I’ve tried to keep this review of Supplements as brief as possible. The bottom line is that you probably don’t need much in the way of supplementation, and if you do, you should be careful what you take.
Rule # 1: There is no replacement for real food.
- This is because real food has phytonutrients, the compounds which help plants and fruits fight off disease, and phytonutrients can’t be replaced with supplements.
- Real food also has fiber, protein, fat, energy, and fills us up, which allows us to survive. Supplements can’t replace real food.
Rule # 2: If you’re going to take a supplement, make sure it is what it says it is, and more importantly that it’s safe.
This is a good way to know if your supplement is reputable. Look for one of these accreditation symbols, and you’ll know at least that it is what it says it is.
Rule # 3: Determine what you need to take as a supplement, if anything, and then see Rule 1 & 2 while proceeding with caution.
To test for vitamin deficiencies, ask your doctor, or look for these signs and symptoms:
- Getting colds and allergies often? – Consider supplementing with Vitamin C and Vitamin D, and with a probiotic, which might boost your immunity.
- Constipation? - Consider adding fiber to your diet through oatmeal, whole grains, raw veggies, or fiber supplements
- Muscle cramps? – You may be lacking potassium, calcium, or magnesium. Prescription medications can contribute to the problem.
- Brittle hair and nails? –This can be caused by low Biotin.
- Dry Skin? -Vitamin A can help with this. Consider a low dose supplement.
- Mouth sores? – Can be caused by low Vitamin B6.
- Irritability, depression, loss of balance- Vitamin B12 can be a factor.
- Try pressing on your chest. If your skin is swelling and has a crater where you pressed, you may be low on Vitamin D.
- When you get a physical, ask to test for vitamin deficiencies. Your doctor should be able to assess your bloodwork for other factors other than and in addition to vitamin and mineral testing, such as white blood cells and red blood cells, and make suggestions, even if the direct information about specific vitamins is lacking. You may also be able to get a hair test for Iron deficiency.
- Check your medications carefully. Most of them have side effects that could contribute to vitamin or mineral loss.
The Final Word
The supplement business is full of quacks who are out to make a buck. Vitamin supplements are overly relied on and usually aren’t needed. There is not 100% conclusive proof that they are beneficial in the long run, but this is difficult to prove one way or the other. The most important factor is safety. Don’t take it if you don’t need it. Here are some things you can do though:
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids, or Fish Oil Capsules, may be good for you and help with inflammation in general. You can also get this is healthy fats like avocados, nuts, olives, and eating fish.
- A multi-vitamin is fine, and can cover the gaps.
- Herbal supplements like Ginger, Turmeric, and Garlic may be good for inflammation.
- Co-Q 10 may have some cardiovascular benefits.
- Supplementing with Vitamin C, as an anti-oxidant, might be helpful in times of stress or if exposed to radiation. An interesting recommendation made by Dr. Andrew Weil was to supplement Vitamin C, or eat something that contains it, when you eat meat. The idea is that it counteracts the negative effects of charred meats.
- Vitamin D is crucial to many different things like cellular metabolism and bone strength. You can be tested for deficiency.
- Eating fermented foods like Kraut or Yogurt, or taking a probiotic may improve your immune system and digestive regularity significantly.
- Fiber supplements can be used for regularity.
- Calcium supplements may be useful for post-menopausal females.
- Protein supplementation is not usually needed, but if you want to add some in, remember that the most your body can process healthily is about 1- 1.5 times your bodyweight in kilograms. Which for a 200 pound man is 91-135 grams per day. Take your bodyweight and divide by 2.2, which is your weight in kilograms, then multiply this number by 1 and 1.5 to find your maximum protein range.
Focus on eating less and eating well, vegetables & fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, lean meats that aren’t burnt and without a ton of fat on them, and keep your dairy to 1-2 times per day. Drinks lots of water because staying hydrated can solve many problems. Most importantly, enjoy cooking, eating, and all the fun and good times that go along with it.
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