This article is about how I manage the large amounts of vitamin and mineral supplements I take. I also touch a bit on the rationale and theory of meganutrients.
I am the author of Filamentology. Filamentology is a book that could be best described as new age spirituality or self help, but it also has a lot to say about health.
As of 2008, I am 51 years old and I am in good health. I have very few symptoms, I take no medicine of any kind, and I get lots of vigorous exercise. As part of my health regimen, I will take about 200 to 250 vitamin, mineral, amino acid, and fatty acid supplements a month.
Supplements are only 1 component of good health, but they are very important. Perhaps, in this modern world, nutritional supplements are the primary component of good health. Other components of good health are, general diet, exercise, habits, rest, relationships, etc.
This article does not go into depth with the theory of vitamins and biochemistry. There are libraries full of books about this topic. The internet is loaded with information about vitamins. Much of it, unfortunately, conflicting.
There are approximately 40 to 50 essential nutrients and thousands of "non-essential" nutrients. Essential means that this particular substance is required for life and the body cannot make it on its own. The possible combinations and levels of these essential and non- essential nutrients is infinite.
At this point in human history there is no 1 technology based test that can determine optimal levels of all nutrients. It just doesn't exist. No blood test, hair test, electronic measuring device, x-ray, cat scan, pet scan - nothing.
What are "optimal levels" of nutrients anyway? This depends on your age, activity, stress levels, and a myriad of other variables. Ultimately, the concept of "optimal levels" may be impossible to ascertain with any technology.
So, if current modern science can't help, how are we to deal with this infinity? My theory is that it is better to get slight excesses of all of the essential nutrients than to have any deficiencies. I don't mean gross excesses, but if the body is getting everything it needs, it can sort out the infinity for you. If a persons overall health is good, the body can easily eliminate slight excesses of essential nutrients. This is true for many toxic substances as well.
When you first start, "optimal levels" is a best guess. Over time, as you learn more about your needs through evaluating your energy levels, the symptoms you have, and the results of tests such as Hair mineral analysis, you will be better able to keep yourself in balance. This system of supplements and trackers is ultimately just a tool to accomplish this end.
The idea is: Get in balance and stay there as long as you can. No one can stay in balance forever. Your goal is not to live forever, it is to live as well as you can, as long as you can.
For me, I can say I have not missed a day of work in 15 years due to ill health. While I am certain not to live forever, I consider this level of health to be high quality living. I still have plenty of room for improvement. I sincerely hope that I will continue to improve my health for my entire life.
Now refer to the picture labeled "Dave's Supplement Corner". As you
can see, these supplement wracks take up 1 small corner of my kitchen.
I use 2 three tier portable shelves and a kitchen cabinet. The shelves
can be anywhere you like, but it is convenient to have them out in the
open and in the kitchen.
AMINO ACIDS. On the shelf labeled amino acids I have all 8 of the essential amino acids and a variety of other non essential amino acids.
VITAMINS. On the shelf labeled vitamins I keep the essential vitamins - vitamin A (Not beta carotene), a B complex, a variety of individual B vitamins, vitamins C, D, and E.
MINERALS: On the shelf labeled minerals I keep about 15 mineral formulations. All minerals are considered essential in that they are not made in the body.
SUPER FOODS. Super foods are not considered "essential" supplements. There is a theory that super foods contain necessary nutrients that have not been identified as of yet. This may very well be, but, again, my argument is that if you take at least what modern science currently knows to be essential you'll be well ahead of the curve.
Super foods include a variety of naturally occurring products such as brewers yeast, chlorella, spirulina, ginseng, ginko biloba, etc. It seems like new products are coming on the market all the time. When I learn about a super food, I will try it out. Some super foods like yeast and ginseng have become permanent parts of my supplementation schedule, some I just experiment with. My recommendation: Try 'em out. Learn about these magnificent things that the earth has to offer! Have fun! See what is right for you.
MISCELLANEOUS SUPPLEMENTS: Miscellaneous supplements include substances that are not considered essential for human health. Either the substance is made naturally in the body or the exact function of the supplement is not known. For me, these include lecithin, glucosamine, DMAE, superoxide dismutase, Co Q 10 and many others. Like super foods, I experiment with many supplements and see what works for me. If it seems to improve my health, I will make it a permanent component of my regimen.
EMPTIES: I use this shelf to put empty (or nearly empty) bottles of supplements. Normally, I will wait until I have several empty bottles before I make a run to the vitamin store or order from the internet. Being out for a few days or even weeks for some supplements is not a big deal for me. Some supplements I don't even take but a few times a month anyway!
TRACKERS. Trackers are forms I use for several purposes. I have these forms in text files on my computer and print out the 2 forms once a month. I keep them as text files in case I want to make changes, which I frequently do.
First, they are used as reminders. As you can see from the picture, I keep the trackers beside my supplement shelves with a pen. Whenever I take a supplement, I grab the pen and write it on the tracker. For instance, if I take a calcium/magnesium supplement on the 5th, I find the line that lists calcium/magnesium and write "5". If I took 2 of the supplements on the fifth, I will write "5x2". Easy.
I look at the trackers nearly everyday and see what I have taken so far this month and when. If I have taken enough of a particular supplement for the month, I don't take any more. If I have missed some, I can add them.
Also, I use the trackers as record keeping. At the end of the month I take the trackers down and keep them as a permanent record.
The way this works for me is I will evaluate how I feel at any given time. If I am feeling energetic, strong and have no symptoms I will keep on course. However, if things are not as rosy, I will recall a time when health seemed better, pull out the trackers and try to emulate my supplementation habits at that point. This technique has helped me stay in balance over the years.
Health can be a strange thing to deal with some times. Bad habits you don't even notice creep in and some period of time later I notice symptoms cropping up. Or conversely, I might neglect to do the good things I once was doing and the symptoms show up. It usually takes several months of bad habits before the symptoms start occurring. If you're not really on the ball, it can be very difficult to sort things out. For most people, the symptoms pile up on them until they find themselves on the runaway prescription medication train.
I also track other components of my health such as exercise, known repetitive stress problems such as computer usage, jogging, or weight lifting on separate trackers.
The trackers change over time. I try to refine the process as I get older to make it more efficient.
Click here to download a text file of my current supplement trackers. Feel free to use them or modify them to suit your needs.
Here is an example of filled out trackers.
You can modify this system anyway you like. When you first start it will probably be much smaller and simpler than my current system. Indeed, it took me years to develop the system and the discipline to use it. It will probably take a while for you to make this system a habit in your life.
Experimentation: Alas, body chemistry does not stay consistent throughout life. Age, activity level and activity type, stress, and a myriad of other (perhaps an infinity of) variables effect which nutrients you need.
For example, I might increase my monthly intake of copper, or zinc, or chromium, or some other substance. Some times I might not take any supplements at all for a month. Even though this system may appear rigid, I try not to be too mechanical. There is an intuitive component to this. As mentioned, I keep and review my records to see how my experiments have been working.
Formulation changes: It is maddening when you have a supplement formulation that you like and it goes off the market, either because the company changed it or the company went out of business or the like. All you can do is look around and see what else is out there. The good news is that nutritional supplements are a multi billion dollar worldwide industry and with the internet you have greater access to more sources than ever before.
Hair Mineral Analysis: I have touched on the concept of Hair Mineral Analysis several times so far in this article. You will notice that I post recent results of my Hair Mineral Analysis on the cupboards in my supplement corner. I post my wife's and cats' results also! I actually post all of my personal results in my bedroom but this is more for research than for personal balancing. Refer to the picture.
Hair Mineral Analysis and
interpretation is beyond the scope of this article. However, as a
quick, oversimplified explanation, if most of your mineral levels are
within the normal (blue) range, the chance that you are asymptomatic
and healthy is very good. Factors other than nutritional supplements
effect the hair mineral pattern, however supplements are probably the
single most important factor.
Click here for an example of a well balanced hair mineral analysis pattern.
These 2 are recent tests of mine.
The first is from 2007 the second is from 2008. My
hair mineral pattern is the most balanced (not perfect) of any of the
people I have ever run hair mineral tests on.
This type of mega nutritional system could be very good for athletes. Athletes need nutrient levels far and above what normal folks do.
Isn't 200 to 250 nutritional supplements a month too much? I hear many people say, "This is too complicated." I argue, how complex is getting sick? Get really sick for several weeks or months and you'll find out how complicated life can get.
Isn't this too expensive? How expensive is being sick, both in terms of down time from work and doctor bills? I have an inventory of about $300.00 worth of supplements. I spend about $75 to $100 per year replenishing my inventory.
I sometimes hear people say, "I don't believe in taking too many pills". The notion that we get all the nutrients we need from the food we eat is all but defunct. The soil is depleted, the fruits and vegetables are low in essential vitamins and minerals. The animals we eat are in horrible shape. My argument is that if you want to maintain or improve your health, modern people have no choice but to take at least some nutritional supplements.
BTW, I am a strict vegan. I eat no eggs, fish or drink milk. I don't even eat honey. For strict vegans such as myself, nutritional supplementation is even more critical.
"Hey Dave, where is your vitamin C and B complex?" I don't currently put these on trackers because it is assumed that I take these every day.
Regarding essential fatty acids, currently I only supplement with flax seed oil. I take about 3 to 4 ounces of this magnificent substance with my food. Again, it is not on a tracker because it is assumed I take it everyday. Flax seed oil provides large amounts of the 2 essential fatty acids.
Drop me an email. I'd love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and if you have ideas or tips.
For better health,
Dr. Dave Grayson-Dickey
This article is written as an example of my health system. For the majority of people, I do not recommend embarking on a major supplementation regimen without professional guidance.
I do clinical Hair analysis interpretation and nutritional counseling for the general public for $200 per 1 hour session. I usually do this for World Chi clients for cost. If you are interested contact me and I will give you the details.