The Healthy Way for Life: Complete Your Breakfast Routine
Sunday, October 11, 2009
LifeTime WeightLoss in Breakfast, Supplements, Tom Nikkola, vitamins

Written by Tom Nikkola - Director of Nutrition & Weight Management

Last week we talked about the importance of a good breakfast. Plenty of protein and the right amount of carbohydrates can set you up for a more productive, higher-energy, less-hungry day. If this was new to you, hopefully you felt a difference this past week. Before moving away from breakfast, there's one more thing to add to your morning meal to make it complete - multivitamins and fish oil. No matter how well we try to eat the right foods on a daily basis, it's virtually impossible to get in optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Active individuals, as well as those faced with above average levels of stress also tend to use more vitamins and minerals.

Covering the benefits of each of these would take up far too much space than is available here. Instead, we'll just take a look at how to make their daily use more a part of your lifestyle. Studies show that between 50-70% of the population say they use a multivitamin. Of course, there is a difference between having multivitamins in the cupboard, and using them on a daily basis. The benefits of these supplements come from regular, long-term use, so making them a habit will be this week's challenge.

Quality Counts

As with most other things, you do get what you pay for when it comes to nutritional supplements. In the case of multivitamins, providing a more optimal formula, which uses mostly-natural forms of vitamins, proper dosages of minerals and includes additional, beneficial herbs, costs far more than a mostly-synthetic multivitamin that just meets RDI/RDA numbers. Much of the current research showing the benefits of vitamins and minerals, such as with vitamin D, comes from the use of these vitamins above RDI levels. That doesn't mean people should get as much as they can of all of the vitamins and minerals, but it does mean that there are some vitamins and minerals where you may benefit from taking extra amounts. A high-quality multivitamin will be formulated in a way to ensure you're receiving optimal amounts of most micronutrients, while not risking overconsumption. Calcium and magnesium take up a significant amount of space, so they are not normally found in a multivitamin in high doses. With these two minerals, you'll probably need to take an additional tablet to meet your daily needs.

In the case of omega-3 fish oil, you can find large variety of qualities and prices as well. Like multivitamins, fish oil can come from various sources. Ideally, fish oil should be sourced from small fish, in the cold, deep waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and Norwegian Sea. These oils provide the highest quality, as opposed to the oil from "farmed" fish. The concentration of EPA and DHA should be over 50% of the oil, which means if the fish oil contains one gram of total fat, the total of EPA and DHA should be at least 500 mg.

For proper absorption, it's important to take your multis and fish oil with food. That's why we started with breakfast as the first habit last week. If you don't eat a complete breakfast, the vitamins and minerals may not be optimally absorbed. They can also leave you feeling nauseous.

Feeling a Difference

Taking your multis and fish oil does not provide an immediate feeling or response, which makes adherence more challenging. Some people may mention a difference in energy levels from taking their multis in the morning, or improved sleep from their evening multivitamins. It is certainly possible that the supplement can have such an effect, especially if someone lacks some of the nutrients in their daily diet that the supplement is providing. B-Vitamins are important for energy, some minerals are important for rest and recovery. However, it can also be attributed to a placebo effect. Some people claim they have more clarity when they being using omega-3 fish oil. There is significant amounts of research on omega-3 and brain function, so this is possible as well, although there have been major research reports done on this aspect of omega-3 benefits.

Making it a Habit

So if most people won't feel considerably different from taking a multivitamin and fish oil, how can adherence become better? For the most part, it comes through education. As you understand more and more how important the various vitamins, minerals, and some herbs are in a healthy metabolism, longevity, and daily recovery from stress and exercise, you begin to understand the importance making this a daily habit. As you understand the importance of making this a daily habit, it will become easier to remember when you should be taking your supplements.

It's ideal to take the multivitamins and fish oil a couple of different times during the day, especially if they some in a morning and evening formula. As mentioned above, some vitamins can support energy production, so a higher concentration of these in the morning would be more appropriate, whereas a higher concentration of the "rest and recovery" minerals should be included in the dose later in the day. In the case of omega-3 fish oil, it's not a requirement to split up the doses. However, taking four or more fish oil capsules at one time can lead to more of a fishy taste, so splitting them up with your multivitamin intake would be wise.

This week's challenge of making your multivitamins and fish oil a habit might already be part of your day. For others, you make an attempt, but end up forgetting a couple of times per week. Everyone seems to have their morning and evening rituals, such as when they brush their teeth, when they eat, etc. The key is to make your mulitvitamin and fish oil as much a part of your day as these other habits.

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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