Choosing the Best Supplements

Apr 29, 2020

It seems like every day there is a new commercial or advertisement for the "Next Big Thing" in the world of supplements. A new formula that promises to help you lose weight, one that will cure your brain fog, one that will clear your skin from the inside out, and one that will remove all inflammation from your body. I'm not about to begin to list which of these supplements I think work and which ones I think are a scam, but I will tell you what *most* people are lacking in their bodies. Please note, this is strictly for your information. I do not prescribe or diagnose anything, you are encouraged to do your own research. 

The reality is, most Americans do not get the required amount of each vitamin and mineral needed for the body to operate at it's best. Even with a good multivitamin, we are often lacking in nutrients. Some of this is due to the severity of deficit, some is from the constant overuse of the vitamin or mineral, and some is due to the body's inability to absorb and/or convert those nutrients into useful components. 

Each body and lifestyle is different so no one supplement will correct every person's ailments. A supplement that works great for one person, may not work for the next. Again, this goes back to what is causing the lack of nutrients to begin with. If muscle cramps in the body are due to a lack of magnesium, then it is likely magnesium will help correct it. If it's due to a lack of water, then magnesium will not make a difference. If you experience adrenal fatigue, iron may not be the answer to your constant tiredness. There are a lot of moving parts to your wellness and what your body needs may change based on where you're at on your cycle or what phase of life you're in. I do offer specific education regarding herbs, vitamins, and minerals for my clients in their sessions.

As far as purchasing supplements go quality truly does matter. This is a case where you get exactly what you pay for. One company's Vitamin C may cost $4.00 where another one is listed at $16.00 for what is seemingly the same thing. Here is something to think about though. First of all, there is nothing in nature that comes in pill form. Everything we consume via pill has to be modified to hold that shape. If it is a tablet you're taking, there is certainly some type of filler being used to keep that vitamin or mineral stuck together in the oblong shape. It is not that the filler is necessarily bad, but you may be paying for more filler than the vitamin or mineral itself. Whenever possible, I encourage clients to take capsules instead of tablets to help prevent this. The other reason I love capsules is that they break down easier in the body. Some tablets are covered with a coating that is designed to make it "easier on the stomach." Prenatal vitamins do this often because of the likelihood of nausea in pregnancy. The thought is great, but it does not help gain nutrition. Our bodies digestion process begins in the mouth and then the stomach. In the stomach, the body breaks everything down to absorbable components before passing into the small intestine. Often those coatings are designed to not break down until that pill is in the small intestine. This means that the nutrients in that supplement are not yet available to be absorbed by the body, so the benefit is minimal. Capsules, especially vegetarian capsules, are broken down easily by the stomach allowing that supplement to be readily available in the small intestine. Another thought regarding supplements is this: every single supplement you consume is ideally available in nature. We don't get enough calcium through milk and broccoli so we take a calcium supplement. The foods we consume don't include enough iron, so we take an iron supplement. It is not that any of these supplements are synthetically made in a lab like most prescription medications are. They are available in our food, we are just unable to consume enough of them to meet our daily requirements. Except for a newly pregnant mother who has a hard time with ANY food, if your supplement is food, it should not make you sick. There should be no reason to coat the pill to protect your stomach if the pill is made of food because food doesn't upset your stomach. It is usually the filler in these supplements that is upsetting on an empty stomach. Also, be aware that there are multiple types of minerals and vitamins. For instance, there are eight B Vitamins. There are different types of iron and magnesium. Some forms of magnesium are great for bowel motility, but not for muscle cramps. Some types of iron are better absorbed than others and some of them cause more constipation than others do. If you are going to take a supplement, whether it is prescribed by your Primary Care Provider or you saw it on TV, please do some research before picking up the first thing you see on the shelf and calling it good.

A quick note on supplement "programs" that are designed to help you with a specific problem. Please be aware that anyone can put a name on any combination of vitamins/minerals and call it the fix to an ailment. Supplements do not have to be evaluated by the FDA for effectiveness so it is important to question what it is you are taking. An example would be a company that markets a detox product that is guaranteed to help your body rid itself of toxins. This sounds great and is in high demand, so they can charge $90/30 pills. At a closer look, you discover that the supplement is the laxative herb, senna. So yes, you are going every day and that does help your body rid itself of toxins, but you can also buy that same supplement for $3 with a different brand name on it. Be cautious! Read your labels! Do some research and find a brand or two that you trust and stick with them! 

So how do you pick a good supplement? Well, the make-it-easy girl in me says that if you have found it in a health food store, it is probably a pretty safe bet as the owners of the store trust the brand. Some other things to look for are the words organic, vegetarian/vegan, non-GMO, high bioavailability, and allergen-free. I know it sounds a bit "crunchy granola-y" but if you're going to be spending money on a supplement to benefit your body, make it count! You wouldn't put cheap fuel into a Ferrari, stop putting cheap fuel into your body!

May your body always be nourished and may nothing less than love and light enter your space. 


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