Supplements 101.

Supplements 101.

“Supplements can enhance a diet where there are shortfalls, but a handful of vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplements can never take the place of a healthy diet”

– American Dietetic Association (ADA)

Visiting your health food store can be overwhelming

  • Before starting any supplements regimen, it’s best to consult a doctor or dietitian.
  • If you eat fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats and dairy products, you most likely do not need to take nutritional supplements

Nutritional supplements may be helpful if

  • you don’t eat a balanced diet
  • you are a vegetarian or vegan
  • you are a woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant
  • you are an adult over the age of 50

Which vitamins matter?

  • There are 13 essential vitamins that your body cannot make in sufficient amounts on its own
  • The way to get them is through food or supplements or in combination.

Vitamin A

  • Helps vision, immunity and red blood cell development.
  • How Much Do I Need:
    • 5000 IU (International Units)
  • Sources:
    • Carrots and leafy green vegetables

Vitamin D

  • Helps our bodies absorb calcium and keeping our bones healthy.
  • How Much Do I Need:
    • 400IU (International Units)
  • Sources:
    • Cereals, dairy products and fatty fish like salmon

Vitamin E

  • Protector of cells and a powerful antioxidant
  • How Much Do I Need:
    • 30 IU (International Units)
  • Sources:
    • nuts, seeds, leafy greens (Avocado)

Vitamin K

  • Helps clot blood and avoid excessive bleeding
  • How Much Do I Need:
    • 80 ug (micrograms)
  • Sources:
    • Greens, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, spinach

Vitamin C

  • Growth and repair of body tissues, and is thought to help fight the common cold
  • How Much Do I Need:
    • 60 mg (milligrams)
  • Sources:
    • Most citrus fruits and vegetables

B Vitamins

  • How Much Do I Need:
    • B6- 2 mg
    • B12- 6 micrograms
  • Sources
    • Poultry, fish, meat, eggs and dairy are key sources of B vitamins
  • Vegetarians and vegans may consider supplementing


  • Often lacking in American diets
  • How Much Do I Need:
    • 1000 mg (milligrams)
  • Sources:
    • Dairy products, fortified foods, dark leafy greens, soybeans, beans, fish, and raisins.

Fish Oils

  • Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are cardio-protective and the basis for the American Heart Association recommendation to consume fatty fish twice weekly
  • Sources
    • Foods such as canola oil, soybeans, flax, walnuts and algae are all sources of omega-3s, but they are not a substitute for fatty fish.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

  • These supplements are often taken by people with joint pain.
  • In a study published in the The New England Journal of Medicine, these supplements, taken alone or in combination, were not found to provide significant relief from osteoarthritis knee pain.
  • About 40% of osteoarthritis patients may benefit from taking 1,500 mg of glucosamine and 1,200 mg chondroitin sulphate a day (for) four to eight weeks

What are the Risks?

  • With anything you ingest, there can be risks associated.
  • An overdose of vitamins A, D, E or K can even be life-threatening
  • Water-soluble vitamins, such as B-complex vitamins and vitamin C, are less dangerous because they dissolve in water

The Story of Curcumin

  • Curcuminoids are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories used in India for generations.
  • Many Indian foods contain turmeric, of which curcumin is the main active ingredient.
  • However, the curcumin content in turmeric is only about 3%
  • Many chronic diseases in the USA are considered to be caused by low-level inflammation
    • Coronary artery disease
    • Cancer
    • Obesity
    • Various degenerative conditions (arthritis)

Curcuminoids are known to exist in:

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa or JiangHuang)
  • Common Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and shampoo ginger (Zingiber zerumbet)

How it Works?

  • Curcumin blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes related to inflammation.
  • NF-kB is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases
  • Boosts the body’s own anti-oxidant pathways.
  • Increase brain function by increase brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
  • Effective in women to prevent heart disease


  • Arthritis is a common disorder characterized by joint inflammation.
  • Many studies show that curcumin can help treat symptoms of arthritis and is in some cases more effective than anti-inflammatories


  • Curcumin may slow blood clotting, so patient taking anti-coagulants should be cautious

Dr. Singh’s Current Studies on Curcumin

  • The comparative effectiveness of Curcumin vs NSAIDs for the treatment of hip and knee osteoarthritis
  • Comparing topical NSAID to Curcumin in the treatment of shoulder and elbow tendonitis

Bottom Line

  • Supplements are not intended as food substitutes
  • If you eat a fairly well-balanced diet, chances are that taking dietary supplements may not be worth the added effort or expense.
  • Curcumin Dosing
    • 500-1500mg daily is sufficient to produce a therapeutic benefit and avoid toxicity

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