Why take a supplement? There are at least thirteen vitamins and seventeen minerals and trace elements which we need daily in order for our bodies to function properly and to keep illness away. For example, we need zinc and vitamin A for our immune systems to work, iron to make blood, calcium and magnesium to keep our bones and muscles (including our hearts) healthy, vitamin C and vitamin E to protect our hearts, and so on. If we do not get enough vitamins and minerals, we are inviting illness in. The modern American diet is low in the vitamins and minerals we need. That is why it is often said that people can be obese, yet starving – they are starved of nutrients.
Why take a supplement? Even when we eat foods which should be high in vitamins and minerals, often they are not, because modern farming methods have reduced levels in our soil. An orange you buy in the supermarket today, for example, can actually contain no vitamin C, while magnesium levels in carrots have dropped by around 75 percent since 1940. Doing the Hot Spot Plan will help you get the nutrients you need. However, if you have been depleted for many years or you cannot always eat enough of the best-quality produce, then you may need extra help. This is why millions of Americans take supplements.
Why take a supplement? But supplements have been described as ‘expensive urine‘, meaning that we simply excrete them without absorbing any of the nutrients. It seems unlikely that a handful of pills can provide the same nutrients as a tree dripping with ripe fruit, a fresh head of broccoli, or a salmon leaping from a river. Can supplements be of any use to us? Can they help us live the BluePrint for Life?
Studies of vitamin and mineral supplements are mixed. Many seem to show that supplements have no effect. One large study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2007 suggested that taking antioxidant supplements might actually increase mortality risk. Other studies suggest that supplements can be of help, or even save lives. For example, the New England Journal of Medicine reported in 1993 that the Nurse's Health Study, which looked at over 87,000 women, showed that vitamin E when taken in the long term is associated with lower risk of heart disease in middle-aged women.
Do supplements work? There are plenty of anecdotal reports from people who say that supplements help them. People who have low thyroid function, for example, report that taking vitamins and minerals gives them the boost they need where diet may not be enough to get vitamins and minerals in the large quantities required. It can be hard to measure the effect of taking supplements, since subjects taking them will not be eating exactly the same diet as each other. This is a problem with studies. Eating a poor diet and taking a supplement is different from eating a good diet and taking a supplement. Supplements also differ drastically in quality which may affect the results of studies.
Synthetic vs. natural supplements Vitamins and minerals come from plants, rocks, soil, water, animals. In order to be produced in the huge quantities required by all the millions of supplement-takers there are, vitamins are usually either synthesized or cultured in a laboratory rather than being gathered from natural sources.
Synthetic vs. natural supplements In most cases, there is no difference between a synthetic and a natural vitamin. There are two exceptions to this. – One is vitamin E, which exists as d-tocopherol in nature and l-tocopherol when synthetic. – The other is folate, which becomes folic acid when produced in the laboratory. Both of these are more compatible with our body chemistry in their natural form; the synthetic versions are inferior. Folic acid behaves slightly differently in cells from folate, and there is some evidence to suggest that, unlike folate, it may increase the risk of cancer when used in very high doses, although this is not known for sure. Good-quality supplements are more likely to contain these in their natural forms (i.e., as d-tocopherol and as folate).
With most supplement brands, the vitamins and minerals exist on their own instead of being part of an animal or plant or rock. This is not a natural way for them to exist. In nature, vitamins and minerals come as part of a package. And when something is not natural, it is usually not suited to how our bodies work. It is now known that the body will absorb nutrients much better when they come as part of the food or nutrients they are packaged with in nature. For example, when vitamin C is bound with bioflavonoids, as it is in a plant, the bioavailability of the vitamin C is increased by 30 percent. This means that if we eat vitamin C as part of an apple it will be much more potent than if we take it alone as a supplement.
Part of a package Studies also show that the antioxidant and anti-cancer effects of individual nutrients are at their most effective when other phytochemicals (plant chemicals) are present. Another problem with taking vitamins and minerals in isolation is that their antioxidant action can start to work against us. Antioxidants need to work with a wide range of other antioxidants, otherwise they can become damaging free radicals themselves. This may explain why some studies suggest that high-dose antioxidant supplements may not be good for health. Minerals and trace elements (such as iron, calcium and zinc) used in supplements are harvested from rocks. However, the minerals found in rocks cannot be absorbed by the body. Supplements manufacturers partly get around this by combining them with other substances. However, minerals are best absorbed when we ingest them as part of plant or animal food.
Bad quality supplements Cheaper brands of supplements are likely to use artificial colors, additives and fillers, as well as salts such as palmitate. These substances are not food and may cause allergic reactions or undermine health if they are not properly metabolized in the body.
Some supplement companies are starting to produce 'food-based' supplements. These may provide calcium from sea algae, beta- carotene from carrot concentrate, B vitamins from yeast, and so on. The supplements will also contain some forms of actual food. These types of supplements should be more effective and beneficial to us than non food-based supplements. If you want to use a vitamin and mineral supplement, look for a food-based supplement, always read the label carefully, and if in doubt call the manufacturer.
Supplements are supplementary Remember that supplements are there to supplement your diet, not replace it. Try to eat the healthy BluePrint for Life way, and use supplements as something extra. You may need supplements more at certain times; for example, during cold spells when you are more prone to getting ill, during pregnancy, or during times of stress.
Cautions Be aware that some vitamins and minerals can actually cause harm if they are taken incorrectly. For example, vitamin A is stored in the liver and can build up to toxic levels, while calcium can cause stiffening of the arteries. It is always a good idea to consult a reputable nutrition practitioner about any supplements you feel you may need. Taking high doses in the long term may not be best.
Essentials ingredients Organic vegetables: Brussels sprouts, broccoli sprouts, green cabbage, kale, spinach, parsley, okra, red cabbage, beet juice powder, sweet potato Organic fruits: Pomegranate, cranberry, mango, grape, papaya, goji berry, blueberry, apricot, elderberry, noni Other plant foods and extracts: Chicory, cinnamon, ginseng, red wine extract, curcumin, turmeric, parsley, ginger, ginseng, cacao, reishi mycelia, green tea extract (95% polyphenols), chlorella, spirulina Grains and pseudo-grains/seeds: Oat bran, quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, chia seed
Essentials ingredients Probiotics: 10 strains of live probiotics delivering 3 billion live cells per serving. Strains present are: B.breve, B.infantitis, B.longum, L.acidophilis, L.casei, L.platarium, L.rhamnous, L.salivarius, L.helveticus, L.thermophilis. These have been shown to be the most beneficial organisms in supporting optimal digestive and overall health. Active enzymes: including protease, amylase, lipase, lactase and nattozymes TM, isolated from natto, a traditional Japanese fermented soy food. These help break down proteins, starches, fats and milk sugars. The enzymes in natto have been shown to help break down plaque in arteries.
Essentials ingredients Fermented minerals: calcium, chromium, iodine, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, zinc, boron, potassium, vanadium Resveratrol: Organic grape, red wine extract, and trans-resveratrol. Resveratrol is the substance in red grape skins thought to protect against chronic disease and slow aging.
Other info about Essentials Taking Essentials: Essentials can be mixed with your morning smoothie, with juice, milk, alternative milks (such as almond milk), or water. It can be taken on an empty stomach, with meals, or as a snack when you need some extra sustained energy, as it supports healthy blood sugar levels. It is a gluten-free product, other than a very small amount of gluten in the oat beta-glucans it contains. It is a whole food and safe to take with any medication. Many of the whole-food and herbal ingredients chosen for inclusion in Essentials have been shown in multiple published studies to help reverse the signs and symptoms of diabetes and heart disease. Still, you are encouraged to seek the advice of your physician regarding any chronic illness or condition.
Other info about Essentials Essentials is a powdered blend of organic vegetables, fruits, superfoods and other nutrient-dense whole foods, many of which are the same foods as those found in the Longevity Hot Spots. Essentials provides a wide range of concentrated nutrients as part of nutrient-rich foods and super-foods. These work synergistically for maximum effect. The power of synergy means that when nutrients work together they are more powerful than when they exist alone. Foods contain thousands of phytochemicals (plant chemicals) which are found in Akea Essentials. This means that the vitamins and minerals should be well-absorbed and more effective than when they are isolated in supplements.
Other info about Essentials To make them even more bioavailable in the body, they have been fermented using beneficial flora which is also present in the powder. Essentials contains a wide range of the vitamins and minerals found in food, some in levels comparable to the Daily Values found in supplements. For example, two scoops provides 40% of the Daily Value for zinc and 54% of the Daily Value for selenium. Essentials is designed to complement a healthy BluePrint for Life way of eating.
Vitamin C boosts immunity anti-viral anti-bacterial builds collagen required for adrenal health anti-inflammatory antioxidant Food sources of vitamin C: berries, citrus fruits, prunes, raw red peppers, raw cruciferous vegetables, raw cabbage
Vitamin A/beta carotene protects the fatty parts of cells from free radical damage protects the mucus membranes such as in the lungs and digestive tract required for immunity protects eye retina health anti-inflammatory antioxidant Caution: High doses can be toxic, since it is stored in the liver. A teratogen in high levels, so dose should be limited to no more than 2,000iu in pregnant women. Food sources of beta-carotene: red, yellow and orange fruit and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, squash, red peppers; dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and watercress Food sources of vitamin A: liver, tuna, cod liver oil
Vitamin E protects fatty parts of cells from free radical damage helps prevent blood from clotting protects collagen from damage prevents 'bad' LDL cholesterol from oxidizing important for fertility and reproduction anti-inflammatory antioxidant Food sources of vitamin E: nuts and seeds and their oils, olive oil, avocados, wheat germ oil
B Vitamins metabolism of nutrients production of immune cells energy production in cells red blood cell production removal of homocysteine from blood (lowers heart disease risk) neurotransmitter (brain chemical) function thyroid function Food sources of B vitamins: brewer's yeast, whole grains, peanuts, sunflower seeds, legumes, avocados, sprouted seeds, vegetables, meat, fish Food sources of vitamin B12: meat, fish, shellfish, and trace amounts in fermented soy products and chlorella
Vitamin D strengthens teeth and bones boosts calcium absorption required in immunity plays a role in cell differentiation possible anti-cancer role Food sources of vitamin D: fish oils, fortified foods (e.g., breakfast cereals), egg yolk, liver, dairy products. Sunlight on skin is the best way to get the active form of vitamin D – we need around 20 minutes of sunlight daily.
Vitamin K reduces risk of internal hemorrhaging protects against bleeding problems after surgery helps to build strong healthy bones Food sources of vitamin K: green leafy vegetables, pistachio nuts, molasses, seaweed
Calcium bone and teeth health muscle contraction immune system function nerve function involved in neurotransmitter and hormone function Food sources of calcium: green vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses & sprouted pulses (seeds of various leguminous plants, for example chickpeas, lentils, and beans), fish (especially with soft bones, e.g., canned sardines). Dairy produce contains calcium, but this is hard to absorb since there is no magnesium present in dairy and magnesium is required for the absorption of calcium.
Magnesium protects mitochondria in cells from free radical damage involved in energy production involved in neurotransmitter and hormone function lowers blood pressure improves symptoms of PMS works with calcium to keep bones healthy required for correct muscle function (including the heart) calms the system Food sources of magnesium: whole grains, nuts, seeds, cocoa, green leafy vegetables, sea vegetables
Selenium powerful antioxidant thought to protect against cancer boosts the function of energy-making mitochondria in heart cells required for thyroid hormones required for healthy reproduction (especially in males) Food sources of selenium: brazil nuts, garlic, mushrooms, asparagus, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, whole grains, meat, seafood
Zinc required for tissue healing and repair required for energy production required for synthesis of DNA required for reproductive health promotes apoptosis ('cell suicide') in diseased cells required for health of the thymus gland which oversees our immune systems antioxidant important for immunity Food sources of zinc: shellfish, organ meats, meat, wheat germ, bran, whole grains, seeds, mushrooms, okra, green leafy vegetables, peas
Copper antioxidant enzyme required for energy production required for iron metabolism required for health of connective tissue Food sources of copper: dried apricots, sunflower seeds, whole grains, nuts, legumes, liver, duck, molasses, brewer's yeast, avocados, olives
Manganese antioxidant enzyme required for energy production required for protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism required for connective tissue health Food sources of manganese: vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, sprouted seeds, spices, avocado, okra, blackberries, raspberries
Iron required for structure of hemoglobin which carries oxygen in the blood required for DNA synthesis required for neurotransmitters and hormones Food sources of iron: red meat, dark green leafy vegetables, cocoa, molasses, raisins, prunes
Chromium needed for insulin's effect on cells and therefore blood glucose levels – so getting enough chromium is important to help combat Metabolic Syndrome and obesity Food sources of chromium: nuts, seeds, whole grains, black pepper, molasses, mushrooms, asparagus, prunes, brewer's yeast, artichokes, sage
ACTIVITY: Organic fruits and vegetables have been shown to contain up to 40-60% more micronutrients than non-organic. Try to teat organic and nutrient-dense foods with every meal. Be sure to continue enjoying Akea Essentials twice daily.