WAC Magazine

September 2013

Issue link: http://www.wacmagazine.com/i/160497

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Page 22 of 67

" Learning the ins and outs of which supplements to take—or not take—is a complex undertaking." bone mineral density, as well as an excess of calcium in the arterial wall. Look for vitamin K-2 in your bonebuilding formula. Natural vs. syNthetic Another nutrient where quality really matters is vitamin E. Most vitamin E products on the market contain synthetic vitamin E—not natural vitamin E. On a supplement label, natural vitamin E is listed as either d-alpha tocopherol, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate, or d-alpha tocopheryl succinate. In contrast, synthetic forms of vitamin E are labeled with a "dl-" prefix. This difference is very important to look for when examining the vitamin E in your products. If the vitamin E is listed as dl-tocopherol, you know it's synthetic. Synthetic vitamin E is poorly absorbed and assimilated in the body. In fact, natural vitamin E has more than twice the absorption rate as synthetic. Absorption doesn't stop at blood levels. Remember, nutrients work inside the cells, so although someone may have adequate levels of certain nutrients in their blood, it doesn't necessarily mean that those nutrients are getting into and working at the cell level. This is where natural trumps synthetic. For example, specific proteins produced in the liver select the natural d-alpha form of vitamin E and largely ignore synthetic vitamin E. And it doesn't stop there. It's very important that all forms of vitamin E be supplemented together. Alphatocopherol is just one of the four different vitamin E's. There is also: beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol. All four forms of vitamin E are found in food and used by the body. The primary reason there have been some negative reports about vitamin E during the last several years is because these studies did not supplement with all four forms of vitamin E. When supplementing, it's very important to supplement with all forms the body uses. That is how nutrients are found in food and then recognized by the body. A quality vitamin E supplement not only contains natural d-alpha tocopherol, but it also contains the beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol forms. Lastly, the ratios of the various isomers will reflect those found in food. It's gamma-tocopherol, not alpha, that represents about 70 percent of vitamin E consumed in the typical U.S. diet. Thus, a good vitamin E product will have more gammatocopherol than alpha-tocopherol. form of the nutrient. Folate is the natural form. Folate is found in foods such as dark leafy greens, fruits, liver, eggs, and beans. Human exposure to the synthetic folic acid was non-existent until its chemical synthesis in the 1940s. Its widespread use in food fortification began in 1998. Folic acid is the most commonly used form in dietary supplements because of its long shelf life and low cost. The body, however, does not actually use folic acid. Instead, folic acid must be converted through enzymatic processes into various metabolites the body then uses. The most important metabolite is L-5 methyltetrahydrofolate, or L-5 MTHF. This "activated" form of folate is involved in many processes in the body, including the reduction of homocysteine, the detoxification of toxins, and the production of many neurotransmitters. Maintenance of healthy moods and cognitive function are greatly dependent on the body obtaining L-5 MTHF. Yet, there is a common but little known genetic defect that reduces the body's enzyme capacity to produce L-5 MTHF from synthetic folic acid. It's estimated that this genetic defect is present in up to 30 percent of the U.S. population. Because this genetic defect isn't commonly tested for, most individuals don't know they have it. For them, taking a natural folate supplement is very important, as their body has limited capability to enzymatically convert synthetic folic acid into L-5 MTHF. (For more information on this genetic defect, see the January 2013 Wellness article at wacmagazine.com/i/101127/30). WAC Nutritionist Shana As you can see, learning the ins and outs of which supplements to take—or not take— Hopkins can be reached at 206.839.4782 or is a complex undertaking. Working with a practitioner who has had extensive training in shopkins@wac.net nutrition can help you put together a personalized and effective program. choose Natural Using a natural form verses a synthetic form is also extremely important when it comes to certain vitamins. For example, vitamin B-9 is also known as folic acid, which is the synthetic Choosing the best products: The WAC Wellness Center offers high-quality nutritional supplementation products for members. We carefully select only the best products. Stop by the nutrition office to see how we can help you. SEPTEMBER 2013 | Washington Athletic Club Magazine | 23

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