No. of Recommendations: 4
<Hi Wendy,
I have seen you post about certain vitamins/supplements that you take and was wondering what your regimen is and why you take what, etc. I value your opinion. I hate taking anything, but want to look into this topic. You mentioned taking gelatin as well once.>

Hi, Brenda.

Like you, I hate taking supplements so I only take those that seem to have good supporting evidence. By good supporting evidence, I mean large studies run by universities (which are probably impartial), not claims by supplement manufacturers.

Remember that food supplements are NOT regulated for safety and efficacy by the Food & Drug Administration.

In my opinion, these are the most important factors in health maintenance. They should be done before taking dietary supplements.

1. Get enough physical activity.

2. Eliminate simple carbohydrates, especially sugar, from your diet. Sugar is pro-inflammatory and toxic in greater than trace amounts. The key is to eat a low glycemic load to prevent spikes of sugar and insulin in the blood. Some people are relatively tolerant but others are intolerant and sugar causes havoc in those sensitive individuals. Carbohydrates are fuel, while fats and proteins are structural materials as well as fuel.

3. Get plenty of sleep. Loads of evidence that sleep deprivation causes all kinds of havoc.

4. Maintain a normal body weight for your age. For middle-aged and older, BMI from 20-30 is optimal. Mortality is U-shaped with excess mortality from underweight as well as obesity. (see details below)

5. De-stress your life to lower your blood pressure. Yoga/ meditation works for me.

These are the supplements I take.
1. I pay attention to eating all the elements I need daily. I eat non-fat Greek yogurt for calcium, take 1 teaspoon of Milk of Magnesia for magnesium, and eat Lite Salt for both sodium and potassium. The recommended amount of potassium is 4.3 g per day. It is hard to get enough. Potassium is needed for nerve transmission and many other things. Adequate potassium is correlated with lower blood pressure. I eat onions and eggs for sulfur and meat for phosphorus. I almost never eat out or eat processed food because commercial food is drenched in (cheap) sodium chloride but does not contain (expensive) potassium so it raises blood pressure.

2. I pay attention to the amino acids in my food. The essential amino acids are chemical precursors of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and melatonin. (cf. "The Mood Cure"). I eat the recommended amount of protein every day with lean meat, chicken, eggs and fish. Eating protein from plant sources may be OK if enough of the essential AAs are present. Meat is generally balanced in AAs.

3. The specific amino acid needed for collagen, proline, is not common enough in most high-protein foods. (Except very tough meat and cartilage joints.) I eat 1 teaspoon of plain gelatin each day (in food) to supplement proline. Since I have done this, my nails, hair and tendons are noticeably stronger. Other supplements are Vitamin K and biotin, but I don't believe in megadosing and I think I get plenty of these in my diet.

4. I take a 50+ multivitamin with minerals every day. The 50+ vitamin does not have iron. I tried a B vitamin supplement (which my mother used to take) but I got so HOT that I had to stop. B vitamins are co-factors in energy production (metabolism) in the mitochondria. If I felt cold or low energy, I would try a B complex supplement.

5. I eat yellow, orange, red and green vegetables every day for phytochemicals, like antioxidants and the anti-cancer chemicals in broccoli. (I can see well in the dark as a result of high carotenoid consumption.)

6. I used to take 1000 mg calcium until recently when a large study showed no benefit.

7. I take a tiny aspirin (80 mg) daily since large studies have shown significant reductions in various types of cancer.

8. I take fish oil because it is anti-inflammatory. In my experience, fish oil helps reduce hot flashes (this is a personal observation, not scientific). I also give it to my dogs because it makes their coats shiny.

9. I take Vitamin D supplements starting in October. I adjust the dosage depending on my mood, since I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I now think that SAD is just a symptom of Vitamin D deficiency. I add Vitamin D as needed and by March I am taking about 4500 I.U. per day. Once the sun is strong enough that I can spend time outside, I eliminate the supplementation. I expose my skin until I'm a light, toasty brown. I don't believe that 100% sunscreen is beneficial if it leads to Vitamin D deficiency.

I hope this helps. I have also written more details below.

To live a long, healthy life, keep weight in the normal to overweight range. Both low Body Mass Index (BMI < 18) and obesity (BMI > 30) correlate with higher death risk. Since the risks of obesity are well-publicized, this note will focus on the risk of being underweight.

To be underweight requires restricting calories, especially fat. Such diets are often deficient in other nutrients as well, including protein and minerals.

1.Low BMI (< 18) elevates the risk of death. Being gaunt lowers the risk of diabetes, some cancers and cardiovascular disease, but it lowers the body’s energy reserves and (statistically) is associated with elevated total death risk compared with normal and overweight people.
2.Fat balance and amount. It’s necessary to eat enough fats of the right type.
3.Calcium balance and the risk of osteoporosis.


Fats are essential in the body because all cell membranes and the myelin (insulation of brain neurons) are made of fat.

The two main types of potentially helpful dietary fat:

¦Monounsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

¦Polyunsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. One type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3s, found in some types of fatty fish, appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.
Foods made up mostly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, such as olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil and corn oil.

The recommendation is 44 to 78 grams of total fat a day. One teaspoon of olive oil contains 4.5 grams of fat, so 10 – 20 teaspoons of fat is recommended. There are many vegetarian sources of essential fatty acids. Personally, I eat walnuts, peanuts (which also contain choline), ground flax seed (which also contains fiber), chia seeds (which are also high in protein), olive and canola oils. Since I’m not a vegetarian, I also take fish oil daily, which is an anti-inflammatory.

Cholesterol is important because the brain is partially built out of cholesterol. Only meats contain cholesterol, but the body can make it out of other fats, so vegetarians should be OK if they eat enough fat. There is some evidence that eating too LITTLE fat is correlated with an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

To calculate your BMI:

Mortality and BMI

In middle-aged adults, the relation between body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2) and overall mortality is U-shaped, with increased risk in the lowest and highest percentiles. That is, very skinny and very fat people are at higher risk of death, but normal and overweight people are at lower risk of death.

In contrast, studies in elderly persons suggest that the risk of mortality decreases with increasing body weight. In the elderly, being overweight or even obese does not increase morbidity or mortality, but being underweight correlates with increased morbidity (e.g. bedsores) and mortality (death).

Cause-specific relative risks of mortality from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1971-1994, with mortality follow-up through 2000 (571, 042 person-years of follow-up) were combined with data on BMI from 1999-2002 with underlying cause of death information for 2.3 million adults 25 years and older from 2004 vital statistics data for the United States…. [This is a gigantic data set, so the results are statistically very reliable. – W]

Based on total follow-up, underweight (BMI < 18) was associated with significantly increased mortality from noncancer, non-CVD (cardiovascular disease) causes (23,455 excess deaths) but not associated with cancer or CVD mortality. Overweight (BMI 25-30) was associated with significantly decreased mortality from noncancer, non-CVD causes (-69 299 excess deaths) but not associated with cancer or CVD mortality. [Obesity (BMI >30) was associated with elevated deaths, but I won’t discuss that here because we are focused on underweight. – W]

Excess Deaths Associated With Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity

1.Katherine M. Flegal, PhD;
2.Barry I. Graubard, PhD;
3.David F. Williamson, PhD;
4.Mitchell H. Gail, MD, PhD
AMA. 2005;293(15):1861-1867. doi: 10.1001/jama.293.15.1861

Objective To estimate deaths associated with underweight (body mass index [BMI]

Results Relative to the normal weight category (BMI 18.5 to


Low BMI is correlated with higher risk of osteoporosis even when Low BMI is defined as 22 and not as 18 or less. A combination of lower nutritional intake and less physical stress on the bones seems to be the reason. Even if you lift weights from time to time, a heavier person carries more weight around ALL the time. If you are light weight, it’s essential to stress the bones regularly and eat plenty of calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D to maintain bone strength.

Bottom line: Maintaining a BMI between 22-30 is the best for long life.

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