey : startling health benefits and reductions in the risk of disease

While fruit and vegetables are a prime source of the vitamins we need, it takes 66 oranges to supply our recommended daily requirement of vitamin C, a nutritionist says

Despite well-entrenched beliefs to the contrary, supplements really do have beneficial effects, writes Andrea Nagel

The more supplements you take the healthier you are, says a new study published in the Nutrition Journal conducted by Gladys Block at the University of California.

People who rely on supplements to augment their diets have long been thought to be “just making expensive urine”. But the study argues that taking supplements can drastically improve one’s health.

Patrick Holford, who was in South Africa last week to promote his latest book, Optimum Nutrition Made Easy, co-written with Susannah Lawson, agrees.

He believes that the findings of the survey are completely consistent with the emerging science helping to define what “optimum nutrition” really means.

He says: “On the basis of studying the science of nutrition for the last 30 years, I take five different supplements twice a day , as well as following as healthy a diet as possible.”

Holford consumes the following cocktail of supplements:

1. A high-strength multivitamin (that should provide 15mcg of vitamin D and other high minerals);

2. vitamin C, together with zinc and berry extracts, essential omega 3 and 6 fats;

3. phospholipids (phosphatidyl choline, serine, DMAE) and other brain-friendly nutrients including the amino acid pyroglutamate; and

4. extra antioxidants including glutathione, alpha-lipoic acid, co-enzyme Q10, selenium and resveratrol.

“I also occasionally take digestive enzymes, probiotics and glutamine powder if I have any digestive problems, extra chromium if my energy is low, niacin (B3) if I get a headache, extra vitamin A if I have an infection, and extra magnesium if I’m stressed” he says. “If I have an allergic reaction I take extra quercitin with MSM, glutamine, vitamin C and bromelain.”

The Nutrition Journal survey of October 2007 involved testing three groups of people: one that took no supplements, one that took a single multivitamin and one that took a combination of various vitamins according to the needs of their bodies.

Commenting on the survey, Holford says: “The multi-supplement takers who customised their selection were the most optimally healthy and had the optimum levels of nutrients in their blood even though the body excretes more than half of what it uses.”

The study was partly motivated by the concern that taking large amount of supplemental nutrients might lead to adverse effects from overdosing, but the results showed startling health benefits and disease risk reductions the more supplements were taken, with no apparent downside, except perhaps the cost.

Holford does insist that the correct diet is essential for maintaining not only good health but also abundant energy, ideal weight, great skin, no pain, a happy and motivated mood and a sharp mind and memory.

He also insists that an optimal diet can strengthen the immune system, balance hormones and produce a trouble-free digestive system.

“Our species has lost the sense of what we’re supposed to eat” he says.

“I eat like a gorilla and supplement because I can’t get enough nutrients and minerals from my diet.”

Holford says to maintain the recommended daily dose of vitamin C, we have to eat 66 supermarket oranges, a good reason to take a supplement.

A high level of vitamin C in the body helps protect your health, he says, but he is quick to admit that each body has its own distinct needs that depend on a whole host of factors — including the effects of our environment.

“That’s why saying that we all need 60mg of vitamin C each day (which is the UK government’s recommended intake for adults) is like saying we all need size 10 shoes.”

Holford’s proposed mission is to help the individual work out his or her specific needs to provide optimum nutrition.

“I want to help people to feel 100percent healthy, to help them keep fit and happy and prevent them from getting sick.”

He believes that most sicknesses are preventable if you have the right lifestyle and consume optimum nutrition.

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