Several clients have asked me what I think about taking nutritional supplements, and what types I take. Some of their questions: Are some brands better than others? What’s a good multivitamin? Are they safe? Do they really help? Do you sell any brands? To be sure, the scientific evidence is confusing as it seems to circle back on itself. Just this past January the Mayo clinic asked “Is it true that most vitamin supplements actually do more harm than good?” in a syndicated column in the Chicago Tribune. “Don’t Take Your Vitamins” warned the Op Ed in the New York Times in June. In October 2012, a headline in the New York Times read: Multivitamin Use Linked to Lowered Cancer Risk.” Confused? Me too. Personally, I take a multivitamin for cheap insurance, and the brand I buy from Trader Joe’s costs me about five dollars a month. It’s formulated at about 100% of the Daily Value for vitamins and minerals, and I consider it to be a cost-effective way of filling in the gaps that may exist between what I need and what I actually consume. Most research generally agrees that most of us (older than 55) do not get enough of the vitamins B12 and D, so I do take extra-2,000 IU’s of D and 1000 mcg of B12. Your individual needs may differ because of lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, pregnancy, and certain diseases and medications may influence how much of certain nutrients are absorbed. For instance, prednisone, an immunosuppressant, depletes the body of selenium. Statins, such as crestor, lipitor (to lower cholesterol) deplete the body of CoQ10, an important nutrient for heart function. Check with your doctor. With that being said, scientists took a close look at 740 women in the landmark Nurse’s Health Study between 2000 and 2012, half who developed type 2 diabetes and half who did not. Blood samples revealed that the 370 women who remained diabetes-free had markedly higher levels of melatonin, leading researches to conclude that low nighttime levels of melatonin nearly doubles the risk of developing diabetes. In addition to regulating your body’s clock and improving sleep, melatonin is a potent antioxidant. Studies show it protects against cancer, helps prevent migraines, and eases symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Several years ago I tried melatonin for sleep but noticed no apparent benefit. However, with this new information on its benefits, I’m going to give it another try. The recommended dose is 1-6 mg, 30 minutes before bedtime.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.