By Dan DeFigio, Basics and Beyond fitness & nutrition
The chemical process of oxidation is one of the most common means of decay on this planet. It is what makes meat go bad, nails rust, and apples turn brown. Inside your body, oxidation takes its toll in the form of things like suppressed immune systems, cataracts, and even heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. We are exposed to a much higher concentration of free radicals (the chemical renegades that cause oxidation) than we were 20 years ago due to ozone depletion, pesticides, pollution, and food processing. Exercise also produces a hefty amount of free radical damage in the body. Taking daily anti-oxidant supplements can minimize oxidative damage in your body. Some of the major antioxidant nutrients with suggested dosages are listed below:
Phytonutrients: These are plant-based compounds that improve immune system response, aid digestion, and help to maintain proper acid/alkaline balance. There are literally thousands of these phytochemicals, and they cannot be manufactured — you have to eat your veggies! We often recommend that folks use a powdered green drink to increase the amount of phytonutrients in their diets. A good green drink should include lots of different plants. Two fantastic products are Univera’s Metagreens and Dr. Ben Kim’s Super Green Food.
Vitamin C: 1000-2000mg in divided doses throughout the day – big doses can upset your stomach if you’re not used to them. Your vitamin C supplement should have rose hips or acerola cherry to add bioflavanoids like tyrosinase, rutin, factors P and J, etc. that make vitamin C much more effective.
Vitamin E: 200-800 IU per day. Look for mixed tocopherols.
Zinc: 30 extra mg per day. Zinc oxide and zinc sulfate are cheap forms – look for zinc picolinate, zinc aspartate, or zinc ascorbate.
Selenium: 200-400 mcg daily. Use the L-selenomethionine form. Daily doses higher than 800 mcg can build up to toxic levels, so be sure to include the amounts in your multi-vitamins when determining your daily dose.
Coenzyme Q10: 60-200 mg per day. Older patients may want to take more, as the body’s ability to make CoQ10 declines with age. Use of statin drugs (popular cholesterol medications) shut off the body’s natural production of CoQ10, so it is especially important to supplement with CoQ10 if you use these medications.
Glutamine: L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue, and your immune system uses gobs of it when your body is under stress. Supplement with one or two grams of ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG) or L-glutamine powder two or three times a day.
N-acetyl cysteine and L-methionine: These are two amino acids that help to protect the organs and detoxify harmful substances. They can be especially important because they protect the body’s stores of glutathione, which is one of your body’s major endogenous antioxidants. These two amino acids are often packaged together, so use n-acetyl cysteine as your dosage guide: 50 to 350 mg daily.
I would like to emphasize the importance of buying your supplements from established, reputable companies. Nutrition supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so any fly-by-night company can put anything it wants in a bottle. We only recommend and sell products with proven track records of consistent product quality and labeling integrity. If you have questions about the reliability of a particular brand, the Colgan Institute and ConsumerLab.com are superb sources of information. They have been testing nutrition supplements off the shelves throughout America for years. They do not accept money from any manufacturers, and receive no grants of any kind for their work. Their evaluations are not for sale.
Pills are not the end-all in nutrition! There are thousands of chemicals and combinations of different nutrients that are found in vegetables and fruits that we are just beginning to understand. Eat a variety of organic vegetables and fruits every day, preferably locally grown. The phytochemicals in plants form the foundation for protection against disease. A diet based on vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins is more important than supplemental vitamins and minerals. By combining the two, you are well on your way to maintaining a healthy immune system and minimizing potentially deadly oxidative damage.