Life Support

Last December, I met my irreplaceable friend J. in New York for a few days of drink, debauchery, gluttony, shopping, an over dose of museums and constant conversation to celebrate a BIG birthday. On the last morning, we repaired to Sarah Beth’s Kitchen for a decadent breakfast repast. Simultaneously and without prior discussion, we both dumped a handful of supplements on the table and burst into laughter at the sight. “This” I said, “is breakfast with two 60+ year olds!” When, I wondered, did breakfast start to include more things in capsules and horse size pills than what was on the plate?

Breakfast with the 60+ crowd

Breakfast with the 60+ crowd

In a perfect world, we should have a diet so nutrient rich that supplements are superfluous. But we have now been unconsciously persuaded to think that we must be lacking in some area. And if our diet contains a lot of processed, sugar laden and sodium stoked food rather than fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and lean protein, this may be true. Enter the supplement.

I questioned my doc, Dr. Sandra Lithgow, a lovely and brainy practitioner, as to what supplements are appropriate and beneficial to a post menopausal woman. I did this without first revealing to her what I was gobbling down daily. Here’s what she told me:

  1. A “colorful” diet of whole foods, exercise (including weight training) and plenty of sleep are the REAL prescription for health and longevity.
  2. Vitamin taking can reach extreme proportions and lead to toxicity and unwanted side effects, so use moderation.
  3. Vitamin D3 is essential. Have your levels checked and take 1000 units/day
  4. Calcium supplements are not necessary if your diet includes dairy, unless you have bone density issues. She cautions that it can cause constipation, GI upset and even kidney stones.
  5. CoQ10 is recommended if you are taking statins.
  6. Fish oil (Omega 3) is beneficial for the heart and brain. Take 1-2 caps daily.
  7. Vitamin B complex is helpful neurologically.
  8. Vitamin C is excellent for the immune system but avoid Vitamins K and A which can be toxic.

    My daily dose

    My daily dose

I was elated to hear that this coincided with much of what I am taking, with a few exceptions. I take a daily baby aspirin to reduce plaque in the arteries. Both Viviscal and Biotin are included in my regimen for hair health and growth. She recognizes Biotin for its benefits to hair, skin and nails but had no opinion on the Viviscal( more often recommended by Super Models and hair dressers than doctors). Glucosamine and chondroitin are also on my daily list and she acknowledges that they may help some who have joint inflammation issues. I also pop a Lactaid tablet with my morning yogurt and any other dairy as I am lactose intolerant.

Then I threw her a curveball: What does she think of SeroVital? I explained that it is an HGH (human growth hormone) in capsule form, advertised provocatively as the Youth Hormone, purported to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass, boost mood and sex drive, give you energy and positively impact wrinkles and saggy skin. “HGH injections have shown to do all those things,” she said. But she didn’t know if taken in capsule form, I could expect the same results. However, a friend who has been taking it for over year reported,

“ One of the first things that I noticed was that I no longer had arthritic pain in my hand and the swelling that came with it had miraculously disappeared. I believe there is a ‘huge’ difference in the elasticity of my skin. My energy level seems to have increased immensely.”

I am on month two of my own SeroVital trial and will report back in six months. If it’s truly the fountain of youth, you’ll be the first to know!

If you follow the overly enthusiastic Dr. Oz, you might be wondering if the supplements he pushes for weight loss, specifically, really work. Green Coffee? Luralean? Garcinia cambogia? Raspberry ketones? Tried them all with no noticeable decrease in weight. Please, like Congress, take his recommendations with a grain, or three, of salt.

Drinks your greens!

Drinks your greens!

However, the other celebrity weight loss/anti-aging guru, Suzanne Somers, suggests that more prosaic supplements complement a comprehensive weight loss program (including the same healthy eating, exercise and sleep touted by my own MD):

  • Omega 3 for heart and brain health, and weight loss
  • CoQ10 which helps burn fats and carbs more efficiently
  • Green tea  an antioxidant loaded with polyphenols which boost metabolic rate and reduce hunger
  • Carnitine which helps break down fat to create energy
  • Lipoic acid which stabilizes blood sugar

Two more  non pill fat melters for the road:

1. A Danish study found that a diet that included 20% of its calories from MUFAs , a fat found in olive oil nuts, seeds, avocados, peanut butter and chocolate, improved 24 hour calorie burning and fat burning. Other studies found that MUFAs target belly fat!

2. CLA or conjugated linoleic acid is a potent fat burner, especially in muscles, and found in dairy products.

If assembling this array of pills and capsules seems overwhelming, there are companies including Nu Skin, sold by my friend Wendy, which package supplements in little user friendly packets, especially efficient for women on the go or when traveling. Research online to find pre- packaged supplements with the perfect combination of compounds for you.

Just be sure to wash them down with green tea!

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