Vitamins, Supplements, Prebiotics, and Probiotics for Balanced Health
Is it a coincidence that vitamins and probiotics have a synergistic approach to good health? In Latin, the word “vita” means life. Biotic means the condition of living things or simply put, life. When we take vitamins, probiotics, supplements, and prebiotics, our bodies become healthy and active.
Using Supplements as a Part of a Treatment Plan
Vitamins are essential nutrients that help us recover from injuries and protect us from diseases. We typically get vitamins from the food we eat. What we don’t get from our regular diet, we can obtain from vitamin supplements. Medical science has proven the benefits of vitamins and supplements by incorporating them in our prescribed medical treatment plans for various illnesses and conditions.
Probiotics are bacteria that are beneficial to digestive, oral, and skin health. Besides breaking down food, gut bacteria improve serotonin, insulin, leptin, and dopamine production. In turn, probiotics lead to positive changes in our moods and energy levels. Prebiotics are nutrients that nurture the growth of pre-existing probiotics. Are prebiotics good for you? Yes. Without prebiotics like inulin or oligosaccharides, good bacteria would not exist. Prebiotics can generate a feeling of fullness, which can help people looking to lose weight.
Incorporating prebiotics and probiotics into your diet help maintain your internal balance. While you can get both from regular types of food such as vegetables and yogurt, you can always give supplements a try. Supplements are normally recommended to patients with chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or colitis.
A physician will typically draw up a treatment plan during the consultation with their patient. Such a project will entail medication, vitamins, supplements, probiotics, prebiotics, alternative medicines, and therapies to alleviate the condition. For the plan to work effectively, teamwork between the patient and the medical team is paramount. It’s essential to execute each step in creating a treatment plan. Below are the general steps entailed:
Formulating a plan: Write down the questions you need to ask your physician. Be specific about what is or is not important to you. Provide the team with any journals, lists, or observations you’ve made about your condition.
Communicate and exchange information: Provide your team with a detailed description of your day to day response to the plan. Remember to include your problems and concerns in your notes. Doing so may help your physician decide on further tests or diagnosis. It is also crucial to inform the team of your personal values, cultural preferences, and limitations.
Participate: Ask questions. Be sure that you understand all the pros and cons of the diagnosis and the potential treatment. Specify what you may need while undergoing treatment. Have all risks and possible outcomes clarified. Inform the team of relevant medical history.
To agree or disagree: You should ensure that you review the plan thoroughly before making your decision. Do not agree to the project if you feel that there are unanswered questions or gaps. Make sure that the goals are stipulated.
Progress: Ensure to include a methodology to track progress and changes. It should consist of sections listing each objective and the resulting outcome.
Working With Your Doctor to Find the Right Vitamins for You
A medical care team can take weeks and months to discover the combination of vitamins and supplements appropriate for the patient and the illness. In addition to records kept by the care team, a patient should also keep a diary or log. The treatment plan will change as you try out different treatment combinations. It is fair to assume that vitamins, supplements, probiotics, and prebiotics will affect each person differently. Current treatments incorporating vitamins and scientific studies have shown that they have positive effects, although individual cases will vary.
But what is vitamin good for? Vitamins are great for minimizing symptoms like pain, inflammation or fatigue, lessening or preventing damage to other organs and systems, strengthening the body’s overall immune system, increasing energy and vitality, improving sleep and mood, and enhancing the efficiency of various body systems.
Vitamins for inflammation
A fever and swollen glands are just two signs of your body’s inflammatory response to infection, toxic chemicals, or intense stress. Your body reacts by producing higher levels of C-reactive proteins (CRP) than usual. Chronic inflammation and elevated CRP levels can trigger other serious diseases. Taking vitamins B6, B9 (folate), B12, and C can significantly lower your CRP levels. Vitamin D, on the other hand, can lessen the pain caused by inflammation.
Vitamins for endocrine issues
The human endocrine system produces hormones that control growth, sleep, metabolism, reproduction, and mood. Endocrine issues include insomnia, depression, anxiety, alopecia, and decreased libido. Vitamin A improves hormone synthesis. Patients suffering from thyroid dysfunction require Vitamin A to avoid worsening their conditions. Vitamin B12 is crucial for cellular metabolism, hormone production, and energy generation. Without Vitamin B12, you will experience hormonal imbalances, leading to confusion and fatigue.
Vitamins for musculoskeletal
The musculoskeletal system includes bones, cartilages, ligaments, and all connective tissue. It supports and stabilizes the body and enables movement. Vitamin C protects the system from oxidative stress caused by increased exertion. It also helps in forming bones and increasing bone density. Vitamin D improves the absorption of two essential minerals - calcium and phosphorus, which affect bone strength, bone loss, and dental health.
Vitamins for musculoskeletal issues
Issues affecting the musculoskeletal system include rickets, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and arthritis. Arthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, the material that reduces friction between bones. Vitamin D is invaluable for treating the soft bone issues caused by rickets. It improves absorption and maintains adequate levels of calcium critical for treating osteoporosis and osteomalacia. Vitamin K activates the matrix Gla protein, which is present in bone, cartilage, and muscle.
Vitamins for musculoskeletal trauma
Musculoskeletal trauma can result from repetitive use of a joint, a sports injury, or an accident. Vitamin A assists in the formation of collagen in the bones and joints. Vitamin C ensures strong and properly-formed collagen fibers. It can accelerate the healing of bone fractures, tendons, and connective tissues. Vitamin D enhances recovery strength, especially with bone-related injuries or surgeries.
Vitamins for headaches
While vitamins cannot relieve the immediate effects of a headache, studies have indicated a link between headaches and vitamin deficiencies. Taking supplements or consuming foods rich in vitamin B2 (riboflavin) can improve overall energy and reduce migraines’ frequency. Vitamin D can decrease the frequency of headaches, while Vitamin B9 (folic acid or folate) and Coenzyme Q10 can help reduce the incidents of migraine episodes.
Vitamins for toxins
Our livers remove toxins from our bloodstreams. The lymphatic system clears toxins from cells and tissues. When detoxing, it is crucial to consume vitamins A, C, E, B1, and B6 to support the liver and lymphatic functions. Vitamins B1, B3, B5, and B12 accelerate blood cell production, fight depression and anxiety, and improve mental alertness. Vitamin C and E help the immune system recover.
Vitamins for weight loss
Lifestyle changes and efficient metabolic function are necessary for weight loss and maintenance. Our bodies require vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12 to convert proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into energy. Low levels of these vitamins are not beneficial to individuals on a weight loss program. Vitamin D deficiency is often linked to obesity and weak fatty muscles.
Vitamins for cognitive function
Vitamin C affects the correct formation and maintenance of myelin sheaths, which protect the nerve cells that carry electrical signals in the brain. As a natural antioxidant, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can improve memory and concentration. Antioxidants like vitamin C and E counteract free radicals that affect cognitive decline. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) reduces fatigue, combats anxiety, and helps with mental clarity. Vitamin B12 improves nerve function and may influence age-related degeneration.
Vitamins for heart health
Vitamin B3 can reduce cholesterol levels, which, in turn, affects the occurrence of heart disease. Vitamin B2 prevents plaque build-up. Generally, the B vitamins, but primarily vitamin B9, control homocysteine, a type of amino acid. At elevated levels, homocysteine heightens the risk for blood clots, strokes, and arterial hardening. Vitamin K2 supports calcium levels, which are beneficial to the cardiovascular system because it lowers the risk of strokes. Vitamins B9, C, and D may have a slight effect in reducing blood pressure in hypertensive individuals.
Vitamins for preventative care
Antioxidants like vitamins A and E encourage cell and tissue growth. In addition, these two vitamins also protect our skin from premature aging. Vitamin B2 can minimize dry skin and acne, while Vitamin B3 brightens dull skin, encourages hair growth, and strengthens nails. Vitamin D helps the entire body by improving the absorption of minerals and vitamins. Vitamin B7 has anti-aging properties and can be used to treat eczema, rashes, and dermatitis.
Vitamins, Supplements, Prebiotics, and Probiotics for Daily Life
A balanced diet can provide adequate nutrients every day. However, there are instances where adding vitamins, supplements, prebiotics, and probiotics are needed to support general good health to avoid deficiencies and boost the body’s performance. Such situations include:
Pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Senior citizens with age-related conditions
People with food-related conditions like allergies, celiac disease, or colitis
People with deficiencies due to genetics
People with nutritional deficits due to chronic conditions
Vegans or vegetarians who need alternative sources of vitamins
People with strict or specific diets
Women who are postmenopausal or have heavy periods
People who are experiencing high levels of stress
Individuals taking medication that interfere with body chemistry
Hormonal imbalances and deficiencies in vitamins and other nutrients make our bodies inefficient. A weak body has no defense against premature aging, disease, stress, and injury. It’s like expecting an optimum performance from an engine without fuel: it’s simply impossible and unadvisable.
When experiencing periods of extreme stress, inactivity, and insomnia, it’s often not easy to eat or exercise properly. You may feel fatigued, have low concentration, and experience digestive upset. Having a daily regimen of vitamins, supplements, probiotics, and prebiotics can help you weather such rough times. The regimen will provide you with enough essential elements to keep your body moving and operating as usual.
Healthier Living through Balancing Vitamins, Exercise, and Doctor’s Advice
Some vitamins and dietary supplements are widely recognized as valid components of medical treatment. Folic acid reduces the risk of fetal and congenital disabilities. Calcium and vitamin D are highly recommended for bone health maintenance. It is easier for our bodies to absorb Vitamin B9 (folate) in supplement form than directly from food. Taking vitamin C and zinc together can reduce the severity and duration of the common cold. Iron supplements are great for treating anemia. Combining high doses of vitamins C and E, zinc, beta-carotene, and copper can slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Before taking any kind of supplement, or putting a treatment plan together, you should first consult your physician. They can help you establish an excellent nutritional balance between food, supplements, and exercise.
You should answer these questions before taking any supplement:
What are the pros and cons?
What is the correct dosage?
Are there potential side effects?
Are there supplements that should not be taken together?
What prescribed medicines have adverse effects when taken together with vitamins and supplements?
For how long and how often should supplements be taken?
Are they from a reliable and safe source?
Vitamins, supplements, prebiotics, and probiotics are not instant cures, but they do offer a variety of benefits to our health. The human body is dependent on specific nutrients. For example, vitamin K is required to make the prothrombin protein and regulate the clotting function. If you have low amounts of this vitamin, typical cuts and punctures can become a nuisance since they will not close. Adequate levels of vitamin K ensures proper clotting and anti-clotting. Existing gut bacteria aid digestion, improve nutrient absorption, and help the immune system eliminate harmful bacteria.
A healthy body is the result of choices, both big and small. You can achieve wellness by being mindful of your body’s needs, having a holistic plan for improvement, and staying active. Eliminating deficiencies and improving nutrition leads to a better life. The approach you take can make all the difference.
Dr. Freund and Katie Moxley, RD have undergone extensive post-graduate training in Nutrition.
To contact us, call 847-265-0600 or visit our request an appointment page to schedule an appointment.