Great Smokies Medical Center of Asheville

If You Were Stuck on a Remote Island

Q: Drs. Wilson and Wright recently put their heads together to answer this question: Excluding a multiple vitamin/mineral formula, what five supplements would you choose to have with you (and why) if you practiced on a remote island?

A: First, Vitamin C. Unlike nearly every other mammal, fruit bats, guinea pigs, and human beings have lost their ability to make vitamin C due to the lack of the enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase. In fact, any pamphlet on caring for guinea pigs comes with precautions to include Vitamin C in their diet to keep them healthy. Unfortunately, people don’t come with such pamphlets to guide their care and feeding. Vitamin C has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties, and assists mercury detox. In high doses, Vitamin C has anti-viral and anti-cancer properties. It helps prevent platelets from sticking together, making clot formation less likely. Vitamin C is inexpensive and can be taken orally or intravenously. It also is supplied in a liposomal base that can be given topically to dramatically help skin conditions ranging from burns to conditions of aging to mysterious rashes.
Second, magnesium. More than 300 of the body’s enzyme systems require magnesium. Add the fact that 85 percent of the population is estimated to be deficient in magnesium and you have one effective and useful therapy: magnesium replacement. Magnesium regulates muscle response, heart rate and rhythm, bone formation, bowel function, helps prevent kidney stones, and protects against radiation exposure. Dr. Wilson earned the title "Dr. Magnesium" when he regularly administered magnesium intravenously for asthma, PMS, high blood pressure, headaches, heart failure, etc., when he started practicing at GSMC in 1991.
Third, Vitamin B12. People with deficiency of hydrochloric acid (HCl) produced by the stomach are more likely to be deficient in B12. The use of prescription drugs that block HCl production in patients with reflux or heartburn can result in deficient B12 levels, as can long term vegan diets, and aging. These facts give this special B vitamin a place in our docs’ top five list. Though the biggest impact is obtained through giving vitamin B-12 by injection, our testing reveals that oral or sublingual forms of B-12 can also correct less severe deficiencies, though they do so more slowly. Deficiencies of vitamin B-12 result in fatigue, anemia, asthma, menstrual problems, heart disease, diabetic neuropathy, hives, bursitis, poor memory, confusion, and various neurological problems. Many people report an energy boost from B-12 injections.
Fourth, EPA and DHA fish oil: Our docs find that a day does not go by that they don’t recommend the use of these important oils. Eicosapentacoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are found in oilier fish (salmon, herring, and mackerel) or can be supplemented in capsule form. Fish oil fights heart disease three ways: preventing clots, improving lipids, and decreasing formation of atherosclerotic plaque in arteries. Other conditions that benefit from fish oil include retinal problems, ADD/ADHD (the brain is 60% fat), autoimmune disorders, inflammatory conditions (notably arthritis), and cancer (in particular breast, prostate, and colon). High quality fish oils such as those recommended by GSMC doctors are tested by independent third party labs to assure they are free from oceanic environmental toxins, notably mercury.
Fifth, Co-Enzyme Q10. If you were a carburetor, CoQ10 would be your spark plug. CoQ10 provides a spark of energy that facilitates oxygen transport to cells. CoQ10 is used to address problems associated with aging, including memory problems, and all sorts of heart problems including heart failure, angina, arrhythmias, and valvular heart disease. In addition, CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant. Research suggests that CoQ10 may be beneficial when used in high doses in treating breast cancer. It is also useful in treating allergic diseases, chronic fatigue, and any condition that would benefit from enhanced oxygenation. Some classes of drugs lower CoQ10 levels, including cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins), beta blockers, and sulfonylureas that are used to treat diabetes.
Sixth, (The docs snuck in an extra one!) Vitamin H. One of the requirements for a substance to be designated as a vitamin is that it must have a deficiency state. Vitamin H is also called hope. A deficiency of hope leads to feelings of discouragement and high stress levels that can interfere with recovery. In fact, just five minutes of even recalling a past stressful situation has been shown to result in six hours of immune system suppression. That’s one little negative nostalgic indulgence with a pretty big price tag. All thoughts have a downstream consequence in the physical body. Vitamin H synthesis starts gradually with awareness of habitually stressful thoughts. Once identified, (we all have them), move away from them and toward what brings you happiness. Then, simply do more of the happy thing and less of the stress thing. Use your brain . . . for a change.

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