First of all, I’d like to say I’m not a big fan of dietary supplements, but in some cases, they’re necessary. Vegetarians, vegans and those with food allergies inevitably may have to supplement in order to avoid malnutrition.
With that being said, there are three principles to supplementing wisely:
- Get nutrients from food whenever possible
- Take nutrients in their naturally occurring form whenever possible
- Be selective with your supplementation
Humans are adapted to getting nutrients from whole foods. Whether they’re vitamins or minerals, most nutrients usually require certain enzymes and/or mineral-activators to be properly absorbed. So there is certainly a disadvantage to isolated supplements.
There was actually a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition called Food Synergy: An Operational Concept For Understanding Nutrition emphasizing the importance of getting nutrients from whole foods, the authors concluded:
A person or animal eating a diet consisting solely of purified nutrients in their Dietary Reference Intake amounts, without benefit of the coordination inherent in food, may not thrive and probably would not have optimal health. This review argues for the primacy of food over supplements in meeting nutritional requirements of the population.
Just eat real food as much as can and try not to limit yourself.
The Problem with Multivitamins
Taking multivitamins is the new fad these days, but they’re a bunch of bullshi’t. Most studies show that multivitamins either provide no benefit, or even cause harm. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that multivitamins have little to no influence on the risk of common cancers, Cardiovascular disease or total mortality in postmenopausal women.
A now infamous meta-analysis in the Journal of American Medical Association, which looked at over 68 trials with 230,000 pooled participants, found that treatment with synthetic beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E may increase mortality.
Better think twice before popping that One A Day…..That money is going down the drain and coming out your ass….
What to Supplement
The best way to know what you’re deficient in is to go to the doctor for some simple blood work. Other than that, the most common deficiencies are in magnesium, omega-3, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and for some, K2. Vegetarians and especially vegans should consider supplementing with B vitamins, iron, taurine as their diets are more restrictive.
Magnesium is really difficult to get these days, especially from food. Nuts and seeds have a decent amount of magnesium, but because of their high polyunsaturated fat content, the daily magnesium requirements can’t be met with a healthy amount of nuts. Oh, and let’s not forget that major top soil has become weak and is losing nutrients as time goes on…….(hydroponics anyone?!)
Vitamin A is abundant in organ meats, but here in America, most of us are squeamish of organ meats. Careful supplementing vitamin A however…..There is a chance for toxicity if you’re lacking vitamin D is well. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, but most Americans don’t get enough sunlight. Even those that do tend to not absorb it well, probably due to damage done to the liver by the typical american diet over time.
Do your best to get your nutrients from real food, but please, if you’re deficient consider supplements.