something that completes or enhances something else when added to it
Supplements: yay or nay?
A supplement cannot and should not serve as a substitution for a healthy diet. A supplement should compliment a healthy diet. However the opposite seems to be the case for a lot of individuals. The dietary supplement industry is worth $37 billion dollars. I get that it’s way easier to stay regimented about your daily vitamin routine, but taking the easy route always comes with a cost— your health.
Unprocessed, whole foods will provide you with macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals and much more). As the names imply, you need larger amounts of these macronutrients to serve as fuel for life and smaller quantities of micronutrients in order to utilize this fuel and function.
Processed foods degrade the micronutrient content, which is why you’ll often see “enriched or fortified” on their labels. Substitute the word “enriched” for “fake vitamins added” and the label would be more accurate. Check your labels for added vitamins or minerals. If you have to add nutrients to your food then you probably shouldn’t be eating it in the first place. As the consumer, it’s up to you to be skeptical and question these things. It’s your health and what you eat dictates that in EVERY SINGLE WAY.
Also, you will not find a single supplement or even a handful of them that can provide you with every vitamin and mineral that you need. You’ve been told to eat a variety of foods instead of sticking to the same general foods everyday and this is a major reason why. And what good are these vitamins/minerals if you’re not consuming fuel from food with them? Your body requires fuel to shuttle and utilize these micronutrients just as your body requires micronutrients to shuttle and utilize fuel. There’s so much more to food than calories, vitamins, and minerals.
Hopefully, I’m not confusing you and making you think that supplements are bad. I’m all for them! However, I think that your food and lifestyle choices should be in order before you try to fix yourself with a supplement regimen. When used in combination with a good diet and healthy lifestyle, a multivitamin can make an overwhelming difference.
Why a multivitamin?
As the quality of our topsoil declines and with the increase of genetically modified foods, the nutrient quality in our food is going down tremendously. Food seems to be maintaining its caloric values while vitamin and mineral content is decreasing. This means that in order to consume adequate micronutrients, you have to consume a larger amount of food/calories. The majority of my nutrition clients are coming to me for weight loss, which usually means that we are dropping their caloric intake. I cannot expect them to consume enough vitamins and minerals WHILE eating less, so a multivitamin is necessary.
Be choosy with your supplement brands as you are for most other purchases in your life. You do your research for months before buying a car. If you come across a diet or food trend, chances are you Google that topic to find more information on your own. Take time to do your research on supplements and the companies behind them. A good supplement is an investment in your health. We typically under-acknowledge the complexity of the body. When you provide your body with what it needs to function, it can make the biggest difference in your health!
A few things to look for when choosing a supplement:
More doesn't equal better
1000% of your RDA (recommended daily allowance)?? Don’t fall for it. Vitamin or mineral toxicity is just as detrimental as having a deficit. If the supplement company is including such extreme ratios in their product, it’s for one of two reasons: they’re either hoping that the consumer falls into their trap OR they actually don’t have a good grasp of physiology and how the body uses these nutrients. Either way, it’s probably not a supplement company you want to buy from.
Supplements can be encapsulated in a number of ways. What your nutrients sit inside of is important. Think about it. You’re taking this supplement every single day. It might be in minute quantities, but these micro-dosages carry weight overtime.
Your supplements can be encapsulated in a form of cellulose (from plants) or gelatin (from animals). Both are totally fine. When it comes to excipients, which are the “fillers” that serve as binding agents for the nutrients to be encapsulated, you should do your research. Just because the name is unfamiliar or it’s a combination of words you’ve never heard of before doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. It's a good idea to be aware of what you're consuming. Plus, your supplement shouldn't need artificial colors to look prettier for the five second journey from bottle to mouth.
Lastly, the sources of your supplements matter! The quality of produce or animal determines the quality of these nutrients. If the supplements are sourced from organic or non-modified foods, the label should say so. Research a company's standards as much as you can.
Do you want recommendations on products or have questions on your supplements? Contact me via email or phone and I’d be happy to help! For now, here are two brands to point you in the right direction.
*ATP Science’s Multifood (Found on this website, Amazon, and other health websites)
In Health + Happiness,