Pretty much everyone is taking some type of supplement. Whether its a multivitamin, minerals, or fish oil, almost everyone is taking something.
But, are your supplements helping you, or harming you?
People start on supplements because they have some symptoms and they tell a friend or relative who says, yeah I know someone who had that symptom and they took X,Y, & Z and they got better. That’s great but you aren’t that other person. Your symptoms may be the same but that doesn’t mean the underlying cause is the same. I’ve done that in the past, before I knew better.
Marketing says, if you have these issues take this, or these supplements and you’ll feel better. And, you might, for a while. Most likely the symptoms will come back and probably be worse. Or other symtpoms may show up. However most supplements are junk. The ones that advertised are typically the lowest quality, it keeps the cost down.
If you start taking supplements to treat symptoms, you are doing what standard medical practice does; they prescribe something to treat your specific complaint without determining the cause.
But what if the supplements you are taking are actually making your health worse? Many times the side-effects are very subtle and you never realize you are feeling worse. How can that be? There can be several reasons. Low price, low quality supplements may not contain what the label says. Supplements aren’t regulated and the FDA generally doesn’t check up on manufacturers unless a lot of people have complained about a product.Supplements from China are notorious for not ingredients not matching the label and many times they make contain toxic/poisonous substances.
Another reason is that many supplements contain ingredients that you could be sensitive too. This could be gluten, it could be the binders they use to hold the pill together it could be the active ingredient or something like polysorbate 80 which is used in food and cosmetics. It could even be an interaction between that particular supplement and any others you are takng or with a prescription medication.
How do you determine if the supplements you are taking are helping or harming you? You could do trial and error. Stop taking everything for a week to let them clear out of your system, then add one back and pay attention to how you feel over several days. If you feel worse stop taking it. If you feel the same, you may not need it. If you feel better, keep taking it. Then add in another one and repeat the process.
Or you can follow the FDN process of completing intake forms and running labs then correlating things. This process is used to find the underlying cause(s) of your symptoms, which was why you started on the supplements in the first place. Rather than guess, we assess. This gives us a plan of attack to heal your body instead of treating symtoms.
I do think that everyone needs a high quality multi-vitamin and mineral complex. That is not Centrum or similar store brands. Those are made as cheaply as possible with low quality ingredients, that are mostly not absorbable by the body, with low qualty binders and additional ingredients that aren’t necessary. Some quality brands for vitamins and minerals are Pure Encapsulations, Source of Life, and Vital Nutrients. There are many more but those are a few I’ve found to be top quality.
Most people should also be on a high qualtiy fish oil product. Brands like Nordic Naturals, Carlson’s, or Vital Nutrients are some of higher quality oils out there. If you are taking a plant based “fish oil” supplement you are wasting your money.
The third supplment is usually recommend for most people is Vitamin D with K2.Okay that’s actually two but you can get them together. Everyone is Vitamin D deficient unless you live near the equator and get total body exposure for 30 minutes every day. The K2 is needed to make sure the Vitamin D doesn’t pull calcium from the bones. I like the Buried Treasure Vitamin D with K2 but there are other brands that are just as good, maybe better. Vital Nutrients is a good choice.
The resason I recommend these is because almost everyone is deficient and taking these three supplements can go a long way towards improving your health. It’s tough to get all the micronutrients you need from food theses days, especially if you eat a lot of highly processed foods, including all restaurant foods, chips, crackers etc, instead of eat fresh whole foods, meat, fish and veggies.
Even if you do eat high quality foods you probably aren’t getting what you need. Poor farming practices have led to a decrease of minerals in the soil which means they aren’t there for the vegetables to absorb. The same with vitamins and minerals you get from animal products. Eating pastured raised beef and poultry will get you closer to the vitamins and minerals you need but the animals are ingesting them either (soil depletion effects their food as well). If you are eating conventionally raised meat and poultry you aren’t getting anywhere near what you need on a daily basis. And, if you aren’t eating fresh, wild-caught fish, you aren’t getting any EPA or DHA, both of which are healthy fats.
Part of the FDN DRESS program is a supplementation protocol. However, every supplement I recommend is intended to help your body heal and you will only be using them for 30,60, or maybe 90 days. Once your body has healed itself you won’t need them anymore. In some instances I will recommend specific supplements to tackle what we uncovered with lab results, for example a parasitic infection. Once the parasites are gone you can stop the supplements.
The bottom line is don’t randomly take supplements, determine the cause of your symptoms and treat your body, Randomly trying supplements, MIGHT help, but it could make things worse.
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