inner engine fitness

building a better body

Should You Supplement?

on May 13, 2016

We just don’t get enough vitamins and minerals out of our food anymore! Our soil is depleted and there are many versions of our favorite foods that are made to taste better, but do not necessarily have a better nutrient profile. And so we supplement!

Most people now take a multivitamin to cover the nutritional deficiencies in their diet. A good many people just do not eat enough nutrient-dense food. And every time the public hears of a new product that will improve their health, the sales of the supplement skyrocket. But are the pills helping?

There are a couple of things to consider when figuring out if you need supplements. First of all, know that they are not regulated like medications. What this means is that they are generally considered to be safe, but the amount of vital ingredient may be less than what is stated on the label. That is crucial to your finances. Second of all, they don’t always have long-term studies to prove that the supplement does what it is supposed to do. (Some of the information about health benefits is taken from the real food, not just the active ingredient.) And even if they do, sometimes the reports are conflicting. This is even more important to your wallet and your health.

So, what is the best plan when thinking about whether to purchase supplements? The best first step is to take a close look at your diet and your health. Does your diet seem well-balanced and nutrient-rich, including some organic or local produce? Do you eat a variety of fresh foods that would cover most of the vitamins and minerals your body needs, or do you eat a lot of processed foods that have very limited nutrients? The next best step if you are concerned about deficiencies is to call your healthcare provider and get a full work-up to look at what your body may be missing. Perhaps even a conversation with your doctor would yield the answers you seek.

If you follow those steps, you will discover that you probably don’t need to supplement as much or for as long as you think you do. If you eat a variety of nutritious foods and keep processed foods to a minimum, you are already doing pretty well. If you need to work on your diet, then you should start there, not with supplements. The doctor’s appointment should shed light on any major deficiencies and will enable you to talk to your doctor about what you’re considering taking.

Whichever direction you choose, remember to pick your supplements wisely because you may not be getting everything you paid for and the benefits may not include all that the supplement suggests. When or if you decide to supplement, do your research to find reputable companies that do third-party testing to make sure that you are getting a good quality supplement. This is important for quality assurance as well as potency.

In closing, I believe supplements should be used sparingly, sticking only to those that you know you are in need of. My personal inventory is a multi-vitamin, calcium magnesium, green superfood (for insurance!), fish oil and vitamin D. I have found through the years that those are what my body needs. Good luck finding what works for you!

Here are a few articles to get you started if you’re interested in delving further:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Vitamin-Supplements-Healthy-or-Hoax_UCM_432104_Article.jsp#.VzZdVX2UiM8

https://www.verywell.com/do-you-need-to-take-vitamins-2507776

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