The Six Best Supplements You're Not Taking
Saw palmetto, glucosamine, co-enzyme Q10 these are the Brad and Jen and Angelina of the natural health world, adored by millions, hounded by the press, and nearly ubiquitous. But for every supplement that makes it big, there are others waiting in the wings that are just as talented and worthy of attention. We turned some of the country's top experts into our talent scouts, getting a sneak peek at the products they're recommending to their patients or using themselves. Heres their hot list of six impressive performers that may help you prevent disease and maintain a healthy, energetic lifestyle. You'll give two thumbs-up to all six of these rising stars.
POWER BENEFIT Essential for proper immune function; may reduce the risk of certain cancers; helps rid the body of free radicals.
THE SCIENCE While some people have already crossed paths with selenium, few know how critical it is to overall health, or how agricultural and processing practices degrade food sources of this essential trace mineral. A powerful antioxidant, selenium works especially well with vitamin E to fight damaging free radicals. Its vital for the immune system, boosting the body's defenses against bacteria and viruses, and it may reduce cancer risk, particularly in the prostate, colon, and lungs. The National Cancer Institute is currently sponsoring a study on whether supplementing with selenium and vitamin E can help prevent or delay prostate cancer.
Selenium is found in meat, wheat germ, nuts (particularly Brazil nuts), eggs, oats, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice. But modern farming practices have depleted the soil, so many people don't get sufficient selenium from their diets anymore, says Tanya Edwards, M.D., medical director for the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Refining and processing also reduce selenium levels, which is why eating whole, unprocessed, organic food is the best way to obtain the nutrient.
Since this isn't always possible, Edwards recommends supplementing with selenium, which can be found by itself or in multivitamins. Taking selenium is particularly recommended for people with certain digestive conditions, such as Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis.
HOW TO TAKE IT 200 micrograms per day, in combination with vitamin E for best results. Since vitamin C can interfere with the absorption of selenium, take them at separate times.
CAVEATS Over time, high doses (over 900 mcg per day) may lead to depression, nervousness, vomiting, and nausea.
HORMONE BALANCER --CHASTEBERRY (VITEX AGNUS CASTUS)
POWER BENEFIT Relieves symptoms of PMS and peri-menopause and may be helpful for some kinds of infertility.
THE SCIENCE A shrub in the verbena family, chasteberry bears a fruit that has been used medicinally for centuries. As the name suggests, it was once thought to dampen sexual desire; its also called monks pepper, since brothers in orders reportedly chewed the dried berries to decrease libido. Contemporary studies have found that the herb can help regulate hormones, and it has become a standard European treatment for premenstrual syndromeits especially effective in helping decrease symptoms of cyclic breast tenderness and fibrocystic breast disease.