Occasionally when I’m up in our apothecary someone asks “What supplements do you take, Dr. E.?” Usually I’m too rushed to answer more than, “Oh, a bunch of stuff. Seems to work. I’m still here. If you’re curious, just ask,” referring to whoever’s managing the apothecary counter. She knows what I take because my supplement list is in our computer, as is yours in case you come in to replenish your stock and forget the name of something you’ve been taking.
Listing my supplements as I’ve done here, I realize it’s quite a mouthful (really, a belly-full), especially given that most of them have a twice-daily dosing schedule. However, I’ve been doing this for such a long time I honestly don’t think about it much. I am, however, careful to take these pills after a meal. If all the tablets and capsules were to release their contents into an empty stomach I’d likely feel a wave of nausea. Taking them with food prevents this completely.
Most of the products I use are made by Integrative Therapeutics Inc (ITI), the largest supplement manufacturer selling exclusively to health care professionals. Because of their relationship with physicians, their quality is exacting–obsessive, even–and I appreciate that. ITI was created by combining four US companies, all with long histories of producing high-quality nutritional supplements: PhytoPharmica, Vitaline Formulas, NF Formulas, and Tyler Encapsulations. Several years ago, ITI itself was purchased by Europe’s largest supplement manufacturer, Schwabe Pharmaceuticals, a global phytomedicine (plant medicine) company founded in Germany more than 140 years ago.
I’ve organized my supplements by category:
Last week I wrote about a new study that showed taking a daily multiple reduces your risk of cancer. My choice is ITI Multiplex without iron (the only people who need the with-iron version are menstruating women).
B complex is actually many different nutritional supplements lumped into one capsule. The individual B vitamins are involved in dozens of important body processes (cell maturation, nerve growth and development) and while a good multiple vitamin has many of the Bs, some are missing. I take one ITI Daily Energy B Complex every day.
According to research over the past 30 years, we age and develop chronic illnesses because our cells are exposed to certain rogue oxygen molecules called free radicals. Taking antioxidants blocks free radical damage. I use several different antioxidants based on studies showing that taking a single antioxidant, like vitamin E or beta carotene, blocks the absorption of others. A blend is regarded as best. Although there are some antioxidants in my multivitamin, I add NewMark GWT 1000 (containing green and white tea extracts), ITI CytoRedoxin (a blend of several antioxidants), and ITI Lipoic Acid, a complex supplement with several roles in the body, including being a potent antioxidant that protects your heart, blood vessels, and brain tissue.
Admittedly the accumulated data on anti-aging supplements is not as compelling as that on antioxidants. Studies have mainly been done in animals, but there’s some indirect evidence–such as the lower incidence of Alzheimer’s on the Indian subcontinent–that some researchers attribute to the anti-inflammatory effects of curry. I use two supplements in the anti-aging category: ITI Resveratrol Ultra (extracted from the skins of grapes and a favorite of Dr. Oz) and True Botanica Curcumin (whose orange color is derived from curcumin).
CoQ10 is a molecule produced by our bodies whose levels decline as we age. The molecule itself is involved in generating cellular energy, something like a spark plug for all cells. Users report increased energy with CoQ10. Certain medications, notably the statins (used to lower cholesterol), deplete CoQ10 and it’s believed that the most common side effect of taking statins–muscle cramps–is caused by this drop in CoQ10. I take a highly absorbable form of CoQ10 called UBQH by ITI. Since I consider myself a high-energy sort of person, I like to think it’s the UBQH powering my day rather than my Starbuck’s.
So many health benefits are now associated with fish oil (lowered risk of heart disease and cancer, better brain function, good blood pressure) that even nutritional skeptics are secretly downing it. Fish oil was also approved by the FDA for heart disease prevention. If you eat fish two or three times a week, it’s probably not necessary to take fish oil capsules. I take ITI’s Eskimo PurEFA twice daily. On days when I eat fish, I take just one.
I’ve written several health tips about using supplements to improve memory and maintain brain health. Actually, for supplements in this class the research is fairly solid. Acetyl-L-Carnitine specifically enhances energy production throughout the body, most notably in brain cells. Citicholine was developed in Japan to help with stroke recovery by increasing levels of the brain chemical phosphatidyl choline, a precursor for the neurotransmitters that allow brain cells to communicate with each other. The lipoic acid mentioned under my antioxidants listing has also been shown to protect brain cells from free radical damage.
Physician-essayist Lewis Thomas, MD, once wrote that he’d rather be at the controls of a Boeing 747 at 30,000 feet than try to operate the human liver. It’s the single largest organ in the body and works tirelessly at the unsavory job of detoxifying us from all the awfulness (chemicals, toxins, pollution) with which we challenge our bodies. ITI Lipotropic Complex combines several herbs (notably milk thistle) and supplements to enhance liver function. ITI Detoxication Factors specifically targets the two key pathways of toxin removal.
So many studies link low vitamin D levels to early heart disease and certain cancers that vitamin D has moved into the must-take category, especially in a city like Chicago where our annual exposure to sunlight is pathetic. I take 2,000 IU of D daily.
I’ve been taking this for years. It acts to reduce the “stickiness” of blood cells called platelets and by doing so reduces the risks of both heart attack and stroke.
ITI Multiplex without iron (twice daily)
ITI Daily Energy B Complex (once daily)
ITI CytoRedoxin (twice daily)
ITI Lipoic Acid (twice daily)
New Chapter GWT (tea blend, twice daily)
ITI Ultra Resveratrol (once daily)
True Botanica Curcumin (once daily)
ITI Pure EFA (twice daily unless I’m eating fish that day, then once)
ITI Acetyl-L-Carnitine (twice daily)
Jarrow CDP Choline (citicoline, twice daily)
ITI Lipotropic Complex (twice daily)
ITI Detoxification Factors (twice daily)
ITI Healthy Cells Prostate (twice daily)
Thorne Vitamin D 2,000 IU (once daily)
Low-dose (81 mg) aspirin (once daily)
It’s quite a list, I’ll admit. But I’d like to add that my associate Dr. Paul Rubin has his own list and, believe it or not, it’s longer than mine. At least you can be reassured that we ourselves try to follow the health advice we give you.
David Edelberg, MD