Are dietary supplements essential or a waste of money?
“Can I get all the vitamins and nutrients I need from food?” a client will occasionally ask. On the surface, this sounds logical. After all, if your nutrition is based on a whole on fresh, unprocessed foods diet, shouldn’t you be able to get an ample supply of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients?
Regrettably, things aren’t that easy. Even with a ‘perfect’ diet, the combination of many things—including our depleted soils, the lengthy storage and transportation of our food, genetic modifications of traditional varieties, and the increased stress and nutritional demands resulting from a toxic environment—make it literally impossible for us to get the vitamins and minerals we require exclusively from our diet.
Basically, we cannot get away from the necessity for nutritional supplementation.
Medical professionals used to think that we got all of our vitamins and minerals from food. Any extra nutrients were eliminated, or worse, became toxic. But the tide is turning. Medical professionals now prescribe over $1 billion in Omega 3 supplements. Most cardiologists recommend folate, fish oil and coenzyme Q10. Gastroenterologists recommend probiotics. Obstetricians have for decades recommended prenatal vitamins.
Constant scientific evidence shows the significance of nutrients as essential helpers in our biochemistry and metabolism. They are the oil that greases the wheels, so to speak, of our metabolism. Large-scale deficiencies of nutrients—including omega-3 fats, vitamin D, folate, zinc, magnesium and iron—have been well documented in extensive research.
There are numerous reasons why most of us are low on nutrients, anything from eroding topsoil depleting our mineral supply, to a toxic environment and the abundance of junk food many of us eat. If I was asked to narrow down nutrient depletion to primary reasons, I would say the following:
We evolved eating wild foods that contained significantly higher levels of all vitamins, minerals, and essential fats.
Modern fertilizers do not supply enough trace elements. One hundred years ago, manures were used extensively for fertilizer. Today, superphosphate fertilizers have largely replaced manures. These contain mainly nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and are deficient in the trace elements. This is sad, but true. Our crops are more like a person on steroids – stimulated, but not as strong and safe. Superphosphates often act more as growth stimulants. This has contributed greatly to depletion of the soil and crop minerals. This includes organically grown food, although it is much better
Food additives often further deplete nutrients. Thousands of artificial flavours, colours, dough conditioners, sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, stabilizers, flavour enhancers like MSG, emulsifiers, hardeners, softeners, chemical preservatives and other chemicals are added to most people’s food today. While a few are harmless and may even increase the quality of the food by preserving it, many are toxic and many diminish the nutritional content of the food. Among the worst are preservatives like BHA and BHT, artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, and perhaps EDTA, a chelating agent that is added to some frozen vegetables to preserve the colour of the vegetables. The way it works is by removing vital minerals from the surface of the vegetable because when minerals oxidize, the colour of the vegetable turns dark and ugly. This is like tarnishing of silver.
Weak digestion and poor eating habits impair the absorption of nutrients. Almost everyone’s digestion is very weak today. This is due to eating poor quality food, hybridized varieties of foods like wheat, and having to digest and handle so many refined foods and chemicals in the foods. It is also due to low vitality, low digestive enzyme secretion, and imbalanced intestinal flora and intestinal infections like yeast that are extremely common. This is quite a deadly combination. As a result, most people do not absorb nutrients well at all. This further impairs nutrient levels in the body, and increases nutritional needs. This is why in nutritional balancing programs, everyone is given a digestive aid containing digestive enzymes such as pancreatin and ox bile.
Because of depleted soils, industrial farming and hybridisation techniques, the animals and vegetables we eat have fewer nutrients, not to mention are full of antibiotics and pesticides.
Processed industrial-made foods are nutrient empty.
The overall burden of environmental toxins, lack of sunlight and chronic stress lead to greater nutrient requirements.
These are amongst the reasons why everyone, at the very least, needs a good multivitamin, fish oil and vitamin D. I also recommend probiotics because modern life, diet and antibiotics, as well as other medications, damage our gut environment, which is so significant in keeping us healthy and thin.
Contradictory though it might seem, obesity and malnutrition often go hand in hand. Processed, high-sugar, high-calorie foods significantly lack nutrients, yet necessitate even more vitamins and minerals to metabolise them. Two for the price of one.
Obesity and diabetes both stem from malnutrition. Experts have described diabetes as starvation in the midst of plenty. The sugar can’t get into the cells. Metabolism is sluggish, and the cells don’t communicate as synchronically as they ought to.
Nutrients are an essential part of getting back into balance and correcting the core issue, namely, insulin resistance.
There are two manners in which supplements work:
They make the body cells more sensitive to insulin and more effective at metabolising sugar and fats.
Special fibres (which I will get to in a moment) can make the absorption of sugars and fats into the bloodstream sluggish.
This leads to a quicker metabolism, more balanced blood sugar, improved cholesterol, decreased inflammation, fewer cravings, more weight loss and more vavavoom.
If you have diabesity and keep in mind most people do to some degree—I recommend additional nutrients to reset and correct metabolic imbalances, improve insulin function, balance blood sugar and reduced inflammation. But first, let’s probe a little further into this baffling subject:
It’s easy to be confused by conflicting studies about supplements. One day Vitamin E is good; the next it is found to cause cancer. One day vitamin D is a lifesaver; the next it is found to be useless.
This media impact is sufficient to make you give up completely. The problem with these studies is that they treat nutrients as drugs, where researchers give one nutrient alone and observe what happens.
But nutrients work together. Kale is great for you and can help prevent and cure many diseases, but if all you ate was kale, you would turn into a goat. You need to have balanced nutrition to retain your health. Similarly, nutrients work synergistically to maintain the proper balance in the body.
You know what you are getting when your pharmacist fills your prescription. The authorities makes sure of that. Over-the-counter supplements are not controlled in the same way. Manufacturers often cut corners and this can create problems for the average consumer.
Problems with over-the-counter supplements may include:
1. The form of the nutrient may be cheap and poorly absorbed or used by the body.
2. The dosage on the label may not match the dose in the pill.
3. It may be filled with additives, colours, fillers and allergens.
4. The raw materials (especially herbs) may not be tested for toxins, such as mercury or lead, or may not be consistent from one batch to another.
5. The factory in which it is produced may not follow best standards, leading to inconsistent and poor quality.
I use supplements in my practice as a cornerstone of healing and repair, so I have investigated supplement makers, toured factories and studied independent analyses of their finished products. I have learned there are a few companies I can rely on, many of which you can find in my online store.
Whether you follow my product recommendations or not, be sure to pick quality supplements, those that contain nutrients and compounds that your healthcare practitioner recommends as helpful in the treatment of diabesity and insulin resistance.
Think of them as part of your diet. You want the best-quality food and the best-quality supplements you can afford. Guidance from a trained dietitian, nutritionist, or nutritionally oriented physician or health care practitioner can be helpful in selecting the products that are adequate for you.
If you haven’t done so previously, I encourage you to make an appointment with a nutritionally orientated healthcare practitioner to help you set up a plan and discusses the benefits of each supplement. To get you started, I will discuss how the supplements I recommend will benefit you.
Everyone reading this article should get on the basic plan of supplements and stay on them for life. Even if you are “cured” of any medical condition, you will need to keep taking them, because you need special vitamins, minerals and herbs to help recompense for your genetic tendency toward certain conditions such as insulin resistance.
For an interesting contemporary discussion about this subject you may want to read this: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-127055/Are-vitamin-pills-waste-time-money.html
For an in-depth review of Nutritional Supplements and nutritional balancing click here