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From a lifestyle standpoint, the body of evidence strongly suggests that maintenance of optimal health throughout our lifetime requires that we consume a diet that is low in animal fat and high in protective nutrients and dietary fiber derived from fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, that we remain at or near our ideal body weight, maintain a good status of aerobic (cardiovascular) fitness and take a daily high potency multivitamin that is antioxidant-enriched, contains adequate B-vitamins and at least 400-500 mg of elemental calcium.
High Potency Multivitamin and Mineral and Other lifelong Supplements
It is well established that free radicals generated from the metabolism of oxygen within our cells, cigarette smoking, exposure to ultra-violet light (sun and tanning beds), radiation exposure, alcohol, nitrosamines, and many other environmental sources, accelerate the aging process and contribute to the development of many degenerative diseases.
Studies show that individuals with superior antioxidant status have a reduced risk of many cancers, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, macular degeneration of the eye and other degenerative diseases. As such, antioxidant supplementation at levels beyond those provided by food alone, is an important lifelong strategy to help prevent degenerative diseases and slow the aging process. The same is true for B-vitamins. Numerous studies demonstrate that individuals, who routinely ingest supplements containing B-vitamins, have a lower risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and age-related cognitive decline. Certain B-vitamins (folic acid, vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6) prevent the build up of homocysteine. High blood levels of homocysteine are linked to cardiovascular disease and vascular events that impair blood circulation to the brain. Many B-vitamins also participate as coenzymes in the synthesis of brain neurotransmitters, and studies show that insufficient B-vitamin intake can lead to reduced neurotransmitter synthesis, resulting in impaired cognitive function. Folic acid and Vitamin B12 are also required for DNA synthesis during normal cellular replication. Low blood levels and/or intake levels of folic acid (a common finding in North America) result in hypomethylation of DNA, which makes the chromosomes more susceptible to strand breakages and mutations. As such, sub-optimal nutritional status of folic acid is linked to an increased risk of some cancers (colon, cervical esophageal, etc). It is well established that the incidence of spinal birth defects (e.g. spina bifida) would be reduced by approximately 50% if all women took a supplement containing 400 mcg of folic acid during their childbearing years. This, of course, also ties back to the role of folic acid as a necessary requirement for DNA synthesis within the fetus.
Studies also show that most North American men and women do not consume the amount of calcium required to optimize and maintain bone mineral density up to age 50, or effectively reduce the rate of bone loss after the age of 50. Insufficient calcium intake over one’s lifetime is a major contributing factor to the high rates of osteoporosis, which affects one in four women and one in eight men by age 50, in North America. Studies show that most individuals are lacking at least 500 mg per day of elemental calcium to meet the daily recommendations set out by the National Institutes Of Health. Thus, a high potency multivitamin and mineral supplement that provides antioxidant enrichment (vitamin C-1,000 mg, Vitamin E-400 IU, Selenium-100 mcg, etc.), a B-50 complex, and 500 mg of elemental calcium, is an important component of a lifestyle program to help prevent degenerative diseases and slow the aging process.
I also endorse the use of an essential fatty acid supplement, (1200 mg capsule, containing 400 mg each of borage seed oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil), to optimize synthesis of the prostaglandin hormones that reduce cancer and heart disease risk and suppress inflammation, as well as the daily ingestion of 2 tablespoons of flaxseed powder (ground flaxseed). Flaxseed powder contains mammalian lignan precursors that give rise to enterolactone and enterodiol upon metabolism by gut bacteria. Enterolactone and enterodiol are absorbed into the bloodstream and exert profound effects on various tissues, which are associated with reduced risk of reproductive organ cancers, reduced risk of gallbladder disease, lowering of blood cholesterol and improved health and function of the large bowel.
Thus, in addition to consuming a healthy diet and participation in regular exercise, I strongly advise the use of a high potency multivitamin and mineral supplement, an essential fatty acid supplement and 2 tablespoons of flaxseed powder, as supplements to take on a daily basis throughout an individual’s lifetime.
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