Most people think that vitamin and mineral supplements are pretty much alike. This is partly due to the health food manufacturers grouping them in one or more pills. The truth however, is very different, and needs to be understood clearly.
Vitamins are non-toxic (with a few exceptions) and overdosing merely means possibly "wasting" money, as the excess is excreted easily without damage. So, since vitamins are relatively cheap, by "overdosing" you are assuring your body enough for good health, even if some is”wasted".
The exceptions to the above are the oil-based vitamins. These are A, D, K, and E. These are stored in the liver, and may cause toxic problems over time. That's the bad news - the good news is that it's very difficult to "overdose" on any of these today. The. FDA laws strictly limit dosages of these. An adult can safely take up to 25,000 (International Units (IU) per day of vitamin A, and up to 2000 IU of vitamin D. Vitamin E levels of over 1600 IU per day have shown no toxic effects (probably because E is used up in the body as an antioxidant). Few people even take K, as it is mostly manufactured within the body by "friendly" bacteria in the gut. All the B complex, and C complex are water soluble, and any excess simply goes out the urine pathway.
Each person absorbs both vitamins and/or minerals differently. This is individuality. One person may require 10 times more than a vitamin (or mineral) than another - in the same family. Another reason for taking much more than you might actually need. For example, some survivors of war prison camps actually require up to 100 times of some of the B complex vitamins "normally" required for health. This is due to vitamin deficiencies suffered and this trauma caused the ability to absorb to change.
Minerals are very different and even nutritional minerals can become toxic.
One example is copper, necessary for manufacturing blood, but causing depression and schizophrenia when too much is absorbed and stored. Of course, mercury, arsenic, cadmium (smokers), lead, and aluminum are all known to cause brain problems in toxic amounts.
The "balance" of certain minerals with others is very important to health as well. For example, the balance of calcium to magnesium is important as these two forms the electrical battery that keeps the heart beating. Sodium and potassium are another pair that supplies the power to move material into and out of cells in the body. There are many more such balances. My book, “The Health Revolution” may be found on the www.Alternate-Health.com website below has much more info on vitamins and minerals.
Many people think that because they take a popular advertised multi-vitamin with the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) they are OK. Even worse are the cereal ads that depend on the RDA! Wrong! No competent nutritionist or person who has studied vitamins believes this false and misleading advertising.
The RDA was originally set up many years ago as a result of a study by labs. Guess what? These labs were at General Foods, Kellogg's, and Nabisco. A very definite vested interest indeed! In addition, it was originally set up as the MDA (Minimum Daily Allowance. That's a minimum of each vitamin or mineral to PREVENT the nutritional deficiency diseases of scurvy, pellagra, and beriberi. The ads would have us believe these amounts are the minimum (or recommended) for “good health”.
The fact is that these once daily popular vitamin supplements do a lot of harm, because too many people think that they are getting good supplementation. They will prevent actual deficiency diseases - that's true enough, but they do not have enough to ensure even fair health.
75 mg of Vitamin C is about the amount in one orange, and while it may keep a person from severe scurvy, it isn't even close for good health. The RDA might only keep you from very severe nutritional diseases! For better health you need much more, as every competent nutritionist can tell you.
With the above factors in mind, the following basic list is what I have been recommending to my family, friends, students, and patients for many years. All have experienced better health as a result, some dramatically. This is the "basic" list, and additions should be made for individual needs. (See my book for much more information such as B6 for PMS, E for heart, and much more).
For the "average" person in fairly good health, I recommend Solgar VM75 1/day preferably taken with, or after, breakfast. This supplies the base amounts of B complex, natural E, D, A, and some small amounts of minerals.
I have been recommending and using Solgar VM75 (found in most independent health food stores) for many years with excellent results. However, it's true that the water soluble vitamins only last 4-8 hours in the body, so twice a day supplementation is somewhat better than once a day, if you are not quite so healthy. (I still take the VM75, and I'm in pretty good health for my age - 79 (2006).
Four Grams of additional Vitamin C. (4000 mg). Preferably split with 2gm AM and 2gm PM. This is a MINIMUM for continued good health. In the cold/flu season, make it 3 AM and 3 PM minimum. What is not well known is that Vitamin C is both a bactericide and a viricide. However, you have to saturate the blood to kill ALL of either present. If this is not done, and even a few are left - they quickly get back to strength. They double in numbers in about 200 minutes. If you know binary math, from 1 microbe to 1 million microbes in less that 400 minutes!
The animal doctors in zoos have set up four grams per day as a minimum for a 150 pound ape, and that ape has exactly the same need for Vitamin C, and the same basic body mechanisms needing it as we do! By the way, Vitamin C in these amounts will also tend to prevent mineral toxicity, as Vitamin C joins with all excess minerals in the blood, makes them water soluble and takes them out via the urine route.
Some form of additional calcium and magnesium is also a good idea, but here the guidelines are pretty blurred. Unless the calcium intake is balanced with the magnesium intake, there will usually be an excess of blood calcium. This causes those pesky and painful bone spurs, kidney stones, calcium deposits in various parts of the body, etc.
The “usual” recommendation for calcium found in most nutritional books is a 2/1 ratio of Ca/Mg. I have been convinced by results that this is NOT correct for most persons in our culture.
In our present culture with a lot of meat and dairy products, not to mention the media hype about calcium - and the fewer amounts of leafy vegetables consumed, we usually get too much more calcium and too little magnesium. Without magnesium (and other vitamins and minerals), the blood calcium can't get changed chemically into bone calcium. Accordingly, I now recommend that these supplements be more closely balanced. For a more accurate indication of how much to take, a hair analysis will give you much better ratios and recommendations for better mineral balance.
Summary of Basic MINIMUM Supplements
Multi equal to VM-75 1/day (Children from 9 years old to 17 can take ½ VM-75)
Vitamin C - 4 Grams (4000 mg) - more in flu season. Children by body weight.
Additional Vitamin E - After 30 - add 400 IU per day. After 50 - add 600 IU per day.
Calcium/magnesium - As stated above, this depends on your diet. If you eat meat and/or dairy products, you need to balance this calcium intake with magnesium. I now recommend taking approximately the same amount of magnesium as calcium. While the correct ratio of intake is 2/1, meat and particularly dairy eaters get much more calcium in their diets without supplementation, and therefore need more magnesium for balance.
There are many additional vitamins/minerals and/or other supplements that should be added to the above "basic" regime, depending on individual needs. While the above is a very good basic regimen, and if you aren't in pretty good health, you will feel better within a day or so after starting on it. At 79 years old, I'm in pretty good health, and I've been taking it for over 25 years. I hope this helps you and yours.
Phil Bate PhD - Retired Orthomolecular Psychologist
Inventor and Patent Pending Holder for
Brain Wave Amplitude Changing via Auditory Training
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