I am asked all the time which supplements I take, so I thought I would share the what and why with you of my medicine cabinet. Understand that hormones, supplements and vitamins needed to be individualized for each person. I have added and subtracted various ones as the need arose over the years. If you are part of our HTCA bio-identical hormone replacement pellet therapy program or have had your advanced lipid and genetic testing done through our Berkeley Heart Lab or had BRCA testing done to evaluate your risk of ovarian and breast cancer, then you have been given recommendations about hormones, supplements and vitamins based on your own results. This blog can be a good guide for you, though, and hopefully will encourage you to think about becoming healthier!
1. ADK vitamins- a capsule taken daily containing 5000iu Vitamin A, 5000iu Vitamin D, and 500mg Vitamin K. The vitamin D is primarily for healthy bones. My vitamin D level was low, and the Vitamin A and K are needed to help vitamin D work properly. In it's active form- 1,25 (OH)2 D3-vitamin D can also help lower blood pressure. More than one study has shown Vitamin D deficiency to be associated with worsening symptoms of Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's disease.
2. Vitamin C- 1000 mg per day. This vitamin is extremely important for collagen synthesis which is why I started taking it. Vitamin C applied topically helps decrease wrinkles and dryness. It is also important for wound healing and supports our immune system. Vitamin C will increase iron absorption, decrease the risk of cataracts and help lower blood pressure.
3. Vitamin E- 1000iu capsule each day. I started taking this years ago for the benefits to my skin and also to decrease cysts from fibrocystic breast disease. It is also effective in reducing LDL (the bad cholesterol). Absorption is best when taken with a meal.
4. Astragalus- specifically TA-65. This is the newest supplement I've started based on what I've learned for the board exam in anti-aging medicine. It works for anti-aging by decreasing telomere shortening in the DNA. Breaks and failed repairs in our DNA is what ages us. Astragalus is taken as 100 units per day in capsule form. It is also an immune stimulant, is used in some cancer treatments, enhances digestion, and helps treat peptic ulcer disease. One drawback....the cost. 30 capsules is $100. There are other brands of astragalus that are cheaper, but I chose to stick with TA-65 because this was the one used in research studies.
5. Iodine Plus- 12.5 mg capsule each day. 72% of the world has an iodine deficiency. Why? There is an environmental decline in iodine. Plus, diets are loaded with pasta and breads which contain bromide and fluoride and these compete with iodine for binding in the thyroid. Iodine is needed for the thyroid to work properly so for those who are hypothyroid, like myself, iodine supplementation is often needed. Iodine supplementation is beneficial in a host of other diseases as well, such as fibrocystic breasts, fatigue, migraines, ovarian cysts, parotid duct stones and sebaceous cysts.
6. B complex vitamin- one tablet a day. I don't have a specific brand I prefer. I take this for a variety of reasons. B6 helps decrease blood pressure and improve insulin resistance. B vitamins also help in the conversion of T4 (a thyroid hormone) to active T3. Ridges on the nails can be associated with a low vitamin B6. Vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folate help estrogen break down into a safer form that is less likely to cause breast cancer. Vitamin B6 is also used as a treatment for PMS and as an adjunct for overactive adrenal glands.
7. Krill Oil- 2000mg each day. Krill oil is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. I prefer it over fish oil because I don't tend to get those fishy taste burps with Krill oil. Omega-3s have so many benefits that they almost deserve a blog post of their own. They decrease the risk of heart disease and heart attacks and act as anti-inflammatories as well as improve the body's sensitivity to insulin and decrease blood pressure. Studies have shown that prenatal vitamins containing omega-3s result in fewer children with ADD, dyslexia and higher IQs.
8. L-carnosine- one tablet a day. Carnosine is found primarily in the brain and muscle. It is a powerful anti-oxidant. I take it to improve the appearance of my skin and to increase muscle strength and endurance since I am a runner. I just recently started this one, so I'll keep you updated on how "speedy" I become! It has also been touted as an anti-aging supplement working similar to astralgus mentioned above. L-carnosine has been shown to reduce cataracts and help heal peptic ulcer disease when combined with zinc.
9. Reservatrol- one capsule a day. There are many functions of this supplement derived from red grapes and found in red wine, peanuts, mulberries, blueberries and cranberries. Reservatrol decreases blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease. It decreases glucose, HBAIC and neuropathy while increasing insulin sensitivity in patients with diabetes. It has anti-cancer properties and helps decrease amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's patients.
10. CoQ-10- 200 mg per day. Vital for patients who take statins to lower their cholesterol, CoQ-10 also helps reduce blood pressure. It is a potent anti-oxidant. Our levels of CoQ-10 decrease as we age. CoQ-10 has been shown to increase cancer survival, decrease blood pressure, help heal periodontal disease, and slow the decline of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease.
These are just a few of the many supplements out there. You may need one, all or none of the above. Again it depends on your underlying medical conditions and your genetics. Since I am menopausal, have hypothyroidism, run and have a bad genetic profile on my Berkeley advanced lipid and genetic testing, I chose some of the supplements above. Because of my interest in aesthetics, I chose some of the others for their anti-aging properties. I strongly advise everyone to check with their doctor before starting a new vitamin or supplement to ensure it is right for you and that there are no drug interactions with your other medications.
Anne R Trussell MD