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Nutritional Supplementation


By Ladd McNamara, M.D.

Ladd McNamara, M.D. practiced for more than a decade as a board certified medical doctor before retiring from active practice and entered the wellness arena, where he now is an international speaker, author, and independent associate with a nutritional supplement company impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.

Most people are not aware of the tremendous benefits that can be obtained from being on a quality nutritional supplement program.*  People have questions about vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and the essential fatty acids;  the most common question, "Why do I even need nutritional supplements?"  However, if you knew what I know about the power of quality supplements, and the differences between various brands, you would NEVER go a day without supplementing your body with the health-promoting nutrients that I personally take.* 

The following video is entitled "Nutritionals You Can Trust"

  • Do I really need supplements?
  • Can I harm myself by taking nutritional supplements?  Are they safe?
  • Is there really a difference between supplement brands?
  • Is there third-party verification regarding the quality of supplement brands?
  • Which of the numerous nutrients do I need, and how much should I take? 
  • What benefits can I expect by using quality nutritional supplements?
  • The following video is an independent video about the quality of nutritional supplements. You may be taking an ineffective vitamin brand:

  • Understand the Importance of Third-Party Verification and Independent Testing

  • Understand How Specific Supplements Can Help Maintain Heart Health*

  • Do I really need supplements?  Can't I get everything I need from my diet alone?

    In an ideal situation possibly, ...but how many of us eat an ideal diet?  We no longer live in an ideal world, nor do most of us eat properly at all times.  In addition, daily stress and environmental pollutants bombard us with increasing levels of free radicals (potentially damaging, highly reactive molecules). Diets high in processed foods and fewer whole, unrefined foods have further increased the need for vitamins and antioxidant supplementation.  Also, consider that we must define the word "need" when one asks, "do I need supplements?"  Most people think that getting 100% the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) is all that we "need," or that it is "enough."  In fact the RDAs were first established by the National Academy of Sciences during World War II (and revised in 1968) to determine the MINIMUM levels deemed necessary to prevent soldiers from acquiring the classical nutrient-deficiency diseases, such as night blindness, beriberi, pellagra, rickets, and scurvy (a disease that claimed the lives of many sailors before the 1800's).*  

    It is indeed possible to prevent night blindness, beriberi (a neurological disease), pellagra, scurvy, and rickets by eating 5 to 7 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables.*  Is this all you "need," or even want?  Most people are not all that concerned about the classical nutrient-deficiency diseases, as we do not see many people suffering from those diseases today.  Today, people are much more concerned about maintaining optimal health and vitality than preventing the classical nutrient-deficieny diseases of the past.  People nowadays understand the importance of reducing the effects of oxidative stress on our cells and organs. 

    Due to poor eating habits people are obtaining less than optimal amounts of vitamins and minerals.  Our lifestyle choices, including poor eating choices, inadequate exercise, exposure to toxic substances, and increase in stress has had effects on our health and modern society.

    The RDAs have been updated several times, and have been replaced by the Recommend Daily Intake (RDI).  Also, a relatively new term, "Daily Value" (DV) has entered the lexicon of nutritional science as a means to help us understand what we should attain.*  However, medical research shows tremendous health benefits for obtaining vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants above any and all these "recommended" levels and values.*  (See the question about the benefits of supplements below.) Antioxidant vitamins and minerals offer nutritional support for maintaining sound cardiovascular function, optimal vision, a sound immune system, and efficient energy metabolism.*

    Due to the chronic vitamin, mineral, and omega-3 fatty acid deficiency epidemic in North America (that people are not obtaining due to poor food choices), in June 2002 researchers published their conclusions and recommendations in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association that everyone should take vitamin supplements to optimize their health.*  However, most multi-vitamins contain roughly 100% the RDAs (or RDIs) of many, but not all nutrients.  These are NOT the levels that can significantly impact cardiovascular and immunological health for a lifetime. 

    The remaining answers to questions about nutritional supplements are answered below, but the concept that our diets are "enough," well, just look around at what people are eating.  (Also refer to the Wellness Movement page on this website.)  It is our belief that in order to maintain and optimize our health, it is important to make healthy lifestyle changes: get adequate exercise, reduce exposure to toxic substances, reduce stress as much as possible, and obtain optimal nutritional supplementation.  And, if we are going to supplement, that it be a proven high-quality brand that truly contains the ingredients that it claims ...such as the brand we recommend.

    Can I harm myself by taking nutritional supplements?  Are they safe?

    Nutritional supplements, i.e., vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and the essential fatty acids are extremely safe if taken in the correct amounts, ratios, and purity.*  Not only ARE they safe, they help maintain health as part of a healthy lifestyle.*  Certainly, too much of anything, including some supplements can be harmful, but the safety margin is quite high for most supplements.*  If you follow the directions on the bottles of a pure, balanced, and trusted supplement brand you will remain well within the safety margins.  If you think about it, even water can be harmful in certain situations.  Drinking "too much" water in a short period of time may be toxic or even fatal.  If this is the case, then should we avoid drinking healthy amounts of water every day?  Of course not.  We must be wise about the amounts of anything we consume.

    It is interesting that the same people (often doctors) who tell you that you need to "be careful about vitamins and minerals because they could harm you if you don't know what you're doing," too often do not know as much as they should about vitamins and minerals.  I know! I was one of them who used to tell my patients that very same thing before I was educated on the facts.  Ironically, doctors will write prescriptions for ailments and tell you "not to be too concerned" about the potentially real and harmful side-effects of a drug.  (All medications have potential side-effects, the point is to be aware of them and call your physician if you are concerned.)   

    Let's look at the difference between the safety of vitamins and minerals vs. the track record of prescription medications, which are doled out daily as if they were completely benign.  In the United States alone, over 100,000 people die each year from prescription medications, mostly taken the way in which they were prescribed.  That is about 275 people dying every day from medications!  That would be like a jumbo jet crashing on a daily basis in the U.S.  If a jumbo jet with 275 people on board were crashing every day do you think there would be an investigation, and a push to stop such madness?  This is happening "within" the pharmaceutical industry and we all accept it as if there were no alternatives.  This is NOT to say to go off your medications.  There are many medications that are helping people; even keeping people alive who would die otherwise.  My only point is to compare the safety record between nutritional supplements vs. medications, and how doctors often shy away from vitamins thinking they are somehow harmful when in fact they are quite safe.  (Only one's personal medical doctor can change one's medications, and if in question about nutritional supplements, please seek the advice of your personal physician.) 

    The number of deaths each year in the U.S. from vitamins and/or minerals is around 5, ...and they are mostly among children who overdose on iron.  Iron is an ingredient in most children's vitamins.  Most childrens' vitamins look and taste like candy.  When their mothers are not looking a child may eat several childrens' vitamins per day as an "alternative" to candy; and before long the child is admitted to the hospital in critical condition before anyone knows what is truly wrong.  Iron overload damages the heart and liver.  That is why we recommend a brand in which the supplements for all age groups (adult, teenager, and children) do not contain iron.  That way there could be no accidental overdose or overload.

    Iron is important for the creation of hemoglobin; the oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells.  However, it should not be indiscriminately utilized or taken.  Pregnant women need iron; as during pregnancy a woman's blood volume will increase by 50%.  People with a true iron-deficiency anemia certainly need iron.  However, not all anemias are iron-deficiency anemias.  If a person needs iron it should be recommended by their physician after a thorough evaluation for the cause of the anemia, and then followed by their physician to avoid iron overload. 

    Regarding vitamins, it is generally felt that if any vitamins are going to cause problems the fat soluble vitamins, vitamins A, D, E, and K are the ones that would most likely accumulate in the body, and the water soluble vitamins, B Complex and C would not be as much of a concern.  It is true that at high levels, vitamin A can cause liver problems and birth defects (even before a woman knows she is pregnant).  That is why we use and recommend a brand that contains no vitamin A, but rather a "pro-vitamin A," that is, beta carotene, which is not associated with liver problems or birth defects.  Beta carotene converts to vitamin A within the body at the level the body determines.  Once the appropriate level of vitamin A is attained, the conversion ceases, and the remaining beta carotene acts as a safe antioxidant, protecting cells from oxidative damage.*

    An overdose of vitamin D is almost unheard of.  It probably can be done, but along with vitamin E, there is a vitamin D deficiency epidemic.  Most multivitamins may contain 400 IU of vitamin D or less.  Solid double-blind, placebo-controlled medical studies have settled the matter; we all should absolutely be obtaining a minimum of 1000 IU of vitamin D per day.*  The benefits are too numerous and significant to ignore.  The level of vitamin D that one should probably not exceed would be around 50,000 IU per day.  Again, unless recommended by their physician, a person, on their own, should probably keep their vitamin D intake under 10,000 IU per day.  The point is, the safety margin on vitamin D is quite high, and taking 400 to 1000 IU per day is safe!* 

    Most multivitamins contain 15 to 30 IU of vitamin E.   Medical research shows that the true health benefits are achieved with levels between 400 to 1200 IU/day of the natural form of vitamin E.*  (D-alpha and d-gamma tocopherol, at least.  The body does not recognize the "L" isomer, only the "D" isomer, and you do not want vitamin E with only alpha tocopherol, otherwise it lowers the gamma tocopherol, which is not not desirable.)  Vitamin E does not appear toxic until one consistently takes over 2800 to 3000 IU per day.  So, again, it would be prudent to stay below 2000 IU of the natural form of vitamin E per day, unless a physician prescribes otherwise.

    Vitamin K is very important for bone mineralization, clotting, and many other functions in the body.  The amount of vitamin K provided in most multi-vitamins is about 30 to 60 micrograms.  There are benefits to obtaining more, 120 to 240 micrograms, all of it being safe.  Bone mineralization may be aided with even higher levels of vitamin K, along with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.*  Physicians should be the ones to prescribe vitamin K in the order of 5,000 micrograms per day in cases of severe osteoporosis and to de-calcifiy the endothelium of arteries.  (Those on the blood thinner, Coumadin, or warfarin, should consult with their physician, and consider keeping their supplemental vitamin K intake at 60 micrograms or less.  Again, check with your physician.)  

    The point is that most antioxidants (vitamin C, grape seed extract, resveratrol, fish oil, co-enzyme Q10, etc.) have no known toxic levels (other than an osmotic diarrhea in some cases, particularly with higher doses if taken all at once).  Those supplements that do have established toxic levels are usually much higher than most people would normally obtain, and certainly more than the recommended doses than what is stated on the bottle.  One could harm themselves with certain vitamins and minerals, but they would really have to try hard to do so.  Taking a quality, broad spectrum, high quality, pure, balanced vitamin and mineral brand as we recommend, and taking it as recommended on the labels, not only is safe, it is extremely prudent in maintaining optimal health.*  

    Is there really a difference between supplement brands?

    Absolutely.  This is one of the two main messages of this website.  Most people think that "a vitamin is a vitamin," and "just buy the cheapest brand available."  Is that how you want to approach your health?  Do you want what is the cheapest, or do you want what is the most effective and the best value?  Quality supplements make all the difference in the world in maintaining your health and promoting longevity due to several reasons.*  The basics of any supplement is that it must dissolve (disintegrate) within a short period of time (approximately ten minutes or less) within your stomach, then it must be in a formulation that is readily absorbed across the intestinal lining, and thirdly the nutrients must be in a form that is "bio-available," that is, a state that the cells recognize, uptake across the cell membrane, and utilize.  Quality nutritional supplements are a true science, and the manufacturing of these supplements must be approached that way.  This makes all the difference in how the supplements affect your body and cells; the difference comes down to "wasting your money" and promoting TRUE HEALTH!  You need supplements you can trust!

    Quality manufacturers are few, so here just a few things to look for:

    U.S. Pharmacopeia: Make sure the supplement manufacturer adheres to the U.S. Pharmacopeia Standards of Production, that includes dissolution, or disintegration.  If the products cannot dissolve in a timely manner within your stomach they cannot effectively be absorbed.  

    100% Potency Guaranteed: It is shocking the number of brands (name brands) that do not contain the amount of ingredients stated on the bottle.  Studies from Yale New Haven Hospital and Tufts University Hospital have shown that many brands not only contain less than the stated amount of ingredients (from 50% of the listed ingredients, down to less than 10% for some ingredients listed on the label), many are also made with the wrong ratios of nutrients to each other, and are missing some ingredients altogether.  Always look for a guarantee of potency, purity, and third-party verification

    Athlete Guarantee: Most Olympic and professional athletes will not take ANYTHING, pain medications, allergy and cold medications, or even nutritional supplements, out of fear of being disqualified for testing positive for banned substances.  The brand that we use and recommend, USANA Supplements, carries up to a one million dollar guarantee to select athletes that no banned substances will be traced back to the products.  Many Olympic and professional athletes are using our products with absolute confidence, and reporting noticeable differences in their performances.

    Third-Party Verification: (see next section).

    Safety: Iron can accumulate in the body and cause heart and liver damage, and in the worst case scenario, prove fatal.  Health care providers should be the ones to monitor iron levels and make recommendations.  One should not take iron without the supervision of their health care provider.  Vitamin A can be toxic at high levels, as well as cause birth defects.  Beta carotene is the preferred "pro-vitamin A" supplement, as the body converts beta carotene into vitamin A as the body requires.  Beta carotene is not associated with the same problems as vitamin A, such as birth defects.*  Iron and vitamin A are just two of many supplement facts that quality manufacturers take into account when considering safety.

    Who is manufacturing the products?  Does the supplier (the distributor) manufacture their own products, or does some huge conglomerate manufacture brand X one day, brand Y another, and brand Z on yet another day?  If the distributor/supplier does not manufacture their own products it is very difficult to maintain quality control (from ingredients to end product distribution).

    Quality Ingredients: Manufacturers of supplements buy their ingredients from suppliers.  Not all suppliers are the same.  Too many brands provide ingredients of low quality, low potency, and low purity.  The low quality ingredients are inexpensive, and many manufactures prefer the inexpensive ingredients because they can put their products on the shelf at a low cost, sell them at a relative low cost where the consumer will be more likely to buy them, and the manufacturers still maintain a good profit margin.  Quality vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant ingredients come with certificates of analysis, and are certified to be both potent and pure.  If you don't start with quality ingredients you cannot end up with a quality end product.  The supplements we use, represent, and recommend are manufactured by our company; all ingredients come with certificates of analysis for their potency and purity.  Furthermore, our company, USANA Health Sciences, Inc. has the equipment to test the potency and purity of all the ingredients before they are ever utilized, thus ensuring a potent and pure end product.   

    Is there third-party verification regarding the quality of supplement brands?

    Yes, there is.  And, third-party INDEPENDENT verification regarding the quality of nutritional supplements is critical to making a good decision.  Most people are not taking quality, potent, and pure supplements, and therefore are not getting the full benefits for which they are taking them in the first place.  Furthermore, since most people are not taking quality supplements, or supplements that do not contain the full amounts stated on the bottle, or the purity and condition required for disintegration, optimal absorption, and bio-availability, most often no significant health improvements are noticed by the people using such supplements or by their doctors. 

    On the other hand, many physicians are noticing true health changes in thousands of people who have made quality supplements a part of their daily lives.*  However, how does one know if a brand truly is pure, potent, and guaranteed to contain what it states on the bottle?  When you read about the third-party verification, you will read about the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements which compares over 1500 supplement brands.  Only our company's brand has consistently come out on top in each edition (I - IV) of the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements.   

    Which of the numerous nutrients do I need, and how much should I take? 

    It is certainly prudent for everyone to be on a basic multi-vitamin, mineral, and omega-3 fatty acid supplement program at minimum to help maintain health.*  There are certain vitamins and minerals that are ESSENTIAL!  Fish oil (containing omega-3 fatty acids) is also effective in maintaining the health of the heart, cholesterol, brain, breasts, prostate, etc.*  There are many other supplements, e.g., antioxidants, such as grape seed extract, resveratrol, co-enzyme Q10, and other natural products that are all quite effective (if all the quality standards apply) in helping to optimize your health.*  Many of these supplements come combined, so that there is no need to have 30 to 40 bottles of supplements sitting in your cupboard.  Click here to read about a few specific supplements and how they are useful.

    Everyone should seek the advice of their physician or qualified health professional before starting a nutritional supplement program.  That being said there are several supplements that are commonly used that are both safe and extremely effective in maintaining health,* and very few, if any interfere with medications.  (One should always check with their personal physician if on medications or unsure of their medical condition.)

    What benefits can I expect by using quality nutritional supplements?

    True health!  That's the bottom line.  Quality nutritional supplements, if taken regularly, in proper doses and balance, along with a proper diet and exercise program, will help maintain your health and improve longevity.* 

    If you smoked cigarettes you can expect more oxidative damage to the cells and organs throughout your body.  Disease and death are increased and accelerated.  The more you smoke, the longer you smoke, the more the risk of cellular damage throughout the body. This is very logical and it is now common sense. 

    Just as logical, but not yet common sense is that the proper use, dose, spectrum, purity, and balance of quality nutritional supplements, that work the exact opposite on the cells and organs of your body as cigarettes, will help protect cells and organs from oxidative damage and help maintain your overall health.*  With nutritional supplements you can expect maintenance of health from many biological pathways, including antioxidant effects.*

    This seems like it may not need to be said, but I will say it anyway: nutritional supplements are not a panacea!  They cannot make up for a poor and negligent lifestyle.  One should never expect to have true health simply by taking nutritional supplements.  True health only comes through a combination of proper eating, avoiding toxic substances, regular exercise, and a properly balanced, quality nutritional supplement program.*  ALL these components are necessary.  Following the principles of TRUE HEALTH to have the best chance for TRUE HEALTH.*  That is our message, and our business.

    A Real Business Opportunity in the Wellness Industry: CHANGING LIVES! 

    You can now do what many thousands of people have done:  take quality, full-spectrum nutritional supplements every day to promote your health and the health of your family* AND become an independent representative of the manufacturer of these quality supplements, as well as the weight management and premium skin care products, to improve your financial situation and/or lifestyle.  Take action now, your opportunity is here!   

    It is our belief, and it is our mission to help others live in both happiness and health.  To get started on our top-rated supplements for your health, and/or to join our team with this home-based business opportunity please contact us today.

    To Order Quality Nutritional Supplements, Please Click Here!

    *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This, or any of our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.