vitamins_web.jpgSTATEPOINT — If you eat a healthful diet, you may think you’re in the clear when it comes to supplying your body with vital nutrients. But some experts say that even the most well-rounded meal plans fall short. “To get the amount of nutrients you need to thrive, you can’t rely on food alone. You really have to turn to dietary supplements,” says Dr. Michael A. Smith, host of “Healthy Talk” on and senior health scientist with Life Extension in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

If you’ve ever walked through the supplement section of a natural foods store or done a quick search online, you know it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the choices. Making matters more confusing, everyone has different nutritional needs.

“With the exception of a few foundational nutrients, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all supplement regimen,” says Smith, whose new book and educational tool, The Supplement Pyramid, seeks to help readers design a nutritional regimen that meets their unique needs. “Like food, it’s helpful to think of your supplement needs in a tiered pyramid structure: the foundational supplements we all need, personalized supplements based on your needs and optimal supplements for living healthier, longer.”

Smith is offering guidelines for getting started:
• Bootleg products on the market can do more harm than good. Invest in high-quality nutritional supplements. Stick with a company that has an established track record of using only pure, potent raw materials.
• There are essential foundational supplements that should build the base of most people’s plans, no matter what their unique needs are, Smith says. These include an ideally dosed multivitamin/mineral, omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10 (as ubiquinol) and probiotics. Check with your doctor before starting a supplement regimen.
• Everybody has their own personal medical history and health needs. With do-it-yourself detective work, you can arm yourself with the facts you need to personalize your supplement plan for disease prevention.
Beyond taking a personal and family medical inventory, certain laboratory tests can help you discover what’s going on inside your body. Additionally, The Supplement Pyramid contains a series of medical quizzes based on clinical risk assessments in different areas including heart health, cognitive function and immune strength.
• After providing your body with core, foundational nutrients for survival and custom-tailored supplements to help prevent disease, consider optimizing your supplemental regimen with “anti-aging supplements” such as antioxidants, proteins and amino acids. These supplements form the top of your pyramid, and if you need to cut back on expenses, should be the first to go.
Getting started is simple. And the sooner you do, the faster you can begin properly nourishing and protecting your body from health risks.

Even if you juice every morning and hit the salad bar at lunch every afternoon, don’t be lulled into nutritional complacency. By learning more about your body’s needs, you can live a longer, healthier, happier life.