Dr Charles Forsyth

Ecological Physician

 
 

BASIC SUPPLEMENT REGIME


The following is the basic regime I suggest for many of my patients. I may suggest higher dosages and other additional supplements, depending on your requirements and health problems.

  1. Multivitamin and Mineral supplement, daily with food.

  2. Vitamin C, a total of 500 - 10,000 mg daily, divided over the day with or without food.

  3. Vitamin D3, usually 2000 - 3000 iu (50 - 75 mcg) daily appears to be about right for most people, but some require a bit less and some considerably more (eg. between 1000 - 10,000 iu (25 - 250 mcg) daily with a meal that includes some fat/oil.  I usually recommend this is taken all year round unless you get a lot of sun exposure on a considerable amount of skin without suncreams.

  4. Extra Vitamin K2 ± K1, if the chosen multivitamin/mineral contains less than 200 mcg.

  5. Essential Fatty Acid supplement, supplying both omega 3 & 6, once or twice a day with food.

  6. Iodine - I usually suggest at least 1 mg daily, and experimenting to find your optimum dosage.

  7. Extra Magnesium, if the chosen multivitamin/mineral contains less than 100 mg.

  8. Extra Zinc, if the chosen multivitamin/mineral contains less than 15 mg.

  9. An extra Multi-mineral Supplement, if the chosen multivitamin/mineral contains low mineral levels (eg. Biocare’s Adult Multivitamins and Minerals).


It is my view, that in this day and age, it is quiet a challenge to eat a diet that is ideal for us, especially with the health issues we might have, and therefore very difficult to achieve optimal nutrition.  Some of my reasons for this view are as follows:


  1. Most of us don’t have enough time to organise ourselves well enough to eat the diet that is ideal for us.

  2. The availability of a good variety of organic wholefoods at a reasonable cost can be a problem. 

  3. Non-organic foods, grown on artificially fertilised soils, generally have lower nutrient levels - it is generally only nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK fertiliser) that are added to the soil - no other minerals are usually replaced and the plants grown on these chemical fertilisers grow rapidly and outstrip their trace element supplies so that intensively farmed fields become rapidly deficient in the other trace elements.  For example, cows put on such 'flushed' grass may develop grass staggers - acute magnesium deficiency.

  4. There is a one way cycle of trace elements from the soil, into plants and animals, into us, then out into the sea via our sewage system.  Most animal excrement returns to the soil, while we humans are not recycling composted human sewage onto the land. Trace elements in the soil are being depleted and not replaced, so we too are becoming deficient.

  5. Plant health is highly dependent on the highly complex soil microbiome (just like our own health is highly dependent on our intestinal microbiome, a proportion of which is important to get from healthy soil).  Plants are unable to absorb trace elements directly from the soil. They rely on fungi called mycorrhiza which cover the root hairs, absorb soil water and trace elements and put them into a bioavailable form for the plants to absorb. Artificial nitrogen and pesticides kill mycorrhiza and so chemical farming gives us malabsorbing plants.

  6. Some trace elements essential for human health are not so essential for plant health - so lowered trace element levels are not necessarily obvious to the farmer from the state of his crops. 

  7. Even long term organically farmed soils can be deficient in minerals if the geological region is deficient, this especially applies to selenium and iodine.

  8. We evolved over millions of years requiring a high calorie (and wholefood) diet. Man was physically active requiring energy to keep warm, hunt, gather, fish and fight. Modern man is a lounge lizard by comparison. We simply do not need to eat as much. Because we eat less calories, we eat fewer vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids which would accompany those calories - while eating a healthy diet.  Those eating the typical high calorie, nutrient depleted diet do even worse.

  9. Processing of foods almost invariably reduces the nutrient content of the foods.

  10. Many factors can increase our nutritional requirements, particularly those below.  In all of these, nutritional deficiencies are very very common, if not the norm:

    1. Times of rapid growth - babyhood, infancy, childhood, adolescence.   Deficiencies of iron, calcium and zinc are still very common in childhood.

    2. Pregnancy and breast feeding.

    3. Lack of sunlight - we need a lot, on sufficiently large areas of unprotected skin - otherwise vitamin D deficiency results.  You will be more vitamin D deficient the more: you spend most of your time indoors, behind glass or in the shade; you wear sunscreens; pigmented your skin; you live in areas with less sunlight: the UK, the further north you live (or south if in the southern hemisphere), the more inland, in cities, etc.

    4. Ill-health and disease, including infections, tend to increase nutritional requirements. 

    5. Problems with digestion and absorption.  This is more likely if gastrointestinal symptoms are present (eg. heartburn, bloating, wind or discomfort after meals or abnormal bowel habit), but can also occur without obvious gut symptoms.  Reduced production of stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes/bicarbonate or bile salts - which are essential to digest and absorb our food - are very common and go undiagnosed most of the time.  Small intestinal yeast/bacterial overgrowth and food intolerance are likewise very common and usually go undiagnosed.

    6. Increasing age - our bodily systems just don’t work as efficiently as they used to as we age - including digestion and absorption.

    7. Smoking, alcohol, other social drugs, tea, coffee, sugar.

    8. Emotional stress.  The pace of, and demands in, our lives is increasing all the time. Likewise the rate of change in almost every aspect of life is increasing, requiring us to keep up and adapt at an ever greater pace.  Few of us really stop and fully relax each day, and expect sleep to do the job, which often as not is insufficient in either duration or quality.  This is very stressful to our systems. Western man has probably never been so stressed on an every day basis. This has very specific effects on our metabolism and nutritional requirements, one of the effects being a down-regulation in our parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in down-regulation of many aspects of gut function.

    9. Exposure to chemicals, toxins, medical drugs.  We have been increasingly exposed to environmental toxins since the industrial revolution and ever more so, including pharmaceuticals, since the 1940s and 1950s. Our detoxification pathways are dependent on optimal supply of specific nutrients.  Increasing toxic load effectively increases our nutritional requirements.  It is reported that the commonest cause of iron deficiency anaemia in this country is tea drinking. Tea contains tannin which binds (chelates) trace elements including iron and so reduces their absorption. More obvious toxins include pesticides, lead, mercury (in dental amalgam fillings), cadmium (smoking and urban traffic fumes), aluminium (water, food additives, antiperspirants, etc), volatile organic compounds (perfumes, solvents, exhaust fumes) and so on - an almost endless list.  The contraceptive pill tends to induce deficiencies of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6.

  11. Another important aspect is that we are all different - we have biochemical, physiological and genetic (as well as psychological) individuality - so our requirements vary from one person to another.  Different types of diet suit different people - and that is something we need to discover for ourselves, may be with some professional help, but it usually takes time, and even then we can have nutritional deficiencies.  Genetic polymorphisms (inherited mutations) of genes involved in nutrient metabolism can increase nutritional requirements substantially - the most well known of these are certain MTHFR polymorphisms, which at their worst can increase folate requirements hugely (eg. 5-10mg daily, an intake which is extremely difficult to obtain through diet alone).  In practice, having been measuring the nutritional status of my patients for the last 25 years or so, I find multiple nutritional deficiencies extremely common, especially in the situations listed above. 



OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS

  1. Give them a break every so often - I encourage my patients to have spells off their supplements to give their system a rest and a change and to ensure that they have not become intolerant to any of their products -  eg. every so often have in a week or two without supplements - and observe the effects.

  2. Tablets - I recommend keeping the number of tablets to a minimum and to take capsules, powders or liquids in preference to keep fillers and binders to a minimum.

  3. Excipients - choose products that contain a minimum of fillers, binders, emulsifiers, colourings, etc. - and especially to avoid synthetic ones.

  4. Titanium - don’t take any products containing any titanium compounds.  And while we are on the subject - don’t consume foods which have titanium additives in, nor use cosmetics and other personal care products containing titanium!  It is utter madness that titanium compounds are so widely used.  We are seeing a steady rise in titanium sensitivity and toxicity - if you develop either you should never have any titanium alloys put inside you - dental, orthopaedic, general surgical (eg. clips), medical (eg. pacemaker).


REACTIONS TO SUPPLEMENTS

  1. The vast majority of people have no adverse reactions whatsoever to any supplements. 

  2. However, if you have multiple sensitivities (to drugs, chemicals, foods, etc.) and/or have any kind of toxicities (eg. mercury, pesticides, etc.), it is wise to introduce any new supplements gradually.  This is particularly the case if you have had reactions to supplements before.  In these situations, start with just one new supplement for a few days before adding another, and start with just one dose of a supplement daily before taking larger quantities.

  3. Reactions to supplements are most commonly due to either:

    1. Reaction to one or more non-active ingredients in a product.

    2. Mobilisation of toxins - a good thing, but can be unpleasant if it’s too rapid.

    3. Accentuating the need for need for another nutrient you are very deficient in but is not being supplied in sufficient quantity.  Eg. Magnesium when starting Vitamin D; or Vitamin B12 when starting Folate (or visa versa).

    4. Some of the nutrients nourishing unfriendly gut flora, where there is dysbiosis.

    5. Sensitivity to the nutrient itself for another reason, eg. some people are particularly sensitive to magnesium or/and vitamin C inducing loose stools - what we call one’s ‘bowel tolerance’.

    6. High levels of Folate, eg. 800mcg or more, either alone or in other supplements, may give some people insomnia if taken close to bedtime.

    7. People with ‘methyl donor sensitivity’ (due to their genetics) are sensitive to nutrients containing methyl groups, eg. methyl-B12, methyl-folate, trimethylglycine (TMG), choline, coenzyme Q10, etc.

  4. If you have any reactions or are not able to tolerate a supplement, you should always discuss it with a nutritionally knowledgeable professional. These reactions are always significant and will tell us something more about your underlying issues.  It may be that you just need to start with much lower doses than normal.

  5. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) naturally has very strong yellow colour - so much so that it is used as a food colouring - it will make your urine very bright yellow, almost fluorescent yellow - this is completely normal!

Nutritional Supplements

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