Why You Need Supplements for Optimum Nutrition

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: General Health, Supplementation
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

A quality multivitamin/mineral is a cornerstone of good health

If you want to stay healthy, you need to eat the right kinds of foods, drink plenty of clean water, get regular exercise, and learn to breathe correctly. Along with these key steps, supplementation with the right nutrients can help you achieve the best possible health.

A common misconception, often touted by opponents of vitamins and supplements, is that you can get all the vitamins you need simply by eating properly. Just one example of how this isn't true comes from research by the U.S. government's Human Nutrition Research Center, which stated, "It's virtually impossible to get more than 25 international units (IU) of vitamin E through the diet."

The study looked at the influence of diets and supplements on the plasma levels of vitamin E in a group of 65 men. The average daily dietary intake of these men was 10–15 IU, with all getting less than 20 IU from dietary sources. Those who took a multivitamin generally got an extra 15–60 IU daily, while those who took a vitamin E capsule daily got at least 100 IU over and above their dietary intake.

The point here is that if you wanted to increase your plasma levels of vitamin E and enjoy its protective effects on the heart and circulatory system, you couldn’t do it with food alone. You would need to take a vitamin E supplement.

The same can be said about most other vitamins and minerals. The levels recommended by government agencies simply aren’t enough to keep you in top health. Instead, they’re minimum amounts to keep you from showing signs of deficiency. Low levels of vitamin C, for example, can cause the disease known as scurvy. Intake of the government's Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin C of 60 mg a day will certainly keep you from getting scurvy. But one of vitamin C's most well-known functions is to support the immune system, and 60 mg isn't enough to help you fight off infections efficiently. Instead, you need 1,000 mg or more daily just to stay healthy—and if you do get sick, up to 10,000 mg daily to fight a cold or flu.

The best place to begin with nutritional supplementation is with a multivitamin. For maintenance purposes, a multivitamin formula should contain adequate amounts of a balanced array of nutrients so that you don’t need to add on a load of extra pills or tablets. (Here are my recommendations for the nutrients and dosages that you should look for in a multivitamin/mineral formula.)

Along with a good multivitamin/mineral, there are a few other nutrients that I recommend you make part of your daily health regimen. They are:

More Dr. Williams Advice on Nutritional Support and Overall Wellness

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