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Vitamin Supplements, What Do We Need & How Should We Store Them?

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One of the great dilemmas facing those who care about their health is whether or not to take vitamin supplements and if so, what? Detractors will always say that those who supplement just pee it out again. But if that is so, then you could say whenever you drink water, the same thing happens. But in the meantime, the water has (with the help of your kidneys) filtered waste from the blood and produced urine to get rid of it - preventing toxins from building up in your body. Popular comments are “All you get from taking vitamin supplements is expensive urine." Actually, urine is what is left over after your kidneys purify your blood. If for example your urine contains extra vitamin C, then that vitamin C was in your blood and it was absorbed. It is the absence of water-soluble vitamins in urine that indicates vitamin deficiency. If your body excretes vitamins in your urine, that is a sign that you are well-nourished and have nutrients to spare. That is good news! While some supplements are needed by both males and females, there are some differences in what is suitable.

A suggested order of importance for females

  • A good high quality multi-vitamin which should include a vitamin B complex and iodine (suggestion is Life Extension, two-per-day capsules which also includes 2000 IU vitamin D3).
  • Vitamin D3 (suggestion is Source Naturals, Vitamin D-3 5000 IU) along with vitamin K 2. Recent research is now focusing on the synergy between vitamin K (specifically, vitamin K2) and vitamin D3, particularly in terms of bone strength and cardiovascular health. Add flax seed oil or fish oil for extra absorption.
  • Magnesium (suggestion Source Naturals, Magnesium Malate).
  • Vitamin C (suggestion NutriBiotic, Sodium Ascorbate, Crystalline Powder).
  • CO Q enzyme 10 (suggestion Doctor's Best, High Absorption CoQ10) to be taken with something fatty or oily. A spoonful of coconut oil is a great way to add some good fat.
  • Astaxanthin (suggestion Source Naturals, Astaxanthin).

And what about the guys?

It’s a common misconception that men don’t care about their health as much as women do. Even if they do care, they often prefer not to do anything about it. Here are some suggestions:
  • A multivitamin to provide the basic nutrients a guy's body cannot function without, along with vitamin D3, vitamin K2, vitamin C and magnesium.
  • CoQ10 and fish oil to tackle inflammation and aging.
  • Keeping their estrogen levels in check. Growing older or being overweight can decrease testosterone production levels while increasing estrogen. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. Two supplements that help block aromatase can be considered – Chrysin4 or Quercetin5.
There is also a link between hormones and the prostate – DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is a more potent version of testosterone which increases as a man ages. When imbalanced, it could become problematic as well. Annual PSA tests will keep an eye on such levels but there are supplements that can counteract DHT and they are: Saw Palmetto6 and Pygeum7.

But it is not just about supplements

It should go without saying that no amount of vitamins and other supplements will help to improve your health without accompanying lifestyle changes and a good whole foods diet. For example, look what my friend Tara achieved with supplements and her diet.

Good quality vitamins do not come cheap so we should be careful how we store them

  • All fish oils and flax seed oil supplements should be kept in the refrigerator to prevent them going rancid. They should preferably be moved from a plastic container into a dark glass container.
  • But forgo the refrigerator for all others as it is too moist and can can reduce a vitamin's shelf life and effectiveness. Instead, store in a cool and dry place. Bathrooms are not ideal because of heat and humidity while the kitchen can mean frequent temperature and humidity changes.
  • At the same time, remember to store up high if you have young children in the home as even supplements could be potentially poisonous if consumed in extra large volumes.
  • Apart from the oils mentioned in our first bullet point, keep vitamins in their original containers as they may require a specific type of packaging for optimal potency.
  • Vitamins lose potency with age, so taking them after their expiration date may limit their health benefits.

Suggestions for sources for vitamins and supplements

Sources for high quality supplements include mercola.com and iherb.com. Cheap vitamins found in supermarkets are not recommended. Join Mercola and you are sent a $10 voucher on your birthday while if you order from iherb for example, you can get a $5 discount off first orders under $40 or a $10 discount on any first orders over $40 using the code WIJ464. They also have a 'freebie" section where you can order one free item per order while, if you become a regular customer, there is a VIP system where there is a discount on your entire order, scaled to the value of the order.