What Supplements Are Important To Take & What Nutrients Not To Take – By Dr. Alan Christianson
Hey, there! Dr. Alan Christianson here. This is a topic I love to clarify for you. So many have what I call “pill stress” or “pill distress.” They are taking so many dang pills they do not know what is helping and what is not. They don’t know what they need or what they should be avoiding. I am going to clarify what you should take and what you should avoid every day.
The first step is calcium. This step is so very important but also so very dangerous. Research shows a lot of common vitamins containing calcium raise the risk for a heart attack, while not actually lowering the risk for bone fracture. It does not help the bones. The important thing is to take calcium in forms that are very soluble – readily dissolve in water. Calcium citrate malate is probably the best-documented version of this. It is like the calcium found in plants. It does good things to your bones but no bad things to your heart. So, this is a top priority. You really want to avoid all other types of calcium: the carbonates, plain citrates and bone-dried forms. They contain lead and make your body calcify. They do bad things.
Number two is magnesium. Magnesium is so important, and how much we get is based upon how we fertilize our crops. There is a fertilizer mixture, called NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium), that helps crops grow but washes away magnesium. So, even healthy, organic foods are fertilized and tend to be lower in the level of magnesium our bodies need. Research shows that even by the most old-fashioned, outdated, weakest tests for magnesium, upwards of half the people hospitalized for any reason are clinically low in magnesium. So, it is a very important thing to get. Just as in calcium, some forms are better than others. Citrate malate is also a good source of magnesium.
Number three is vitamin D. This is a wild one. Many people avoid it or take less of it in the summertime. I read a recent, funny study where they tracked roughly forty surfer dudes. They were Caucasian surfers in Hawaii, so they were light-skinned. They were people that should readily absorb vitamin D from sun exposure. (The darker your skin, the more you block vitamin D, so you don’t get toxic if you’re in the sun all day in some African-type latitude.) On average, these surfers were getting eleven hours of sun exposure per day. The average vitamin D measurement of the group was below what is safe. So, the sun just does not cut it. You have to take some vitamin D. It takes a substantial dose to get into your system. Ideally, your dose should be measured and modified, as needed.
The next important thing is essential fats. There has been a lot of confusion around this one. There are a lot of Omega 3-6-9 products on the market. You do not need them. You do need Omega-3, but you do not need the plant-derived source, which is ALA primarily. You do need EPA and DHA. Those two are the most important, active Omega-3 fats. We get plenty of the “6” in our diets – maybe too much. We also get the “9” in our diets, but the reason we don’t need to take it is because we can make all we need. So, Omega-9 supplements are extra, empty-fat calories.
Next up is selenium. There is so much data about selenium being cancer-protective, good for your thyroid and body detoxifying. It is important in so many ways and is also lacking in our diets. I am a fan of a handful of Brazil nuts a week. It’s also smart to add selenium via supplementation. Some types are better absorbed than others. There is a lot of data stating glycinate forms are well-absorbed, but other types are pretty hit or miss.
Next up is zinc. We measure for this routinely, and so many healthy people are low in zinc. I saw that in myself recently, and it blew me away. I am eating clean and living right the best I know how, and my zinc showed up low. So, it is something we can lose more of based on our genetic makeup. Zinc is involved in more than 300 important, chemical reactions in our body, including making hormones, fixing the brain and connective tissues, eliminating waste and so many others. Zinc is also hard to absorb. Glycinate chelate is good, but other types are pretty hit or miss, especially in combination with other nutrients.
Have you ever heard of molybdenum before? A lot of us have not, but it is very critical. As much as our health is affected by chemicals coming in and chemicals not going out, molybdenum deficiency may be one of the big reasons chemicals do not go out. If you are ever sensitive to sulphates or preservatives, you may be lacking molybdenum. It also plays a big part in many allergies – people are very commonly deficient in molybdenum.
Now that we’ve covered what to take, there are a couple things you do not want to take. The first one is iron. This is funny because there are many cases in which iron is really good to take, but you really want to have some guidance on that. If you are lacking it, it is very critical and helpful for you, but it really doesn’t work well inside a multivitamin. If iron is inside a multivitamin, it will prevent you from absorbing zinc, selenium and calcium. Now, if you need iron, you should take it as a separate pill. If you don’t need iron, you shouldn’t take it. Get some guidance on it, as it is dangerous to take if you don’t need it.
Another one in the same category is iodine. We need about 1-300 micrograms. On average, people get between 200-240 micrograms from their diets; however, vegans can run a little lower. They can average about 150 micrograms. They are still okay. If you are way above that target, you hurt your thyroid. Typical intakes show that most people are in range. If you are on thyroid meds, you would easily get pushed above range if you’re supplementing with any iodine.
Last but not least, you do not want to take folic acid. Please hear me say “folic acid” and not folate or MTHF. Folic acid is poison for a big percentage of people – upwards of half the population, and there aren’t clear ways to know which half you’re in. So, it’s best to avoid it. The data is strong that folic acid raises the risk of colon rectal cancer. The rates of that disease have been climbing ever since we started fortifying our foods with folic acid. So, you really need something like folate in your diet: leafy greens, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. Ideally, you would get some folate and MTHF in your multivitamins, as well.
I’m happy to provide some clarity and reduce the pill stress. If it helps, I have made it really easy with our Daily Reset Packs. You take two little packs per day, and you are covering all your bases for the important stuff and none of the bad stuff.