The Truth About Supplements
In some of our past blogs, we have talked about vitamins and supplements. For example, we’ve discussed the most common ones to take, what they do, what foods to find them in, and more. However, we haven’t talked about the importance of taking quality supplements. We know taking supplements can get expensive but when it comes to your diet and health, you want to choose quality over cost and quantity.
Taking supplements is becoming more and more common. In fact, if you walk into any drug or food store, you will see rows of bottles lining the shelves of all different kinds of supplements. Some you may be taking already, some you may have heard about and others you may have no idea what it does or even how to pronounce it. This week’s blog will discuss the truth behind supplements. We won’t give specific brands but rather tell you the best way to get your vitamins and minerals, what to look for in a quality supplement, what ingredients to avoid, when to take them, and when to check with your healthcare provider.
Supplements are vitamins and minerals that are available in either capsules or tablets. People can take these supplements every day to receive the necessary daily recommended value of vitamins and minerals. Each vitamin and mineral has a daily recommended value, based on different factors like age and sex. It is our job each day to reach those recommended values and the best way to do that is through a clean diet that it filled with healthy fats, fruits/veggies, lean proteins and minimal carbohydrates.
Eating like this may be difficult so taking supplements is the next best thing. But is that vitamin you see on display at your local drug store, really the best choice? The way to found the answer is to read the ingredients. Just like in food! Turn the bottle around and scan down to read the ingredient list. If you see any of the below ingredients don’t buy the product! The reason is because these ingredients are fillers and additives. Some are chemically made vitamins, some are made from GMO’s, some are carcinogens and others have no nutritional content at all. So why are they allowed? Several reasons; supplements are not regulated by the FDA, the fillers and additives extend shelf life and help lower production costs. The ingredients to avoid include: Lactose, Magnesium Silicate, Titanium Dioxide, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Ascorbate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Cornstarch, Potassium Sorbate, Magnesium Stearate, Stearic Acid, Gelatin, Sulfites, Citric Acid, Carrageenan, Hydrogenated Oils, Soybean Oil, Artificial Colors.
In terms of fish oil and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, it is best to look for a product that is a pharmaceutical grade meaning that is distilled. The term is called molecularly distilled. You don’t necessarily need a prescription but it’s usually not the fish oil you’ll find at big box stores. Getting a fish oil that is molecularly distilled ensures that the heavy metals and pollutants from the sea are removed from the oil and will not be absorbed by your body. There are also two types of Omega 3 fatty acids, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). EPA protects the heart and musculoskeletal system while DHA protects the brain and nervous system. Most adults benefit from a daily dose of Omega 3 fatty acids anywhere between 2000mg-2500mg with a ratio of 2:1 (EPA to DHA). In children and babies, the daily dose is much lower and the ratio is different so that they get more DHA. This helps grow and support their developing brains and nervous systems.
Is it better to take your vitamins before or after you eat? Ideally the best time to take your supplements is before you eat. Taking your vitamins a few minutes before you eat helps your cells get the nutrients from your vitamins and minerals first before it begins to breakdown and digest any food you eat.
Toxicity can occur if levels of a particular vitamin or mineral are raised beyond the normal ranges. An example of this is potassium. A potassium imbalance in the body can be extremely detrimental. Even just a minor imbalance can cause a number of different issues with some of the major organ in the body, such as the heart. This is why it is important to try and get your nutrients from your diet as opposed to supplementing. If you are on any medications or taking over the counter medicine, check with your healthcare provider first before beginning any supplements to avoid any possible drug interactions. You may be advised to get bloodwork to determine which vitamins you need. This will help save money and prevent toxicity.
If you do plan to supplement, know this—not all supplements are created the same. Consider purchasing vitamins and minerals that are made from plants and whole foods. A quality vitamin won’t have any known harmful chemicals or fillers.