Do You Need to Take Supplements? Take The Right Supplements for You

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Vitamin-Aisle_EOne of our eight healthy steps to Get Cooperized is “Take the right supplements for you.” You might initially think that is because we have a line of nutritional supplements. However, if you know much about Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper and our approach to health, you realize that there is plenty of science to support that advice.

Supplements are aptly named. They are supplements and not intended as replacements for a healthy, well-balanced diet. I tell people all of the time, ideally, all of your nutrition should come from your diet. Here is the problem though; most Americans do not eat very well. Millions are over-fed, yet woefully under-nourished.

I am a data guy, so let’s look at the numbers.

The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) are set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish daily nutrient recommendations. They identify target levels for calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, vitamins A, B6, B12, C, E, zinc and beta carotene. Of these expert recommendations, how many do you believe that 100 percent of Americans reach? The answer is zero. The range is from 14.8 percent for selenium to 85.5 percent for vitamin E.

Everyone knows that eating fruits and vegetables is beneficial. In the Morbidity and Mortality Report published in September 2010, we learned that only 32.5 percent of people eat two or more servings of fruit per day and only 26.3 percent eat three or more servings of vegetables.

What about fish? It is loaded with powerful nutrients including protein, calcium, vitamin D and, of course, the wonderfully beneficial omega-3 fats. Yet according to Dr. Joseph Hibbeln from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the average American eats fish only once every 11 days. And fried catfish does not count!

Clearly, we seem to be falling short when it comes to getting all the nutrients we need from our daily diets. That’s why taking a daily multivitamin and an omega-3 supplement makes sense.

Supplements should be viewed as an insurance policy. They help to fill in the gaps.  We all are unique and have wildly different diets, so you need to figure out what works best for you. For instance, if you drink lots of milk, eat plenty of dairy products and lift weights then it does not make sense for you to take calcium supplements. However, if you are a woman, seldom eat dairy, never lift a weight, have a low vitamin D level and have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, then calcium makes all sorts of sense.

Likewise, if you eat fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovies, three or four times per week and your HS-Omega-3 index is in double digits then I would certainly not recommend a fish oil supplement.

For most people, a well-balanced multivitamin with at least 50 micrograms (mcg) (2000 International Units (IU)) of vitamin D3 (like the Cooper Complete Original Formula or the Cooper Complete Basic One) and a high concentration omega-3 supplement with at least 1000 mg of EPA+DHA (Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3) will be very beneficial in eliminating nutritional deficiencies. However, that does not mean you can forget about fruits and vegetables.

In case you are wondering about what the “experts” are doing, WebMD reports that 72 percent of doctors take supplements (although only 25 percent “actively counsel their patients on how to use them”) and according to the 2009 Healthcare Professionals Impact Study (HCP), 84 percent of dietitians do, too.

I understand how confusing supplements can be. There are hundreds of companies, thousands of products and claims that often sound too good to be true (which they almost always are). If you have questions or want to discuss nutritional supplements please call 888.393.2221 and our team will be glad to help.

Stay well!


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