Supplementation: Your Weapon Against Nutritional Deficiencies

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Supplementation? Yes! On August 31, 2002 the American Medical Association reversed their long-standing anti-vitamin policy by stating, "The Journal of the American Medical Association today is advising all adults to take at least one multivitamin pill each day."

And there's more.....

An article published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, July 2010, reports that a study, conducted by Calton Nutrition's Department of Nutritional Research and Education, of the four most popular "healthy" diet plans showed a "significant prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies". These micronutrient deficiencies have been shown to be scientifically linked to a higher risk of dangerous degenerative diseases including cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, birth defects and obesity.

Based on this study's findings, the belief that a healthy, balanced diet can consistently provide, to a typical dieter, all of the essential vitamins and minerals they need, through whole food alone, is in dire need of revision.

Supplementation is a viable, low cost method to achieve micronutrient sufficiency and reduce the risk for some of today's most prevalent and devastating health conditions and diseases.

It's not just us "health nuts" encouraging supplementation. Even the medical professionals are telling us that we would all benefit from supplementation, and should take a daily multivitamin supplement to fill the nutritional gap that even the healthiest of diets cannot fill.

Supplementation and Liver Health

It’s fascinating to think of just how indispensable your liver is to the overall health and functioning of your body. Destroying toxic chemicals is just one of the nearly five hundred other duties the liver performs, including:

  • Metabolizing carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
  • Storing substances such as glycogen and fat-soluble vitamins
  • Manufacturing 13,000 different chemicals
  • Maintaining 2,000 enzyme systems
  • Filtering 100 gallons of blood daily
  • Producing 1 quart of bile daily

It’s no surprise that without a liver, we wouldn’t survive.

Keep in mind that the liver may be the most resilient organ in the body, but it was built this way because of how critical it is to maintain our lives. While we may think our livers are invincible, we need to realize that the liver is vulnerable to attack.

Perhaps these common signs that your liver may not be firing on all cylinders may help you identify whether or not you need to give your liver a little extra love:

  • Poor skin tone
  • Yellow-coated tongue
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Low energy level

If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, it’s possible your liver is a little worn out. For a more detailed list of symptoms of poor liver function you may want to refer to the liver symptom checklist.

However, the resiliency of the liver is absolutely mind-blowing, and its ability to bounce back and continue functioning is truly amazing. A wounded liver is still an effective one, as it has six detoxification pathways of its own. Because of this, your liver is able to carry on fighting. Life goes on and the constant work continues.

The good news is you can give your liver some extra support through supplementation.

Supplementation, in moderation, can be very supportive to your liver and beneficial to your total body health.

In this section you will read information about various supplements that nourish your liver and body on a daily basis. Daily supplementation can fill in those nutrient gaps that even the healthiest diet cannot fill.

As we discuss each supplement I may make some supplementation recommendations based on my experience with certain products brands.


Multivitamin/mineral Supplements: A good multivitamin could be all you need when it comes to supplementation. They key is finding one that actually dissolves in your system, provides a good balance of nutrients, and actually contains what it says on the ingredient list.

There are some important things to consider when choosing a multivitamin so do your research.

Iron Supplementation: Let's talk a little more about iron supplementation. The World Health Organization considers iron deficiency the number one nutritional disorder in the world. As many as 80% of the world's population may be iron deficient, while 30% may have iron deficiency anemia.

Iron deficiency anemia is an advanced stage of iron depletion. It occurs when storage sites of iron are deficient and blood levels of iron cannot meet daily needs. Blood hemoglobin levels are below normal with iron deficiency anemia.

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Here are a few symptoms of iron deficiency anemia:

  • Feeling tired and weak.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • A decrease in physical performance.
  • Learning problems in children and adults.
  • Poor immune system function which may increase your chance of getting an infection.

Your doctor should be the person who determines if you have an iron deficiency, what is causing the deficiency, and if iron supplementation is necessary. Never consume iron supplements without consulting with your doctor.

Iron deficiency is uncommon among adult men and postmenopausal women. These individuals have no need for iron supplementation, unless prescribed by a physician, because of a greater risk of iron overload.

Iron overload is a condition in which excess iron is found in the blood and stored in organs such as the liver and heart. Iron overload is associated with several genetic diseases including hemochromatosis, which affects approximately 1 in 250 individuals of northern European descent.

Individuals with hemochromatosis absorb iron very efficiently, which can result in a build up of excess iron and can cause organ damage such as cirrhosis of the liver and heart failure. Hemochromatosis is often not diagnosed until excess iron stores have damaged an organ.

Another danger to consider when you have supplements with iron around the house is the danger to children. Death in children has occurred from ingesting 200 mg of iron. It is important to keep iron supplements tightly capped and away from children's reach. Any time excessive iron intake is suspected, immediately call your physician or Poison Control Center, or visit your local emergency room.

Your best way of getting more iron in your diet is to consume iron-rich foods along with foods high in vitamin C and A found in citrus fruits and fresh vegetables. Vitamin A will help the body use iron and vitamin C will help absorb iron from foods containing iron.

Iron is found in the diet in two forms:

  1. Heme iron, which is well absorbed. The best dietary source of heme iron is lean red meat. Chicken, turkey, and fish are also sources of iron, but they contain less than red meat.
  2. Nonheme iron, which is poorly absorbed. Cereals, beans, and some vegetables contain nonheme iron.
Keep in mind that consuming iron-rich foods with milk, coffee, or tea may prevent good absorption of the iron.

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Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplementation: A high quality fish oil supplement can do amazing things for your health!

Do you consume cold-water, fatty fish; seafood; flax seeds; walnuts; and leafy green veggies daily? If not you probably aren't getting enough omega 3 fats in your diet.

Read more on about the importance of omega 3 fats in your diet and how to include more in your diet. It's crucial to your well being.

Milk Thistle Extract: Milk thistle is believed to have protective effects on the liver and improve its function. It is typically used to treat liver cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, and gallbladder disorders.

Silymarin, which can be extracted from the seeds of the milk thistle plant, is believed to be the biologically active part of the herb.

The chemical constituents of this herb are known to lower blood sugar levels, so you should not take it if you suffer from hypoglycemia or diabetes.

The National Cancer Institute is studying the effectiveness of silymarin for patients with leukemia who experience chemotherapy-related liver damage. The National Institute of Nursing Research is investigating whether milk thistle is an effective treatment for hepatitis C in people with both hepatitis C and HIV.

Super Milk Thistle by Enzymatic Therapyis a quality choice and affordable.

Probiotics: Scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria.

Unlike antibiotics which can negatively affect the bacterial balance in the digestive system by killing healthy bacteria, probiotics can facilitate the body's flora and prevent the production of harmful bacteria. I encourage people to use a probiotic any time that they are prescribed a round of antibiotics.

Coconut Oil: Here is an oil that is getting much attention these days! I can't say that it is all some websites are saying, but there is interesting research out there supporting some of the claims. With all of the information to discuss about coconut oil, I decided to give it a page to itself, so click this coconut oil link to learn more about supplementing, benefits, and cautions concerning this oil.

Vitamin D Supplementation: Vitamin D is not considered an essential vitamin for liver function, but liver function is essential to providing vitamin D to the body. The liver and kidneys change vitamin D to an active form. Because of this, people with liver disorders can develop vitamin D deficiencies.

Foods with vitamin D are few, mainly fatty fish liver, beef liver and eggs. It can be difficult to obtain enough this way, so some foods are fortified, including milk, cereal and bread.

Here are some reasons why healthy liver function is so important to vitamin D:

  • Vitamin D is readily obtained from sun exposure, but still must be converted by the liver and kidneys for use. The conversion of vitamin D to its active form occurs first in the liver and then second in the kidneys.
  • People who have difficulty absorbing dietary fat, may need vitamin D supplementation because it is fat soluble. Liver impairment can cause fat malabsorption.
  • The University of Tennessee researchers measured vitamin D levels of patients with chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis, and found over 92 percent had some level of vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D3 is made in large quantities when sunlight strikes bare skin.

The Vitamin D Council website notes that Vitamin D deficiency is linked to at least 17 variations of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.

Even more shocking is the clear link between vitamin D deficiency and Alzheimer's disease. Older adults who are severely deficient in vitamin D may be more than twice as likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease than those who don’t have a deficiency, according to the largest study of its kind, published recently in the journal Neurology.

If you are an older adult; get limited sun exposure; are dark-skinned; have a reduced ability to absorb dietary fats; are obese; or have had gastric bypass surgery you may be at increased risk for developing vitamin D deficiency.

My choice for a vitamin D3 supplement is Solgar Vitamin D3 Softgels. Solgar makes high quality vitamin supplements and packages them in amber glass bottles. I personally supplement with 1000 IUs daily. You may choose to go with a higher or lower strength depending upon your health needs.

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Supplementation with Wild Oregano Oil. Several years ago my husband and I were having some unusually bad allergy problems. Neither one of us had a history of allergy problems and we didn't feel as though we were so ill that we needed to see the doctor.

My husband heard about a product on a talk radio show called Oreganol, wild oregano oil, and he was convinced we needed to try it. We bought some at the health food store that day, put a few drops under our tongues each day for about five days and it worked!

I was so excited about how good I was feeling that I continued to use it for two or three more weeks.

It got rid of my allergies, it made me feel more energetic, and I didn't have a cold sore for over two years! Before that I would get several cold sores every year. Now I get them only occasionally when I get a sunburn or have severe stress.

Of course I started researching this miracle oil. Here is what I discovered:

The ancient Greeks were one of the first people to recognize oregano oil for its health benefits and medicinal qualities. It is known to be a potent antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic oil that can reduce pain and inflammation and effectively fight off infections.

Some of the specific benefits of Oil of Oregano supplementation are:

  • Destroys organisms that contribute to skin infections and digestive problems.
  • Strengthens the immune system.
  • Increases joint and muscle flexibility.
  • Improves respiratory health helping sinusitus, hay fever, and allergies.
  • Prevents colds and sore throats when caught early.
  • Fights yeast (candida) and fungi.
  • Potent lymphatic tonic, increasing lymph flow.
  • Studies show it destroys viruses. RNA and DNA viruses - including the types that cause shingles, cold sores, and genital herpes.
  • Research is ongoing to see if wild oregano oil can destroy cancer cells.

Be very particular about your choice of wild oregano oil. I've tried various brands. Many do not work.

To be edible, this essential oil should be made only from wild, mountain-grown, Mediterranean oregano, free of all chemicals and pesticides. It also has to be emulsified in a carrier oil such as extra virgin olive oil, which is used by North American Herb & Spice in its oil of oregano. Theirs is also produced by old-fashioned cold pressing and steam distillation. No chemicals are used to extract it.

North American Herb and Spice Oil of Oregano is the only oregano oil that I recommend. It's the first brand we used and has proven to be the best we've found. By the way, you don't have to take this everyday, all year long, so a small bottle lasts a long time.

For more information about this amazing oil you should read Cass Ingram's book, The Cure Is in the Cupboard: How to Use Oregano for Better Health (Revised Edition). You will be surprised.

Fermented Korean Ginseng

Ginseng is a superb supplement for enhancing liver health and adrenal health. While you may know about the many benefits of supplementing with ginseng, you may not be aware of how those benefits are boosted by the fermentation process.

Recent studies have found that fermented ginseng has numerous health benefits which include anti-aging benefits, benefits for menopausal women, enhanced sexual function, and cancer prevention, and that’s just the highlights.

Ginseng has been shown in clinical studies the following benefits on health:

  • Enhances liver function
  • Aids in Managing Stress
  • Purifies the Blood of Toxins
  • Improves blood quality
  • Assists in Balancing Blood Sugar
  • Mental Clarity and Focus
  • Brain Health
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Stimulates and Supports Digestion Supports Strong Immune System
  • Helps to Alkalize Your Body
  • Helps to Increase Energy and Vitality
  • Antioxidant Benefits
  • Anti Inflammatory Benefits
Now consider that fermented ginseng has been found to be far more potent than unfermented ginseng! In the past I have supplemented with ginseng but eventually stopped when I didn’t really feel that it was making a difference in my overall health and wellness.

When a customer, who was educated in health and wellness, came into my store a few months ago inquiring about a ginseng product that was fermented, I began investigating a supplement called Gin ST-15 Fermented Ginseng.

Compared to traditional ginseng extract, when the Gin ST-15 fermented ginseng extract is taken, a far larger amount (fifteen times more) is absorbed in the blood. The Gin ST-15 extract also provides four times faster absorption, and five times more consistent absorption, than standard ginseng extract. I was impressed and within a week it was on our shelves and my co-workers and I put it to the test.

Obviously I was pleased with the results or I wouldn’t have listed it here. After two months of supplementing with the softgels (it also comes in an elixir)…..I am hooked. The most obvious improvement that I am seeing is stamina. As a menopausal woman, my energy level was diminishing over the past months. It has definitely improved and I am very excited about the potential benefits of this supplement.

Supplementation Points to Remember

The supplements listed above are some that are most beneficial, that I have found, for liver and total body health. There are other herbs and various supplements that are being scientifically researched that may eventually become a part of this supplementation list.

Always follow the dosage instructions printed on the label by the supplement manufacturer unless otherwise instructed by your doctor or other health professional.

Remember that supplements are different from medications in that they don't often show immediate results. Instead of treating the symptoms, as medications do, you are improving your overall health so your body can heal itself.

When using supplementation you may not see results for days or weeks and often the improvements are so subtle that you don't realize they're working right away. Be patient and positive and give your supplementation plan at least 90 days before you try something else.

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