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Supplemental Insurance

With the holiday season around the corner, many of us will be tempted to indulge; eggnog finds its way into morning coffees, Christmas cookies replace toast at breakfast, and elves – or Susan from accounting – drop off trays of goodies in the office kitchen. In spite of the festive spirit and general sense of joy, the holidays can take a toll on one’s health, with many of us increasingly turning to supplements in an attempt to compensate for poor diet and lack of exercise.

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People buy all kinds of equipment, and take everything from aspirin to cod liver oil in an effort to stay healthy, but the health benefits of some of these modern elixirs have proven to be unfounded, while other old favorites can provide measurable long-term health benefits that can help stave off disease.

In a recent Esquire Magazine article, contributor Sarah Wexler interviewed top physicians from around the United States in an effort to separate health fact from health fiction, particularly in relation to supplements that can help stave off the leading killers of older men.

Fun fact number one: Half of all men who die in this country this year will be killed by heart disease, stroke, or cancer. Fun fact number two: Half of all doctors seem to have different ideas about how to prevent the biggest killers of men. We spoke to the best of them, and we’ve simplified, clarified, and prioritized their advice on minimizing the risks of dying before your time. (http://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/health/g2471/daily-supplements-prevent-leading-causes-of-death/)

The advice provided from physicians at some of the top medical clinics and hospitals in the United States is that the following supplements have a measurable health benefit, helping to prevent the onset of heart disease, cancer or stroke.

  1. A Good Quality Multivitamin. In men over 50, multivitamins have been shown to reduce the risks for colon and lung cancer. In men younger than 50, quality multivitamins can help promote proper organ function and cellular repair.
  2. Baby Aspirin. Aspirin thins the blood which prevents clotting and can help provide increased protection against arterial disease, heart attack, and stroke. Regular Aspirin use can also decrease the risks of colon and prostate cancer. Aspirin can be hard on the stomach, potentially increasing the risk for stomach bleeding or irritation, but this risk can be somewhat mitigated by keeping the individual doses small (81 mg is the standard low-dose tablet).
  3. Calcium and Magnesium. Calcium strengthens bones and teeth, but it’s also essential for blood clotting, stabilizing blood pressure, maintaining brain function and enabling cellular communication. Magnesium is need for approximately 300 different bodily functions, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. When taken together in a 1:1 ratio, calcium and magnesium can significantly improve digestive function and help to prevent colon cancer.
  4. Vitamin D3. The ‘sunshine vitamin’ promotes calcium absorption and bone formation, and also helps to modulate cell growth, neuromuscular, and immune function. Vitamin D3 can also reduce inflammation, and is the closest thing to a super pill we’ve found. Vitamin D3 can reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer. 1,000 IUs, consumed daily will provide you with what you need.
  5. Fiber. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and greatly reduce the risk of heart disease. Make sure that you’re getting at least 10 grams of fiber every day to maintain colon health and lower your risk for diabetes.

There are other supplements that have proven to have limited benefit, or even negative benefits. Skip the heavy ‘anti-oxidant’ supplements, and avoid fish oil pills. Large doses of Vitamin E may actually increase the risk of fatal heart attack, while excess beta-carotene has been shown to increase the chances of developing lung cancer. Instead of taking these things in pill form, simply eat more carrots and fish.

If you want to know more about which supplements are valuable and which ones are not, book a consultation with BodyMend’s nutrition team by emailing us at info@bodymend.ca

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