Question: Do I need supplements?
Americans are malnourished.
You read that right: you can be malnourished and at the same time be overfed and fat. In fact, this is a major problem in the US right now. There is more calorie-dense and nutrient-poor food available than ever before in human history…and it tastes so good! We humans are drawn to these high calorie and addictive foods like a moth to a flame and we end up overeating them, but our cells don’t get the necessary nutrients to sustain health.
I’m an advocate of getting most of your nutrition from real FOOD. What's "real" food? Vegetables, fruits, animal proteins, and unaltered grains and starchy carbs. If you're still eating the standard American diet of cereal, crackers, granola bars, pasta, and bread, no supplement on Earth will help you - and nothing will heal you - like eating real, unprocessed foods. Unfortunately, even a person eating a perfectly balanced diet full of vegetables and fruits isn’t getting everything they need.
In fact, up to 90% of all Americans are deficient in at least one critical vitamin or mineral! Vitamin D, magnesium, potassium, and the B vitamins are all major players in how well you feel…and are among the many vital nutrients in which many people test low.
How is this possible?
Our soils are depleted of nutrients and we’ve genetically altered and selectively bred much of the nutrition right out of our food supply. The sad fact of the matter is that the fruits and vegetables grown today have been bred for size, higher sugar content, and increased resistance to disease, and are being grown in soils that contain fewer vital minerals. To get the same nutrition that our great grandparents got from eating an apple or a fresh bell pepper would require us to eat double and sometimes even triple the amount!
For these reasons, supplementation is important and should not be overlooked. Supplements are a great way to fill in the nutritional gaps and feel better faster…just don’t make supplements your main source of nutrition!
So what should you take?
Let’s begin with quality. You need to source quality supplements. The supplement industry is like the Wild West: there is very little regulation so it’s buyer beware! All of the ingredients and amounts should be clearly listed on the labels, and ideally you will find supplements that are free of unnecessary ingredients like dyes, flavors, and preservatives. And – little side note – don’t buy gummy supplements. They just add extra sugar and calories to your diet. You’re not five…take adult supplements without the fluff.
The first supplement I recommend to all of my clients is a high-quality, food-based multivitamin. If you can afford nothing else, this is the supplement to buy! A multivitamin will effectively fill in most nutritional gaps when coupled with a healthy diet. Why food-based? Because the cheap multis are made with synthetic vitamins which are more difficult for your body to absorb.
Next I recommend that all of my clients supplement with Omega 3. A high quality fish oil is the best and most absorbable source of Omega 3, though flax oil is a sufficient source for vegetarians and vegans. Quality is key…or you’ll get the “fish burps”…and no one wants those. Fish and flax oil should be cold-processed and come from reputable sources (i.e. wild caught fish and organic flax).
If you have a little extra money, spring for a good probiotic. The gut is the center of your universe, and if you have an imbalance in the bacteria that reside there, it can result in many seemingly unrelated health issues from gas and bloating to depression and skin rashes (that’s a whole other blog post…coming soon!). A good probiotic contains no less than 25 billion CFU (colony forming units) and at least five strains of bacteria including both Bifidobacterium and Lactobaccilli.
What supplements should I avoid?
Avoid any supplement that claims it will help you lose weight. Period. Most supplement-related hospital visits are for so-called fat loss supplements and “testosterone boosters”. At best these supplements are a waste of your precious money, and at worst, they are harmful to your health! If you want the secret to weight loss, look no further than your fridge or pantry…the foods contained therein will tell the story of why you are or are not losing weight! A supplement won’t reverse a poor diet.
Final thoughts on supplements
Just like diet and exercise, a supplement is only good if you take it regularly. Vitamin deficiencies, fatty acid imbalances, and gut dysbiosis (imbalance in gut flora) can take time – in some cases up to a year – to reverse! Buy high quality supplements, take them consistently, and don’t expect overnight miracles!
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I don’t sell supplements and probably never will. But that doesn’t mean I won’t give a plug to a supplement company that I feel carries quality products. Modere is one such company that has caught my attention. The three supplements I listed above, plus many more, can all be found through Modere, and all are very high quality and undergo rigorous testing for quality.
If you are interested in Modere products, talk to Rhonda! She’s a knowledgeable sales rep who can help you understand more about smart supplementation and get you started to better health!