Why Do I Have to Take Supplements? That’s a question I’m asked from time to time and while I’d like to say we can extract all of the nutrients we need from food alone, unfortunately I can not.
Most of the protocols I create will include taking supplements for at least 3 months. My approach to supplements is that they must be the best possible quality and selected for a specific purpose, then taken for the shortest amount of time, in the smallest dose. Supplement protocols are very individualized. There are a few supplements that I recommend for the maintenance of good health and to be used use on an ongoing basis, and that is discussed on an individual basis with each client.
After reading the following, you’ll have a much deeper understanding of how supplements support us and why they are an important part of health and recovery.
Food Isn’t Like It Use To Be
Over 100 years ago all food was local, nutritious, and grown in rich, untreated soil. Most people were able to get the nutrients they required simply by eating the diet their ancestors had eaten for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Since then, foods have been genetically modified, highly processed, sprayed and factory farmed. In addition, soils have been seriously depleted of nutrients. It takes at least 17 different minerals to grow a healthy plant but most chemical fertilizers only contain 3 minerals: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Between 1940 and 1991 mineral contents in fruit and vegetables decreased by up to 59% –
Nutrition and Health Journal, April 2003 17:85-115
Go into any drug store and you’ll notice that a whole isle is dedicated to digestive issues. People are unable to properly digest the food they are consuming. This is often because people are eating “food-like substances” that the body finds hard to digest. It’s not just a matter of what foods we eat, but it’s also a matter of digesting, absorbing and then assimilating that food into our bodies. For example, if you’re eating the best diet on the planet, yet can’t break down the food properly, the beneficial nutrients are never actually making their way into your body.
Poor Food Preparation
The way you process your food greatly influences the nutrition available top you in the food. Typically the more a food is processed, the greater the nutrition that is lost. For example, 24 hours after a cantaloupe is cut it has lost 35% of its vitamin C.
100 years ago there were no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, larvacides, chemical fertilizers and hormones in our food. Today, there are thousands of chemicals on our food and in our environment. In order to detoxify these chemicals and eliminate them from our bodies, we need nutrients. The nutrients we get from food are not enough to get rid of the chemicals.
In a study by an environmental group on people not working in
industry such as teachers and journalist, the researchers found that the blood of the
subjects contained nearly 100 chemicals that did not exist 40 years ago.
Dr. Mark Schauss, MB
The more stress you are under, the more nutrition you need. For example, if you were to walk across a bridge and it was constructed of rope and wood, you probably wouldn’t worry too much about the bridge’s integrity. However, if you were to take an 18- wheeler across the same bridge you’d probably want some stronger materials used. Your body is the same way in that it requires more resources when a greater stress is placed upon the system.
The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is a value established by the government that will protect most people from the disease associated with particular nutrients. For example, the RDA for vitamin D is between 400-800 IU (depending on age and gender). This is enough to prevent the severe diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency called rickets. However, that amount will not protect you from various cancers, autoimmune and degenerative diseases. Dosages of vitamin D needed for optimal health are between 1000-10,000 IU per day. This is up to 25 times more than is recommended by government agencies.
Often times dosages much higher than the government recommended amounts are needed both to restore one to optimal health and to maintain optimal health. Your supplementation protocol has been designed with consideration of your specific biochemical needs, and designed to bring your body back into optimal health.
Many people associate “side effects” with the negative effects because the term side effects is usually used in relation to the unwanted effects of drugs.When it comes to nutritional supplements, they also have side effects, however, the side effects are often good effects that are welcomed. You might notice that as you are progressing through your supplement program, symptoms resolve that were not your primary concern.
Although rare, there can be side effects with natural remedies. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Gas and bloating
- Loose stool or diarrhea
- Flushing (from B3)
- Fatigue (from calming herbs)
- Heart palpitations (from thyroid supplements)
- Any other new symptom not experienced before
Decreasing the dosage or discontinuing the supplement will usually resolve the symptom, but you should always check with your healthcare practitioner who you have an unexpected response to any supplement.
A Note on Specific Brands
Not all supplements are created equal. For the most part, I recommend practitioner-grade supplements. Generally, it is best to avoid big-box stores when purchasing your supplements. My basic advice to clients is that if your budget does not allow for the purchase of high-quality supplements, then do not include supplements in you routine at all. You are far better off to put your money towards quality vegetables and meat than to take poor-quality supplements with additives and little active ingredients that add a greater detoxification burden to the body. Then work towards saving for supplements and prioritize the ones that are most needed to treat a specific concern. When choosing a supplement you need to consider many things including:
- the form of the nutrient delivery method
- fillers and additives
- processing and manufacturing methods
- sources of ingredients
- active ingredients