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Vitamin What? Is that vitamin helping you or not?

I’m not sure if vitamins are as cool as they once were.  I can remember taking vitamin C as early as my teens as it was very popular then.  Then came B vitamins, and now it’s D that’s the doctor’s #1 rec.  It’s easy to feel skeptical, even cynical, about supplements these days.  From the days of flower power to eco-friendly to whatever this is now(?) we get a pretty odd mix of information.

I have to be honest. I am nostalgic for the days of flower power, hippie, back to the earth, tree hugging idealism.  I had my first real grass roots experience volunteering at the food coop at University of Maryland, College Park. In those days food coops were a new concept, and Whole Foods was just a small, quirky health food store that had just opened its doors a few years earlier, 1980 actually. We were mavericks, trying to find out what happened to the good food?

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FLOWER POWER!  COME BACK PLEASE?!

Soon after and sometime during the 1980’s came the power drink movement… smoothies, juices, kombucha, protein shakes, whey, all the way up to what is now the newest supplement on the scene — collagen.

Honestly, I think it all has real value. Americans are just weird when it comes to food I think. We don’t have a traditional cuisine in this country and so there is no evolutionary trail of eating healthy foods that are fermented, soaked, roasted, or otherwise prepared to attain the best gut assimilation.

Yet we definitely are not getting enough of the good stuff in our diets. The addition of a liquid type supplement in the morning, or afternoon, is a good way to boost cellular response and help your body detoxify, renew energy stores, and optimize metabolism.

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If you are tired after eating or upon waking, your protein levels are too low and you should supplement with a whey/collagen or rice protein blend.  Try to find one with enzymes, vitamins and some herbals built into it so that you get more nutrition out of it.

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How to Tell if you need to take vitamins:

  • If you have ongoing tendinitis, coughing, or joint pain, try adding in at least 200 mg of vitamin C daily.  Vit. C is an important component to repairing connective tissues in the body as it helps create collagen.
  • If you have any immune issues, such as low or borderline thyroid, infertility, hair loss, or prolonged muscle fatigue, try taking vitamin D.  If you spend all day inside, you definitely need to start taking vitamin D.
  • If you are depressed and anxious a lot of the time, try increasing vitamin B by taking a supplement with B12 and B6.  The B vitamins are now also available in a form that is more easily absorbed for people with gut problems.
  • Finally seek a health practitioner if you aren’t responding well to the supplements or diet you are following. There could be an underlying deficiency or specific health condition that needs to be addressed more closely.

I really do believe that there are many more cases than publicly known that could be better treated with modifications to diet and supplementation, especially if these are really diagnosed correctly.

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For example, did you know that grape juice has been shown in studies to have as much of an anti-platelet effect as anti-platelet medications?   It’s the purple color, and that means flavanoids in red wine and purple grapes — these inhibit in vitro human platelet activity.  A supplement called Resveratrol was developed to make this easy to obtain for those who could benefit. Aspirin is what most of us know about for this action, but this study (Folts, 1998) as well as others, shows that red wine and purple grape juice do the job even better than aspirin.  So instead of taking aspirin prophylactically for thicker blood or risk of clots, take Resveratrol.  Also aspirin can cause bleeding when taken too regularly, and that includes bleeding of the gums, from the intestines, and the gut.  Even some doctors are now advising against its use.