Longevity Coaching® = Optimal Medical and Disease Management + Financial Planning + Diet not Dieting + Supplements and Hormones + Exercise + Dis-Stress Reduction + Spirituality

Probably too many people take supplements not knowing why they should take them or how much to take. My personal belief based on being a scientist and a physician is that supplements (and hormones) are chemicals, just like foods (that are also composed of chemicals) and drugs (that are also chemicals). Even air and water are chemicals.

In a similar fashion our bodies are composed of chemicals and are continually replacing them and forming new ones.

While the FDA regulates supplements under the DSHEA Act, they are regulated as “foods”, even if they act like drugs in the body. On the other hand, prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs are regulated by the FDA to stringent standards while under the DSHEA a manufacturer does not need approval of the FDA before marketing and selling a “dietary supplement”,

Most of us consumers do not know how large the variation is in sourcing, quality control, dissolution rates and therefore ultimately the effect (beneficial or adverse) of a particular supplement.

When you buy a supplement you buy the reputation of the manufacturer or vendor since it is unlikely that any government or oversight agency has done any testing on any of the ingredients in the supplement.

Many supplements are taken in quantities that duplicate the amount we would receive if we ate a “healthy diet”. These are generally non-toxic and correspond to a “one a day” vitamin/mineral combination.

Most people, however, are taking “supplements as drugs” with types and amounts of supplements that produce an effect that is not obtained by a “healthy diet”.

An individualized approach to both type and quantity of multiple supplements is one of the prime differences of Longevity Coaching® vs. most approaches to health and longevity.

Taking “supplements as drugs” requires putting the supplement in context with all of the longevity risk factors, plus cross-referenced against current prescription and OTC drugs that a person is taking to avoid adverse reactions.

What are non-controversial supplements? Probably the two most “mainstream” right now are vitamin D3 and coenzyme Q10.

Vitamin D3 has emerged as an essential vitamin characterized by widespread deficiency with supplementation proving beneficial in a variety of conditions such as reducing the risks of: coronary artery disease; peripheral arterial disease; osteoporosis; certain infections including TB, influenza, and pneumonia; hypertension; certain cancers such as prostate, colon, breast, leukemia, pancreatic and various skin cancers; autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes; seasonal affective disorder; and falls in the elderly.

Safe but effective dosages in adults are usually1, 000 IU per day in southern climates to 5,000 IU per day in northern climates. But to get the most benefit you need to monitor your D3 level.

Coenzyme Q10 is recommended for anyone on a “statin” drug to control cholesterol. It also is recommended for patients with congestive heart failure or known cardiac disease and decreased cardiac output.

More controversial uses for CoQ10 are for patients with migraine headaches, certain cancers especially during chemotherapy, hypertension, muscular dystrophy, AIDS, and Parkinson’s disease.

Safe but effective dosages in adults range from 50 mg. to 200 mg. per day, again, depending on absorption.

When taking “supplements as drugs”, more is not better… again, more is not better… toxicity exists with virtually any chemical taken to excess. Too much water leading to water intoxication has killed marathon runners.

Hormones, on the other hand, are generally drugs regulated by the FDA. There are a few, most notably DHEA, melatonin, pregnenolone and some estrogen preparations that in the U.S. are available legally without prescription.

While hormones are chemicals, they are potentially much more toxic than most other supplements since they control many chemical reactions within the body, everyone is unique in their reaction to hormones, and the difference between optimal effect and toxicity is smaller than most other supplements.
What are you trying to achieve with supplements? Ideally the same situation with your body that you had in your late 20’s or 30’s. Why not back to 16 again? Ask anyone with a 16-year-old son or daughter what it’s like. As a close friend once advised me, “just try to hand on till they get to 20”.

How do you know how much to take? The only safe way is to approach hormones from a strict medical standpoint. Why are you taking them? What results are you trying to achieve? Do you have any contraindications such as hormone dependent cancer or organ system dysfunction? Are there interactions with your other drugs or supplements that you are taking? What are your current hormone levels (blood levels are more accurate than “spit” (saliva))? When you take “X amount”, and your hormone level stabilizes, is it adequate/too high/too low?

And finally, are you monitoring the potential side effects after you start on the hormones?

 

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