Do you really need to take  handfuls of supplements at every meal? Why is every other commercial  or advertisement about adding vitamins, minerals, herbs, fish oil, Coq10, flaxseed oil, turmeric, collagen, B12, Vitamin D, and vitamin C? Is it  making you stressed and causing you to spend countless dollars on bottles of the latest marketed items?  Do you really need to take them? Are you confused because your primary care doctor tends to scoff at your long list or is unable to give you an intelligent answer? The answer to whether you need additional supplements and which particular ones along with your “balanced diet”  in short is -it depends! If you are taking pharmaceutical drugs for cholesterol, blood pressure, heartburn, headaches and infections; then, yes,  you will need to supplement! The reason is that nearly every pharmaceutical drug you take has a side effect of depleting you of critically important micronutrients! For example,  cholesterol lowering drugs like Lipitor, or Simvastatin critically deplete you of Co Q10, Omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and selenium! Ignoring those micronutrient depletions can lead to heart disease, diabetes, increased inflammation, muscle pain and dysfunction, weakness, overwhelming fatigue, recurrent infections, brain fog, and thyroid dysfunction! Antacid medications like Prilosec, Nexium, or pantoprazole can lead to B12 deficiency, magnesium deficiency, zinc deficiency, calcium deficiency, intestinal dysbiosis, and increased risk of heart attack, osteoporosis , elevated blood pressure, and dementia!  Metformin can deplete you of folate, B12 and CoQ10 causing all the medical issues listed above. What if you are not taking these medications or antibiotics? Again it depends…as we age we have higher need for certain nutrients and decreased ability to synthesize or absorb those key nutrients.  B12  deficiency is almost certain over the age of 55. Over 40 years of age, we have higher requirements for Co q10. We start losing collagen by 10% per year starting in our 30s. Magnesium is notoriously deficient in 80% of Americans, because it is depleted in our foods because of commercial farming practices. Processed foods contain binding agents that rob of us of critical B vitamins, magnesium and iodine  which are critical in energy metabolism, hormone, breast and ovary health and nerve repair. Processed foods also damage the critical balance of our gut flora which is critical to overall health, mental function, mood  and healthy immune function. Talk with your Integrative practitioner about your medications, your diet, your habits; this is how you can know with certainty what your regimen should be. It is always changing with physical activity, stress levels and environmental exposures, so it will need to be adjusted from time to time. Your actual micronutrient levels should also be monitored by laboratory testing- because too much or too little is detrimental. In our modern era of processed foods, high stress, environmental toxicity, industrial chemicals and pollutants have rendered the “balanced diet” insufficient for most Americans. Test don’t guess!

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