Chapter 10 – Supplements: Safety and Insurance
After years of knocking supplements, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has finally acknowledged how people are needlessly vitamin and mineral deficient, and recently published the statement that every person should take a multi mineral/vitamin daily saying “suboptimal intake of some vitamins (and minerals), above levels causing classic deficiency, is a risk factor for chronic diseases and common in the general population, especially the elderly.” (1)
But deciding which supplements to go with can be tricky, as there are hundreds of products to choose from, with many different quality ranges.
There are many stand alone products you can buy to top up individual minerals. For example, calcium, or magnesium only products are plentiful. However, statistically the more pills or capsules that we have to remember to take translates into greater non-compliance. So is it possible to get all your minerals in one source, rather than buying and taking many different products?
Typical multivitamins do help the problem of ‘compliance’ as taking one capsule or tablet per day is 5 times more likely than taking 5 capsules per day, especially over the long run.
However, the danger of multivitamins are that they are false insurance because of the often minimal amounts of each ingredient. The risk is the assumption made that a multivitamin has the right amounts of the various vitamins and minerals.
For example, one of the most popular multivitamins on the market, recommended by 63% of pharmacists, is ‘Centrum for Adults’. It contains the 5 major minerals you need, in these amounts: potassium 2%, calcium 20%, magnesium 13%, phosphorous 2%, chloride 2%. But it contains zero sulphur and sodium (% of your DV -Daily Value). ‘Centrum for Adults’ does provide some of the needed trace minerals in amounts more in keeping with optimum health. The average percentage for manganese, selenium, copper, molybdenum, chromium in ‘Centrum for Adults’ is a respectable 65.
Granted that some amounts of minerals are attained through the foods we eat, ‘Centrum for Adults’ may allow the average person to approach 100% Daily Value for a few trace minerals, but not for the 5 major minerals listed. (2)
Since multi vitamins generally provide a false sense of mineral security, is the answer to buy dedicated, specialized supplements, like a calcium only tablet?
Unfortunately that has downsides too. In the case of typical, traditional calcium supplements for example, increased heart attack risk is one of the documented pitfalls. This is due specifically to the fact that these types of supplements are lacking necessary co-factors like vitamin D and K2 that are essential for getting the calcium to your bones, not your arteries.
Adding to the problem is that traditional calcium supplements are sourced from rock. Often disguised by the more palatable name of ‘calcium carbonate’, rock calciums, which account for approximately 90% of ‘stand alone’ calcium supplements, are not properly absorbed, especially when compared to plant sources of calcium.
Plant Based Multi Mineral Supplements
However, multi mineral supplements, featuring high levels of calcium, magnesium, as well as ample amounts of needed trace minerals like silica, copper, manganese and more (made entirely from sea algaes) have emerged on the market. They appear to be making traditional rock calciums obsolete as they naturally are absorbed better by your body; the calcium and other minerals is directed straight to the bones not the arteries, due to added vitamin D and K2 that certain select products like AlgaeCal Plus include.
As well, calcium supplements sourced from plant instead of rock have been accompanied with published clinical studies showing increases in bone density. Considering that traditional rock sourced ‘calcium carbonate’ products statistically only slow down bone loss, plant calciums such as AlgaeCal as welcome allies in the fight against bone disorders such as osteoporosis.
- Fletcher RH and Fairfield KM. Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults: Clinical Applications JAMA. 2002; 287:3127-3129.