The Rest Of The List
- Vitamin C - This is a great example the benefits of "optimal" vs. "adequate" intake. Vitamin C is somewhat taken for granted, because it is one of the easier nutrients to acquire in adequate quantities via foods. Yet, supplementation with higher doses of vitamin C can be quite useful in protecting the body against toxins. Vitamin C is a cofactor (essential ingredient) for a number of metabolic reactions, including those involved in the synthesis of glutathione, the body's most powerful endogenous antioxidant. Consuming Vitamin C beyond the quantities required to prevent deficiency will encourage your body to produce more glutathione. Supplementing with 1000-2000mg of Vitamin C daily is the best way to amplify your body's natural toxin-defense. Recommended Brand: NOW Foods Vitamin C - 1000mg
Vitamin A - Vitamin A is involved in a staggering number of processes in the body. Its role in vision is the one that most people tend to be aware of, as it is an essential component of rhodopsin, the light-sensitive molecule in our eyes responsible for low-light vision. The less known, but possibly more important, role of Vitamin A is in gene transcription, the process in which DNA is copied to make RNA. This function means that Vitamin A plays a role in nearly every tissue and process in the body. Here's the list of what we know Vitamin A has a role in: immune function, embryonic development, bone metabolism and blood-cell formation. Through this effect on the genes, Vitamin A triggers the transformation of immature skin cells (keratinocytes) into mature skin cells, an essential process for healthy skin.
I'm sure some of you are thinking, "can't we get vitamin A through vegetables like carrots?". The answer is "sort of". Certain vegetables, particularly carrots, are rich in beta-carotene, a chemical that your body will convert into Vitamin A. Problem is, our bodies are not particularly good at making this conversion. For every 12 micrograms of beta-carotene we consume, our bodies produce 1 microgram of retinol (the usable form of vitamin A). Because of this poor conversion rate, it is very difficult to eat enough vegetables to get adequate vitamin A. There is, however, a reliable food-based source of vitamin A: liver meats. If you want to consistently consume liver meats on a daily basis, feel free to skip this section. For the rest of us, supplementation is critical. 10,000-25,000IU per day.
Recommended brand: Now Foods Vitamin A
Vitamin B12 and B9 - These two come as a pair because they so commonly work in tandem in the body. B12 and B9 are needed in every cell in the body as they play a critical role in DNA replication and function as well as fatty acid synthesis. B12 and B9 also work together to play a key role in neurological function. Having either one of the two present without sufficient amounts of the other can produce neurological issues, which is why the relatively-common practice of taking a B12 supplement by itself is really quite unwise.
An interesting note about B12 is that it is all ultimately produced by bacteria. Meat and other animal products contain B12, but this is because they absorb it form their gut flora. There is no reliable plant-based source of B12 because plants don't host huge colonies of gut flora in the way that animals do. If you're eating a ton of animal products, you may be able to get adequate B12 without supplementing. If you're looking for optimal levels of B12, supplementing is still a good idea.
B9 and B12 are also good examples of a case where there is a lot to be gained in supplementing beyond the typical recommended dose. Higher-dose B12 and B9 have been connected to improved immune function and neurological maintenance as well as lower risk of atherosclerosis-related heart disease. Both B12 and B9 come in a lot of different forms. Look for sublingual methylcobalamin (B12) and folinic acid (B9) for best absorption and minimum risk of toxicity. Take 3-5mg B12 and 800mcg B9 per day.
Recommended brands: Jarrow Methylcobalamin B12 5000mcg and Source Naturals Folinic, 800 Mcg
Copper, Iodine, Selenium - All three of these essential minerals are used by the metabolism as cofactors for a large set of enzymes. These enzymes will not function if their partner mineral cofactor is not available. When this happens, metabolism slows and critical cellular processes are not performed. Needless to say, we want our bodies to have more than enough of these minerals available at all times to keep our metabolisms operating at full speed.
Iodine also has a critical function in the thyroid where it is a critical part of several hormones produced by the gland. Iodine deficiencies can result in suppressed thyroid function, which often equates to slowed metabolism and fatigue.
Copper, Iodine and Selenium were once readily available in soils (and thus, in food), but have become depleted in more recent times. As a result, deficiencies in these three are now very common. 2mg Copper and 200mcg of Selenium per day is ideal. Iodine can come from Kelp, and 600mg of kelp powder will supply ideal levels of iodine.
Recommended brands: TwinLab Copper 2 mg and Now Foods Selenium 100mcg and Nature's Way Kelp Capsules
More Than Worth It
I know looking at this list, it might seem like a lot of time and money to execute. I've taken 90% of the work out of the process by linking to the brands on Amazon that I've researched and chosen for myself. All you have to do is "add to cart". As for the expense, you want to know how much my supplementation costs me per day? A dollar and thirty-two cents. Yep, $1.32. Seems a bit more reasonable now, doesn't it?
Given the potential benefits that can come from addressing chronic nutrient deficiencies, this is one of the lower-investment, higher-reward nutritional practices you could adopt. Of course, addressing deficiencies is not all we're after here. Using supplements at higher doses like krill oil, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin C can produce beneficial effects in the body that are simply impossible to achieve via even the best diet.
Secondary Supplements (not essential by definition, but still have a big impact on well-being)
- Creatine - Critical component of energy metabolism, boosts cognitive performance. (read more)
- Calcium-D-Glucarate - Aids your body's detoxification of endocrine disrupting toxins. (read more)
- Antioxidants + Detoxifiers - Can't overstate the importance of consuming loads of toxin-neutralizing foods. Toxins disrupt metabolic and hormonal function and create systemic inflammation. This is why we've developed Synchro Genesis to be a broad-acting detoxifying powerhouse. Probably no more complete of effective product on the market today for this. (read more about detoxifiers).