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So, my son Dan visited us over the last weekend. He is 22, generally eats well, is in great health and has no health issues whatsoever. As he watched me taking my multivitamins and a handful of supplements he asked, “What is all this stuff you are taking Dad? Should I be taking any of this stuff for optimal health?”

So, here is what I told Dan.

Through all my reading and learning, I have come across all three points of view on multivitamins:

  1. Unless you have deficiency in some vitamin or mineral, you don’t really need to take daily vitamins and mineral supplements. If you do, they just get secreted out of the body in urine. So, by taking multivitamin as supplements, all you get is expensive urine.
  2. You have to be careful very careful with the supplements. They can actually cause harm to your body. For example, have you not heard about the study about taking too much antioxidants is harmful?
  3. To get all vitamins and minerals, you really need to eat all the various foods during the week. Besides, many of our fruits and vegetables are depleted of nutrition due to the present day methods of farming. Moreover, there are many studies that demonstrate effectiveness of the many supplements in Optimal Daily Allowance, which can be significantly more than the minimum Required Daily Allowance (RDA). So, not only one should take multivitamins every day, but make sure to take based on optimal daily allowance.

I have come to subscribe to number 3, i.e., for optimal health we must take daily optimal quantity of multivitamins and minerals.

While there is no shortage of material out there discussing this topic, I would briefly share here some information and sources that have influenced my thinking.

Kimberly and I attended a presentation by Chris D’Adamo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Director of Research at Center of Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine, in Baltimore, MD. I found his presentation, D’ADAMO – Supplementing Your Dietary Supplement IQ – 2013 to be very objective and informative. He discussed each vitamin and mineral, their impact on health, the required and optimal intake and sources from which we get those. And, culturally, do we get sufficient quantity or not. Bottom line: Consider taking the following: Multivitamin, Vitamin D, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Probiotics. Add other supplements for specific issues as needed.

Pretty much the same conclusion is described in Blood Sugar Solution”, by Dr. Mark Hyman, “The Life Plan: How Any Man Can Achieve Lasting Health, Great Sex, and a Stronger, Leaner Body”, by Jeffry S. Life M.D. Ph.D., and in The Joe Dillon Difference, by Joe Dillon.

The next question is which brand. Should I just go to Safeway, Giant, Cosco and pick the cheapest multivitamin? Is there difference between any of these brands?

Before you pick a brand, I advised Dan, you need to do some research, since there are no guidelines or standards or compliance audits for supplements.

Multivitaminguide compares and ranks multivitamin brands. ConsumerLabs also tests supplements and assigns Approved or Not Approved designations. These websites claim they have tested brands for composition, bioavailability, safety and potency.

From the Multivitaminguide check out the top five. Some of them have extensive information on what is in the capsules and why. For example, two of the top five brand websites, Xtend-life and LifeExtension, describe in detail not only the different ingredients, but also cite research studies from where they derive the reasons for including a particular ingredient as well as the quantity of the ingredient.

National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements is also a great place to get educated on this subject.

You will also notice that in addition to the basic 26 vitamins and mineral, some multivitamins on the list (including the ones from Xtend-life and LifeExtension) have other ingredients, e.g., green tea extract, Lycopene (from tomatoes, alfalfa extract etc. So, that becomes another consideration in selecting a multivitamin. Do you want to add these other ingredient, “everyone” is talking about being important for wellness, curcumin, ginger, turmeric, resveratrol (from Red wine) and so many others.

Given all this information, what would I recommend? Just like Dr. D’Admo recommends: a good multivitamin, omega-3’s, vitamin D and probiotics as a baseline. Then add specific supplements that you may need due to specific health condition.

These days, I am taking the following:

  1. Xtend-life Men’s Total Balance Premium. Comes in 7 capsule a day
  2. Xtend-life Omega 3 / QH Ultra. 4 capsules a day.
  3. Nature’s Bounty 1200 mg Flaxseed Oil Softgels. 2 capsules a day
  4. Vitamin D3 2000 mg. One capsule a day
  5. Raw Probiotics – Ultimate Care. One capsule a day. Just today ordered for the first time.
  6. Nature’s Plus – Extended Release 600mg Red Yeast Rice. 2 capsules a day for managing my cholesterol.
  7. Now Foods Calcium Citrate Plus Caps 600mg, 2 a day for bone health.
  8. Cosamin ASU Active People Capsule. 2 a day for joint health
  9. Male Rejuvinator. 3 capsules a day for Prostate Health
  10. Life Extension Super MiraForte with Standardized Lignans. 4 capsules a days. Added recently to restore Testosterone level – indicated as low by blood work. Too early to say if it works.
  11. Miracle Phytoceramides. One capsule a day. Another experiment for healthy moist skin and wrinkle prevention.

So, based on my experience, I advised Dan to read up some of the related literature and start with the following:

  1. Xtend-life Multi-Xtra. $18.95 + 4.49 shipping from Amazon or Xtend-life.com. 2 capsule a day.
  2. Xtend-life Omega 3 / DHA Fish Oil. $17.95 + 4.49 shipping from Amazon or Xtend-life.com. 2 capsules a day.
  3. Nature’s Bounty 1200 mg Flaxseed Oil Softgels. $8.95 from Amazon. 1 capsules a day
  4. Nature’s Bounty Vitamin D3 2000 mg $11.52 from Amazon for 240 capsules. One capsule a day

You should take it for three months and see how you feel. Then may be stop taking it for a week or two and see how you feel. Based on that comparison you should be able to see for yourself if it is worthwhile for you to keep taking these.

Dan told me that this was a good topic for my future blog posts. So, here it is Dan and feel free to share it with others.

What is your experience with multivitamins and supplements?

Do you have your favorite brands or supplements that have had major impact on your physical and mental health?

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