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Dietary supplements and aging

How do dietary supplements interact with us, aging?  Is it essential to take dietary supplements if you already have a varied diet?

These questions are relevant and important.

Doctors rarely recommend dietary supplements, or if they do, they will in the form of prescriptions such as vitamin D, prenatal multi-vitamins, calcium and so on.

Supplements should not replace a healthy and balanced diet but rather complement it.  We must ensure that we give our body all the food it needs to keep all its systems functioning properly.  Is it possible to use dietary supplements to treat chronic symptoms?

The human body is made up of eleven systems, each of which performs a function essential to the maintenance of its organization and its proper functioning. Our body is a “whole” in which each of its parts is closely related to the others; all work together to maintain its organization, integrity and well-being. Thus, none of them is less or more important than another: they are all vital to the maintenance of life, each of them taking on an essential function.

What do vitamins do

A vitamin is an organic molecule necessary for the proper functioning of the body, which cannot be made by the body. It is therefore imperative to consume it through food, otherwise we risk deficiency, with sometimes serious consequences. “It is a situation of deficiency that allows us to understand the usefulness of vitamins,” explains Dr Boris Hansel, a nutritionist at the Bichat Hospital in Paris. Thus, it was the scurvy of sailors, deprived of fresh fruit, that made it possible to understand the importance of vitamin C.

Mechanisms of vitamin action

Vitamins have several roles. They may, for example, be coenzymes. Enzymes are small “machines” that transform other products to perform actions necessary for the proper functioning of the cell, and they sometimes need partners to do this. For example, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B3, B5 or B6 are involved in enzymatic reactions such as energy production.

Other vitamins, such as vitamin C, are antioxidant. In the cell, many activities produce aggressive molecules called “free radicals”. Ascorbic acid will stabilize these radicals to prevent them from attacking the cell. Vitamin E, which can be inserted into the cell membranes, is also an antioxidant.

Vitamins can also be used as messengers. Thus vitamin D, synthesized in part by the skin through sun exposure, can be modified to become calcitriol. This molecule is not only necessary for calcium absorption, it is also a messenger that will tell cells to produce more of certain proteins.

Vitamins have respective roles but they work in collaboration with others and it is important to understand this phenomenon.

For example, our cells must be well hydrated to ensure their proper functioning.  The mitochondria is the worker inside the cell; for hydration it takes water of course but if the water is not well absorbed the mitochondria could not do its job well.  Magnesium to open the door, potassium to retain the water inside, sodium for the 40-60 balance and calcium which is the foreman of the site.

Water-soluble vitamins

They are, by definition, soluble in water and are not stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and B group vitamins (B1 to B12).

List of vitamins

  • A (retinol) and Carotenes, D (Calciferol), E (Rocopherol),
  • K (phylloquinone), C (ascorbic acid), B1 (thiamine),
  • B2 (riboflavin),B3 (vitamin PP, niacin, nicotinamide),
  • B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (biotin, vitanimousH),
  • B9 (folic acid), B12 (cobalamin)

What are minerals used for?

Minerals represent 4% of an individual’s total mass, constituents of enzymes, hormones and vitamins, they contribute to the structure of bones and teeth and are associated with heart rate, muscle contraction, nerve conduction and the body’s water and acid-base balance. Phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in the body, after calcium. It plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. It contributes to the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps to maintain the pH of the blood at normal levels.

list of Water and mineral salts

Water, Sodium, Calcium and Magnesium.

Trace elements

Iron, Iodine, Zinc, Copper, Selenium.

What are trace elements used for?

Even in trace amounts, they participate, for example, in enzymatic activity, in other words in the chemical reactions that determine the growth, reproduction and functioning of our brain… They enter into the structure of certain vitamins and the functioning of our hormones.

They are involved in many physiological functions: bone mineralization, muscle system regulation, water balance control, blood glucose regulation, red and white blood cell synthesis, and many other body functions.

A trace element is a mineral salt necessary for the life of an organism, but in very small quantities, less than 1 ppm (1 mg per kg body weight).

When in high level in the body, trace elements are toxic. The effect of a trace element depends on the dose of intake. When the trace element is said to be essential, a deficiency or excessive intake can lead to serious disorders.

Food value on our plate

Several factors influence the quality of the food we choose to put in our grocery basket.

When we choose exotic foods; it all depends on your geography: orange is exotic, papaya, bananas.  You must understand that harvesting must be done early to accommodate transportation to the final destination which is your supermarket.  As a result, the food is not mature and does not contain all the nutrients that should be found in it.  Preferably eat local food.

Food preparation is also a factor that influences the residual food value of your meal.  Eating raw is the best way to preserve as many vitamins and minerals as possible? Yes, in many cases, but it’s not that simple…. Cooking has many advantages: it brings out flavors and aromas, and makes foods more digestible, especially fruit and vegetable fibres.

However, cooking food causes physical and chemical transformations: vitamins and minerals can be altered or destroyed by a quick turn in the pan or oven. This weakens or suppresses their benefits for the organism. Some nutrients are more fragile than others. For example, as Anses (Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail) points out, “vitamin C is the most fragile of all vitamins”, because it is sensitive to heat, but also to water, air and light… On the other hand, even if it can be destroyed by oxidation, vitamin A remains fairly stable during cooking, with a maximum loss of about 15%.

Cooking methods: Water, steam or soft cooking, stewing, baking: low temperature and papillote, sautéed vegetables, microwave.  For cooking mode details HERE

choose local foods

There are many good reasons to choose local foods: their food value will not be affected by transport, environmental impact, the local economy is important of course, etc.

There is another factor that I want to bring up; eating local food ensures that we respect the harmony between the seasons, our geographical location and our physical needs.  Let’s take Pineapples as an example: Pineapples grow in the tropics, they are very sweet (11.3g sugar / 100g)!  In the tropics, people are active, they spend a lot of time outdoors, they move, they move a lot.  Pineapples are not available in the North!  They should not be part of our menu.  They were introduced by transport, etc.  People in the North are a lot less active in winter – simply because of weather restrictions.  So when we consume hyper-sweet foods in a season when our physical activity is restricted, well, that means that we don’t burn this sugar so we store it, etc.  Ideally, our diet should follow the seasons and local availability of food.

Studies now show that economic and social changes can affect residents’ food choices and thus their health: many Asian countries are experiencing rapid economic and social changes, resulting in radical changes in eating habits and lifestyles. For example, in China, traditional eating habits, characterized by high consumption of vegetables and whole grains and limited consumption of animal products, are shifting towards Western eating habits, characterized by higher consumption of fast food, processed meats, refined and highly processed carbohydrates and sweetened drinks. The concomitant spread of Western-style fast food and the diabetes epidemic has raised an important public health issue: Does increased consumption of these foods contribute to cardiometabolic diseases, particularly in Asian populations? They found that Chinese Singaporeans who ate Western-style fast food more than twice a week had an increased risk of type 2 diabetes of 27% and an increased risk of dying from coronary heart disease of 56%, compared to their peers who reported little or no consumption. Although globalization has undoubtedly brought about beneficial changes in society, its unintended consequences are at the root of the global obesity epidemic.   For the complet study HERE

To know everything about dietary supplements, in detail: function, signs of deficiency, recommended daily intake, etc.  See
Tableau De Vitamines et Minéraux(document in French)

How aging affects our absorption of vitamins, minerals and trace elements

The state of our gastrointestinal system is the factor that influences the absorption of dietary supplements in the first place.  Long-term medication, stress, fluctuations in our hormone levels all have an impact on the tightness of our digestive tract, which serves as a filter for the transmission of nutrients to the rest of our body.

Malabsorption of nutritional elements and thus create a deficiency more quickly and its consequences; decreased twilight vision, immune deficiency, concentration disorders, memory loss, digestive disorders, etc.

How to select dietary supplements

The most important thing to remember about the purchasing process is to read the label and understand what your product is made of.  Unfortunately, over-the-counter products often have too high a content of both carbohydrates and artificial products per tablet.

To ensure that supplements that are subject to quality control (and that are free of illegal substances) are consumed, some companies comply with the standards. Look for the NSF and Informed-Choice logos. “Random tests are done three times a year to ensure that what is on the label is actually in the pot,” says Steven Couture. The company must pay a significant amount in order to have its supplements certified.”  – Sophie Allard, La Presse HERE

How to take them

The dosage recommended by your trusted professional must be respected.  If you are taking vitamin therapy, it goes without saying that each dose has its own function.

You have to drink water and more water.  And take your vitamins with water too.

When taking prescription medication, check with your professional to ensure that you are not interfering with the effectiveness of your medications.

I would recommend that you take them at the end of the day, even after the last meal.  The final digestion cycle will include supplements to make up for the day’s deficit and promote its absorption.

How long does it take to take effect

It’s always difficult to put a date on the calendar.  When you undertake your personalized accelerated health recovery program, the protocol includes supplementing, the professional will determine the sequences and cycles of vitamin therapy.  The professional will also choose protocols that vary from thirty to ninety days, and perhaps more, depending on several factors: short, medium and long-term objectives, chronic disease, menopausal and andropause, etc.

When taking nutritional supplements it is essential to adhere to the other sections of the program to benefit from all the advantages of the protocol.

Taking supplements to compensate for a poor diet, high in carbohydrates, low in good fat, and too high in protein will not have the desired effects.


Louise Therrien ND

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