I recently gave a presentation at Syracuse University and was asked an excellent question by one of the staff members.
She said that her doctor had told her to take Vitamin D supplements because a test had shown she was low in it.
Then she asked, “How does someone know what supplements, if any, they need to take?”
Here is the answer to that very important question:
Supplement means supplement
First and foremost, a supplement is a supplement.
Meaning they are meant to be taken in addition to a healthy diet—NOT used as a replacement for a healthy diet or worse yet, taken to magically undo the effects of a continuing bad diet!
Your primary source of nutrients should be FOOD—your body truly does know the difference.
Your body is designed to use nutrients in their natural states from whole foods—it breaks down the whole food and in addition to assimilating the nutrients, your body also uses the fiber, water, enzymes and antioxidants in that food.
Let’s take a look at an example of an orange versus Vitamin C capsules.
When you eat an orange not only are you getting Vitamin C, but also folate, Vitamin B1 (thiamin), potassium, Vitamin A, calcium and carotenoids (antioxidant compounds).
Plus here’s what the fiber in the orange will help with—hang on to your hat:
- It encourages regular bowel movements which will help keep your intestinal tract and your immune system healthy
- It will bind to old worn out hormones and cholesterol and help them to be eliminated with your feces (instead of being reabsorbed and increasing your risk of hormone-related cancers and cholesterol problems)
- It helps prevent intestinal problems like chronic constipation and diverticulosis
- It can help you maintain a healthy bodyweight by making you feel and stay fuller longer.
And the enzymes and water in the orange help to sweep away wastes from your cells and keep your pH alkaline which in turn helps all of your organs and systems work better.
You won’t even come close to any of THAT action taking Vitamin C capsules!
See the difference it makes?
Which ones do I need?
As far as which supplements you might need, there’s no easy answer to that because everyone’s needs are different.
Here are just a few of the factors that may affect what supplements someone might need:
- Biochemical individuality (meaning your body’s unique requirements and DNA programming)
- What medications you may be on
- Underlying medical history
- Stress levels
- Exercise habits
- Congenital conditions and abnormalities
- Past surgeries
- Lifestyle habits (like smoking, alcohol use and drug use)
- Exposure to toxins and chemicals in the environment or the workplace
- Enzyme deficiencies that may affect your nutrient absorption
Plus one of the biggest factors to consider is the fact that our food is not as nutritious as the food our grandparents ate.
Thanks to bioengineering of crops, nutrient-depleted soils and contaminated bodies of water, the food we grow today is not as nutritious as the food we produced even a few decades ago.
In addition, we are becoming increasingly reliant on imported crops from all over the world. When your fruits and vegetables come from halfway across the world, you can bet that they were picked LONG before they were ripe (and are less nutritious as a result). Plus the gases and preservatives they are treated with so they don’t rot on the journey over here reduce the nutrient content too.
Where to start
First of all, it’s important to know if you have any obvious deficiencies—and that involves getting tested by your doctor.
Unfortunately, most mainstream doctors don’t do a lot of nutrient testing. If your doctor is not familiar with nutrient testing or says it can’t be done, there are a lot of great labs that are more than happy to perform this test.
Empire City Laboratories in Brooklyn, NY is just one of many—here is the link to their website that you can show your doctor: http://www.empirecitylabs.com/index.php?section=home
If you find you’re deficient in any nutrient, it’s best to start by increasing your food sources of the needed nutrient(s). If you need a good reference for food sources of nutrients, try the World’s Healthiest Foods website—it’s excellent: http://www.whfoods.com/
If changes to your diet aren’t enough to correct any shortcomings you might have, then supplementation can be your next step.
The two most people desperately need
If you can’t get nutrient testing done and want to make sure you’ve got all bases covered, it’s perfectly fine to take a quality multi-vitamin formula in addition to eating a healthy diet.
About the worst that could happen is you might get some extra nutrients your body doesn’t need, and if that’s the case, your body can eliminate most of the excess in your urine.
But note that there are two very important supplements that the average person doesn’t even come close to getting enough of in their diet or even in the best multi-vitamin formula.
These two supplements are SO vital because they serve a multitude of important functions in your body…and being without them WILL take a toll on your health.
That is a certainty.
The two superstar supplements are: Probiotics and Omega-3 essential fatty acids
Here’s the scoop on both of those:
Trillions of beneficial bacteria live in your intestinal tract. In addition to making up about 70% of your immune system they also:
- Aid in digestion, helping to eliminate digestive problems such as IBS, constipation or diarrhea
- Reduce inflammation
- Protect you against diseases like cancer
- Enhance gut wall strength, helping to “seal up” or prevent leaky gut
- Help alleviate allergic responses
- Help lower cholesterol
But there are also harmful bacteria in your gut that weaken the intestinal wall, cause digestive problems and lead to countless other illnesses. Therefore, a proper balance of beneficial bacteria over harmful (at least 85% good and 15% or less bad) is essential to good health.
But the foods most peoples eat today (like fast food, processed food, soda and refined carbs) feed the harmful bacteria, which then overcome the helpful ones.
In addition, other factors such as smoking, environmental toxins, lack of sleep, stress and drinking chlorinated water also create an intestinal environment which favors harmful bacteria overgrowth.
Now, there are natural food sources of probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, sauerkraut, tempeh, pickles and olives. But the average person doesn’t eat these foods nearly often enough to ensure a healthy year-round gut flora population…therefore, supplementation is extremely important.
A quality multi-strain probiotic supplement such as Super Shield can help you achieve this crucial healthy intestinal flora balance.
Super Shield has 13 well-studied strains of beneficial bacteria that are potent, feisty and ready to fight off harmful bacteria, beef up your immune system and keep your gut wall strong.
2- Omega-3 essential fatty acids
The critical Omega-3 fatty acids needed by your body are Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
EPA and DHA are a MAJOR structural component of your cell membranes where they help control cell signaling, immune response, inflammation, hormone production and other metabolic functions.
Other health benefits of EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Promote arterial flexibility and elasticity
- Reduce dangerous LDL cholesterol while increasing healthy HDL levels
- Lower triglycerides
- Support healthy blood pressure and protect against blood clots
- Optimize brain health and mental clarity, memory and concentration.
- Prevent degenerative joint conditions
- Promote nervous system health and reduce the severity of disorders like depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder and OCD
- Fight chronic inflammation
Due to our highly processed diets and the lack of naturally occurring Omega-3 EFAs in our food supply, many people have a serious Omega-3 deficiency.
Omega-3 EFAs are found in abundance in oily fish like salmon, but fish isn’t something that everyone likes or eats a lot of, plus there are seafood allergies and contaminants in our oceans and many fish farms to worry about.
So supplementation is very prudent for the average person!
VitalMega-3 is a super-potent high-quality fish oil supplement that delivers a full 1,000 mg. of the necessary EPA and DHA essential fatty acids in the 3:2 ratio recommended by many health experts.
There are others too
Now there are MANY more supplements out there that I didn’t mention that serve very valid functions, and if you feel you need them and are not getting adequate amounts in your healthy diet, first check with your doctor to make sure they aren’t contra-indicated, and then check them out.
And if you’re already taking other supplements and getting positive results, great!
However, the two supplements I mentioned above are the real heavy hitters that are most likely to help get YOU on a track to better health now and into your golden years.
So remember, get them in your diet first and supplement as needed!