Baby Boomers: Are Vitamin Supplements Really Necessary?

By: Dr. Michael Wald, “The Blood Detective”

Board Certified Nutritionist

Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco, P.C

914-242-8844

 Baby Boomers & Nutritional Deficiencies

Should baby boomers take nutritional supplements?  The answer to this question is a strong YES!  Even if you think you have a healthy, balanced diet, study after study demonstrates that upwards of 70% of the United States population has six or more nutritional deficiencies, this study includes baby boomers.  The SAD, or Standard American Diet, is ironically “sad” and inadequate to meet even our most basic nutritional needs.  Here are some of the causes of nutritional deficiencies:

  • Aging
  • Increased intake on average of simple sugars in junk foods
  • High read meat intake
  • Inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Air pollution
  • Stress
  • Exercise or lack of exercise
  • Chronic injury or pain
  • Lack of sleep
  • Various health problems – each carrying there unique set of nutritional problems. Examples include: high cholesterol, overweight, intestinal and memory issues, etc.
  • Medications

Baby Boomers – pick your disease!

Depending upon the specific nutritional deficiency, any number of health issues, including fatigue, memory and recall, immunity and overall sense-of-wellbeing can be affected.  There are also a large number of degenerative conditions that result from a lifetime of nutritional deficiencies, including osteoporosis, iron and other types of anemia’s (deficiencies), cardiovascular disease, several cancers, diabetes, arthritis and dementia (memory). Baby boomers are the largest segment of the United States population who are experiencing the ravages of nutritional deficiencies first hand. Sadly, mainstream doctors are not trained, and inadequately refer, to clinical nutritionists mainly because they fail to recognize or consider the often subtle or hidden signs of nutritional deficiencies in their patients.  What is even more odd is that virtually any health problem can be caused by nutritional problems, or at the very least, may result in nutritional imbalances.

Baby Boomers – Take care of yourself!

If nutritional supplements are so beneficial for baby boomers, then why do many mainstream medical physicians seem to frown against the use of nutritional supplements?  Often I have heard from my baby boomer patients that their primary healthcare providers have said something like this, "Nutritional supplements are unnecessary when one consumes a balanced diet.”  This response allows for a few important questions, including:  What is a balanced diet and why are many mainstream physicians seemingly opposed to nutritional supplementation?  A balanced diet, to put it frankly, is a myth.  When I ask most of my patients their thoughts about what a balanced diet is, most of them answer, "Well, I eat a diet that has fruits and vegetables, not too much meat and sugars".  Although on the surface this answer seems quite correct, and certainly may be part of balanced diet, a balanced diet is one that fits the needs of the individual.  Mainstream doctors mean well, but they cannot tell you what there training has not taught them. Survey’s by the National Health Sciences state that most medical school curricula provide not even the minimum hours of basic nutrition training.

Eat Like This…to start

Baby boomers should consider the following basics, but then visit with a clinical nutritionist who, with the use of nutritional blood tests and questionnaires, can figure out your individual dietary and nutritional supplement needs:

  • Eat 4-6 pieces (combined) of fruits and vegetables each day
  • Eat organic foods when you can
  • Do not cook with oils
  • Use olive oil
  • Consume no more than 1/3rd of your diet as saturated fats and the majority from coconut oil
  • Do not eat processed white flour and sugars found in packaged foods and deserts
  • Eat liberal amounts of raw nuts and seeds
  • Consider avoiding gluten grains such as barley, rye, oats, wheat and spelt and eating non-gluten substitutes instead

Nutritional Deficiencies in Baby Boomers = disaster!

Baby boomers represent a significant segment of the population who are known to have several nutritional deficiencies including: low levels of vitamin D, iron, certain B-vitamins including B-1, B2 and B3 and many minerals including calcium, zinc and chromium.  It is therefore reasonable to conclude that diets consumed by baby boomers and probably many other segments of the population, are inadequate to meet the individualized needs of baby boomers for reduction of morbidity and mortality.

Below are a few examples of symptoms that may be linked to specific nutritional deficiencies or inadequacies (which means not deficient but not enough for the individual):

  • Vitamin A: difficulty seeing at night, increased risk of skin and immune  cancers
  • B-vitamin deficiencies: fatigue nerve problems, memories
  • Chromium deficiency: high or low blood sugar
  • Essential fatty acid deficiency: dry skin, hair and nails, cracking nails and brittle hair, high cholesterol, memory problems, depression
  • Magnesium deficiency:  irritability, sleep issues, muscle spasms/pain, memory issues, high blood pressure
  • Probiotics: lack of healthy lactobacillus bacteria in the colon can be associated with colon cancer, Irritable Bowel and Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
  • Protein deficiency: weight gain, difficulty losing weight, poor healing and memory, infections
  • Vitamin C: poor tissue healing, joint and muscle aches/pains, easy to bruise
  • Zinc deficiency: weak immunity and more infections

What Supplements Should Baby Boomers Take?

Baby boomers have always been at the forefront of a variety of innovations and, in fact, have led several significant trends in industrialized nations, the least of which involves the growing of the healthcare industry.  Baby boomers essentially want to stay fit, feel young and remain as active for as long as possible.  They want to maintain a youthful appearance and want to stave off the ravages of old age for as long as possible.  They are an educated segment of the population who want smart solutions to both prevention and health issues.

The Proof Is In The Research

Baby boomers are not alone in their feeling that nutritional supplements, along with whatever a balanced diet may be, is essential for reaching their health goals.  In fact, a decade long review by the Council for Responsible Nutrition based out of Washington, D.C., examines scientific research regarding the health benefits of multivitamins as well as other nutritional supplements.  In essence, they found that nutritional supplements do, in fact, promote health and can prevent a variety of diseases – particularly among baby boomers.  It is my belief, as a clinical nutritionist, that a "critical mass of science" has now been established and baby boomers are taking full advantage of it.

So, which nutritional supplements should baby boomers take to help ensure optimal health and wellbeing and disease prevention?  Here's my list of the top five and why.

 

1.  A high quality multivitamin:  A variety of large studies have shown that simply taking a multivitamin each day decreases cancer risk among individuals.  It provides many of the essential nutrients that one needs for general health and wellbeing, at least according to the recommended daily allowances (RDA) and the more upgraded nutritional recommendations known as the recommended daily intake (RDI).  Keep in mind that the RDA and RDI values are essentially describing the minimum amounts of nutrients to offset nutritional deficiency disease and are not to be confused with optimal amounts.  Although the RDI's are a little better than the RDA in that the RDI's consider caloric intake, they are still quite inadequate when based on individual needs.  Individual needs can be determined based on careful nutritional consultation, physical exam and detailed bio marker and longevity laboratory and nutrition tests.

2.  Omega-3 fatty acid:  Omega-3 fatty acids help control inflammation in the body and are absolutely essential for establishing health among the different cells, tissues and organs in the body.  Omega-3 fats are well-established for there role for regulating immune function, enhancing several aspects of memory and helping to offset one's tendency for blood clotting, just to name a few.  The American Heart Association recommends between 500 and 1,000 milligrams of EPA from fish oil to treat heart disease for example, but the amount of this vitamin should be based on laboratory work and other aspects of nutritional intake to figure out one's ideal need.  I believe that krill oil is the best form of omega-3 fatty acid to take.  If you're a baby boomer and a vegetarian, consider a vegetarian omega-3 smoothie.

3.  Co-enzyme-q-10:  Co-q-10 or Ubiquinol is a nutrient required to enhance the part of the cell involved in energy production known as the mitochondria.  Co-q-10 converts in the body to ubiquinone, which is the preferred form of this supplement in my opinion.  Statin medications can cause a deficiency of this nutrient resulting in permanent muscle disease and weakness.  Dosages depend upon your needs.

4.  Magnesium – This mineral is required for over 500 enzyme reactions in the body. Energy production, mood, neuro-musculo-skeletal function, blood sugar and even the heart all require adequate magnesium levels. Dosages depend upon your needs.

5.  Vitamin D – Deficiency of vitamin D3 is widespread due to ozone depletion and use of sun-blockers. NO AMOUNT OF SUN WILL FIX MOST VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY! Have your blood work checked. The Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that the higher normal (within the blood range) your vitamin D3, the lower your risk of dying of anything!  Dosages depend upon your needs.

Once again, it is always best to seek out the advice of a trained health professional when seeking to figure out the best way of eating and supplementary vitamin supplements.  For more information on these and other nutritional supplements please go to: www.blooddetective.com and www.intmedny.com.

 

Posted on May 26, 2013 and filed under Editorial by Dr- Wald.