Characteristics that allow a supplement to be included in this group include: near universal benefit, the ability to partly mitigate nutrient deficient diets and regular chemical exposures, and (since these would theoretically be universally applied) very good safety profiles. Of course man cannot survive on supplements alone, and I’ll be the first to say that supplements are no substitution for great nutrition. But with that said, here is my list of nutrients that, could they be added to our water, would help save mankind!
Curcumin: That’s right, good old turmeric. It’s both a staple of Indian curries and one of the best natural anti-inflammatory compounds known. Inflammation is needed and useful in the body when for example the immune system if fighting off an infection or when you’ve sprained your ankle. But chronic, unchecked inflammation is part of most chronic disease. A poor diet can also be a good source of inflammation, so add turmeric to your anti-inflammatory diet.
Vitamin D: Here in the NorthWest, I assume that anyone I see between October and June who isn’t taking D is D deficient. But vitamin D deficiency isn’t limited to our neck of the world. These days, most people spend the majority of their time indoors, behind glass (which blocks UV), or use sunblock when they do go outside (rightly to prevent skin cancer, which is also a concern of course). But getting enough sun helps make vitamin D, which helps drive calcium into our bones, is a powerful antioxidant, and has many hormone like functions. It contributes to everything from cancer and heart disease prevention, to improved mood, to immune regulation. Hmm, maybe we just need more time outside…?
Probiotics: As the Align commercial has now made common parlance, probiotics are benefical bacteria which each of us have on and in us. While this fact makes many people squeamish, healthy bacteria in and on our bodies outnumber our own cells by 10 times. But we’re more than an incubator – we’re symbiotic. And when our bodies are regularly supplied with good bugs and these bugs are in balance, they provide a multitude of health benefits: improved digestion, production of vitamins, immune regulation, prevention of allergies and autoimmune disease, heart disease prevention, infection prevention and (for your friends and family) decreased intestinal gas. For that reason alone, it should be mandatory!
Vitamin C: Hopefully this one is not surprising - we could all use some extra C. Do you know that primates, guinea pigs, and fruit eating bats are the only animals that don’t produce our own vitamin C? That means we humans need to eat it to use it. And since Vitamin C is essentially “used up” after it soaks up free radicals (i.e. does it’s antioxidant thing), we need a continual supply.
Sulforaphane: This supplement will likely never truly take off because it’s name is too difficult to pronounce. But that’s a shame, because this broccoli seed extract may be one of the most powerful supplements available. While vitamin C’s lights go out (so to speak) when it gets used up as an antioxidant, Sulforaphanes antioxidant action works on the genetic level. This means it actually turns on genes that produce antioxidants which function for 2-3 days! Holy helping! And as if that wasn’t enough, these sulfur based chemicals aid with one of the 3 main forms of detoxification in the liver! To be fair, like turmeric these sulforaphanes are also present to some degree in all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, etc) but the supplemental amounts are much, much greater.
CoQ10: Although it is expensive to produce (and therefore buy), it is present in every one of our cells and part of making ATP or “energy”. But in addition to allowing us to stand and move, CoQ10 powers our cells, provides the energy to make chemical processes happen, and is an amazing antioxidant too! And to the countless number of people on statins now (the highest selling drug in the world, ugh) CoQ10 supplementation is necessary because the enzyme that statins inhibit produces both cholesterol and CoQ10. Limit one, and you limit them both. (Not that cholesterol is universally bad, but that is another topic.)
NAC: Another supplement without the most publicity worthy name, N-acetyl Cysteine is an amazing supplement and one I personally take regularly. Why? Because this form of the amino acid cysteine is the principle raw material for glutathione, and glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant in our body. Want to prevent alzheimers, be more resistant to smog, and live till 100? Take NAC.
Methyl Folate (MF): This is my most recent addition to the list, because before this year I didn’t know much about it. But the more I (and others) learn, the more amazing it is. MF (yes, ha ha) is really the active form of folic acid, and one of the main nutrients involved in a reaction called methylation. While methylation is a rather complicated biochemical process, it essentially produces something (a methyl groups) which acts as a switch to turn enzymes on or off for little things like detoxification, making neurotransmitters (mood regulators), breaking down hormones, making antioxidants, and even the silencing and protecting genes in our DNA (those we want to stay quiet). And while folic acid deficiency is rare in the US, many people have a genetic mutation called MTHFR that limits their ability to produce methylfolate, and modern research has found synthetic folic acid antibodies in the brain. Yet another reason to eat your greens.
Fish oil: Does anyone not know fish oil is amazing? If not, see Google.
Positivity: As many of us have learned from Masuro Emoto’s and others work, positive intention has definitive physical outcomes. The many forms of this nutrient include nourishment, healing, purifying, and even love. Even scientific studies are showing how sometimes our perspective of an event is more important than the event itself. And why not? Envision your food nourishing you, your immune system protecting you, and the water you drink as purifying you. Perhaps positivity is the most important “nutrient” of all.