Many people take supplements of one kind or another. Magnesium, vitamin D, and B vitamins are probably some of the most popular as well as multi-vitamins. As more people begin taking them, it brings up some good questions: What are supplements? Are they necessary? Why would you want to take them?
In their most basic form, supplements, vitamins, and minerals are something our bodies need. Most of these we gain naturally when we eat, particularly from our vegetables and fruit. So, why would we need to take more? The answer to that can be complicated, but comes down to this:
-We aren't getting enough in our diet. The American diet has changed. We've begun adding in more meats and processed foods, and drastically reduced our vegetable and fruit intake. These foods do not give us the nutrients we need, sadly, and we become lacking quite quickly. I will discuss this more in other blogs, but for here, let's just have a basic understanding that our food system and dietary habits have changed over the past 100-150 years. Supplements can help fill in the gaps and keep our bodies healthy.
-Our food sources aren't as rich in nutrition as they once were. As farming habits and methods have changed, so has our produce. There's been some interesting research that shows our vegetables and fruit have fewer vitamins, minerals, and basic nutritional value than in previous years. So we have to eat even more to get the same benefit our parents or grandparents received from their food! Supplementation can do just that--supplement what we are missing from our foods.
-With digestive issues on the rise, many of us can't absorb enough through their diet. If the gut lining is irritated, it makes it difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients in the food. Also, studies are showing the microbes which aid our digestive system becoming less diverse and fewer in number. This means we can't digest foods as we once did. This is another long topic for another blog, so we just need to realize that quite a few of us are having a hard time even absorbing what we should be from our foods. Giving larger doses of supplements can help get us a bit more of what we need while we work to fix these digestive issues.
-Some conditions, or times, call for larger amounts or something extra to help our bodies stay healthy. For example, in spring and fall there is always a rise in cold and flu cases. Some supplements can aid us in fighting off an infection and give our immune system a boost. Other conditions can also benefit from various supplements made from herbs and things. This is where a discussion with your naturopath or acupuncturist can help. They can recommend the best ones for you.
So, we've covered the necessity, "the good", but sadly, there is a "bad, and ugly" side to supplements. It would be amazing if I could just recommend a certain vitamin to someone and not worry, but brand and purchasing source are important with supplements.
Not all supplement brands are created equal. Some companies create more potent products which are more easily digested by the body. Finding supplements that are going to give you the dose you need, and can be used by your body is important. Since they can be expensive, you don't want to waste your money on something to not gain any benefit from it! So, definitely look for a good quality one, and ask your provider about brands and types.
Also, it is highly recommended to NOT buy supplements through sites, like Amazon. They have not been able to guarantee quality control. Some of the sellers are selling fake products. So that supplement on the bottle may not be the real brand, or even the correct substance! Some of these can even be dangerous and have toxins in them. Please, go to a reputable dealer for your supplements. Again, asking a medical provider such as an acupuncturist, or naturopath, can be helpful in selecting a brand, or store.
Supplements are beneficial when of a good quality and when used in the correct manner. I hope this helps answer a few questions and gets you started thinking about supplements and how they can help you. I also hope it helps you avoid a few pitfalls as you look into types and brands.
Also, to help you on your path, here is a link to my online store of good quality supplements. Register for your account, and you will even see some of my favorites! (I will be updating my favorite list as time goes on.) The store will also have it's own page on my site starting today. If you have any questions, bring them to your next appointment, or call/email me! I look forward to seeing you.