Supplement Basics

While other supplements may not be as critical as omega-3 fatty acids, iodine and vitamin D, they are needed by almost everyone and can greatly improve most people’s general health.

by Dr. Larry Wilson — 

To function at your best, I recommend several basic food supplements. The most important are omega-3 fatty acids, iodine and vitamin D3. Additional minerals that are needed by most people are calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, chromium and selenium. Also very helpful are vitamins A, B, C, E and P (bioflavonoids).

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids perform a number of critical functions for the skin, nervous system and the prevention of inflammation.

They keep cell membranes flexible and enable them to transfer nutrients and waste products in and out of the cells correctly. They also perform this function for the skin. Many rashes and other skin problems are caused by a fatty acid deficiency. These include rashes in newborns and breast-fed infants, due to deficiencies in the mothers’ diets during and after pregnancy.

Omega-3s help with nerve transmission and other vital nervous system activities. Many nervous system disorders, such as ADD, autism and delayed development in children, may respond to more omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.

Fatty acids also help prevent excessive inflammation in the body. This is an important indirect cause of many illnesses today. Instead of taking statin drugs, for example, some patients may substitute healthful food supplements and thus experience many fewer side effects.

Why most Americans are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids

Most of the meat Americans buy comes from grain-fed animals. These animals’ diets are much lower in omega-3 fatty acids than their natural diets, which include grasses, leaves and small insects. Vegetarian diets also tend to be very low in omega-3 fatty acids.

The absurd laws in most states require dairy products to be pasteurized and homogenized. These processes destroy the few omega-3 fatty acids left in most dairy products today. Grass-fed and free-range dairy products are still excellent sources, but only if they are not pasteurized and homogenized.

Refined-food diets make things worse because most are high in vegetable oils. Examples include french fries and other fried foods, chips and almost all baked goods. These contain omega-6 rich oils, which compete with the omega-3 oils for absorption and utilization in the body.

Overcooking always destroys omega-3 fatty acids. Fats such as butter, cream and flaxseed oil should ideally be eaten in their raw state. Eggs and meats should be cooked very lightly to preserve the fatty acids. However, I don’t recommend eating raw eggs or meats, because they often contain harmful bacteria, which are killed by light cooking.

How to incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids into the diet

• Eat wild game, grass-fed or free-range meats, eggs and other dairy products. These are among the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure meats are really grass-fed or free-range. Dairy must be raw and certified to be safe and to yield the greatest amount of omega-3 fatty acids. If your state does not allow raw, certified dairy products to be sold, they can be obtained over the Internet.

• Take fish, flaxseed or hempseed oil — about one teaspoon daily. Alternatively, eat salmon or sardines twice weekly only. Beware that nut and seed oils go rancid very quickly. Buy them refrigerated, even though some companies claim that theirs stay fresh without refrigeration in the store.

Once opened, store them in the bottom of the refrigerator, and don’t keep them far beyond their expiration date. Throw them away if they start to smell or taste bad, as they are quite toxic when rancid.

• Cold-water fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Tuna is also a good source, but should not be eaten at all, as most of it is terribly contaminated with mercury. All fish contain some mercury, so I don’t recommend eating it more than twice a week.  Fresh salmon is best, but canned salmon and sardines will work. Farm-raised salmon is not nearly as good, so if possible, look for wild-caught salmon.

Infants and children

No time in life is more important than childhood for omega-3 intake. An omega-3 supplement should be a prominent part of prenatal care. The fact that it is not, is yet another indicator of the backward nature of modern medicine and public health protocols.

Rules for children

1. Fortify all baby food and formula with flaxseed, hempseed or fish oil. Do not trust labels that claim these foods are sufficiently enriched. Most are not enriched with omega-3 oils at all, even though they should be.

2. Avoid vegetarian diets for children. If necessary, sneak shredded meat, like dark-meat chicken, into other foods such as soups, tomato sauce or even smoothies.

A healthy alternative is to feed children raw (not pasteurized), certified organic butter, cream, milk or full-fat organic cheese, yogurt or kefir. Lightly cooked eggs with the yolks still liquid are also excellent for children. Raw, certified dairy products are available to purchase via the Internet.

3. Avoid junk foods. These include most cold cereals, lots of chips, french fries, ice cream, sauces, salad dressings, baked goods and other sources of vegetable oils. Most of these are overcooked and contain harmful chemicals.

Iodine or kelp

This element is greatly in need of supplementation today. Most people have low iodine in their diets and are not eating enough iodine-rich foods, like seafood and fish. However, please do not add a lot of either to your diet, as both are contaminated with mercury. Also, the iodine in iodized salt is not well absorbed today, so this source is not working as well as it has in the past.

Chlorine, bromides and fluorides compete with iodine for absorption and utilization. Our food, water and even the air in some cities are saturated with these toxins.

Insane laws on the books today force bread companies to use bromides in most baked products. While iodine was formerly used, it was thought people were getting too much, and was consequently outlawed. Most white flour is bleached with chlorine. This can form deadly chlorine compounds when mixed with sugar and other ingredients and then baked.

Most water supplies have added chlorine and fluoride, as well. Besides drinking this toxic concoction, the chemicals find their way into most prepared and packaged foods made with water.

How to improve iodine metabolism

• Avoid drinking fluoridated and, if possible, chlorinated water, as well as all foods made with these products. Also avoid restaurants for this reason.

• Avoid all baked goods, as much as possible.

• Supplement with iodine. Start slowly because some people are sensitive to it.

Options for supplementing with iodine

• Kelp. This is my first choice as an iodine supplement. Kelp is inexpensive and supplies a wide variety of trace minerals, making it much safer than iodine-only products. It also contains alginates to help bind toxic metals found in the kelp and all food. Its only drawback is that all products of the sea contain some toxic metals.

Most people can take about three kelp capsules daily. If using tablets, at least 12 to 15 must be taken, as most are small. Another option is kelp granules. They don’t taste great, but can be cooked into many dishes without anyone knowing they are there. Kombu, a Japanese type of kelp, is available in health food stores.

While iodine is generally important for adults, children need much less kelp. It can be added to foods, often without their knowledge. Try adding it when cooking omelets, soups, rice and other foods.

• Iodoral or Lugol’s solution. These common iodine-only products are mixtures of iodide and iodine, both of which are needed by the body. They do not contain toxic metals.

The main problems with these products are that they only supply a single mineral, and that iodine can compete with the absorption and utilization of other minerals. All single-mineral products can be taken to excess easily; therefore, it is imperative that a doctor supervises the use of either of these solutions. Also, because they can only be obtained with a prescription, there is the added hassle and expense of going to a doctor.

• Other iodine products. Atomidine, dulse, seaweed leaves and other iodine supplements are also available in many health stores. These are good, though I prefer kelp for the alginates and the other trace elements it contains.

• Other seaweeds. Nori, hiziki, dulse and Irish moss do not contain alginates in large amounts, so the toxic metals in them are more of a problem when eaten regularly, unlike kelp which can and should be consumed regularly.

Vitamin D3

Adequate vitamin D helps protect against rickets, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, infections, cancer and possibly other diseases as well. Common sources of vitamin D include exposing the skin to sunlight and consuming milk or other foods, such as fish liver oil, that either naturally contain or are enriched with vitamin D.

Recent research indicates that most people need far greater amounts of vitamin D than they are ingesting today. This may be due to living indoors away from the sun, the widespread use of sunblock or other reasons not yet clear.

Supplementing with vitamin D

Adults seem to need 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Children need less, as they are usually outside more, and may convert sunlight to vitamin D more efficiently than adults.

The best way to get vitamin D is to expose the chest, in particular, to the sun for about half an hour daily. However, this is not practical for most people, and it is not enough in some cases. A good indoor option is to use full-spectrum lights daily.

The best supplement is vitamin D3, usually made from cod or other fish liver oil. Cod liver oil provides many other benefits for most people. These include lots of extra vitamin A, other beneficial fatty acids and perhaps other yet unknown nutrients.

People who need extra vitamin D

Vitamin D is beneficial for anyone living in northern latitudes or rainy climates; those with indoor lifestyles, or if it is wintertime; people with darker skin color; and for those who have certain illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis or cancer.

Other supplements (for most everyone)

While other supplements may not be as critical as omega-3 fatty acids, iodine and vitamin D, they are needed by almost everyone and can greatly improve most people’s general health.

Minerals to supplement include calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium and manganese. Vitamins helpful for most people are A, B-complex, C, E and P (bioflavonoids).

Some people also may need a digestive aid and perhaps extra amino acids. However, if diet, digestion and eating habits are adequate, extra amino acids should be obtainable fairly easily from high-quality protein foods consumed in the diet.

Choosing a multivitamin and mineral product

All of the above nutrients may be obtained from a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement. However, one must choose carefully.

Problems with multinutrient products

• Mineral oxides. Read the labels and avoid these forms of minerals, such as magnesium oxide or zinc oxide. They tend to not be well absorbed by the body.

• Not enough zinc, manganese, chromium and selenium. Ideal daily amounts are about 20 mg of zinc chelate or picolinate. Zinc is needed for more than 100 body functions and is probably the most important mineral deficiency today.

Everyone can use at least 5 mg of manganese, usually as a chelate. Manganese is needed for the thyroid gland, energy production, blood sugar regulation and more.

Chromium is also needed for blood sugar regulation. About 500 mcg of chromium is sufficient for many people.

Selenium appears to be best utilized in a food-based or yeast-based form. About 200 mcg daily is excellent and helpful for brain function, thyroid activity and detoxification of all the heavy metals and toxic chemicals.

• Not enough calcium and magnesium. A good dosage is between 500 and 1,000 mg of calcium chelate, citrate or other quality form.

A good dosage of magnesium is between 400 and 800 mg of magnesium chelate, citrate, glycinate or other quality form of magnesium. Too much magnesium can cause diarrhea in sensitive people.

• Too much iron and copper. These can be very toxic for sensitive people. If possible, find products without them. However, if the vitamin does contain iron, the amount should be as low as possible and less than 20 mg daily. Menstruating women who do not eat a lot of meat and eggs may occasionally need extra iron.

The copper level should not be more than 0.5 mg or 500 mcg daily.

• Too much of vitamins B and C. Ideally, the amount should be no more than 10 mg of the B-complex, and only 100 to 500 mg of vitamin C daily.

These doses do not mean that higher doses are unsafe. However, for long-term use, they may not be needed, and could unbalance the body chemistry. Also, occasionally a person will have trouble taking even these reasonable amounts of supplementary nutrients. I recommend hair mineral analysis or possibly other tests to decide on more specific recommendations for an individual.


Dr. Lawrence Wilson has a medical degree and has been in the health field for more than 25 years. His books include Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, Legal Guidelines for Unlicensed Practitioners, Healing Ourselves and Manual of Sauna Therapy and The Real Self. He also co-authored Toxic Metals in Human Health and Disease and contributed to The Dangers of Socialized Medicine. or 928-445-7690.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number 6, December 2008/January 2009.

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