What you probably didn’t know……..
When I began my journey to better health, I started with supplements. They worked so well for a couple of issues I had that I became highly motivated to research, and research some more. I can’t begin to count all the hours I have put in to learning about supplements over the many years and I continue to do so to this day.
Not only was I learning but I was using myself as a tester. I went thru a lot of various brands over the years, always striving for better quality.
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While researching a supplement there are two things that are important to me. 1. When at all possible and sensible, I prefer a whole food vitamin that is organic, non GMO, and easily digested. 2. A reputable company. I like to see a smaller company that has real focus on quality rather than having a hundred different products. Not always the case but it’s something I always look into.
I say sensible because (as an example) Vitamin C is one that can be found in whole food form but may not be a sensible choice for some of us, because of the small number of milligrams per tablet or capsule. They just can’t get enough in there. If we were to try to take 3000 mg a day of a whole food version we would be taking numerous pills and spending a whole lot of money that most of us cannot afford. There is the argument that you get a lot more absorption rate from the whole food version. I believe that is true but it’s hard to know just how much that adds up to be. It boils down to a personal choice and what your pocket book can stand.
When it comes to minerals and some other supplements it’s important to me to read the ingredient labels and look for the least amount of chemical additives. You might be shocked to see so much “junk” that is added to a slew of supplements lining the shelves of the grocery and pharmacy.
Seriously people.. Read the ingredient labels on some of this stuff. Here is the ingredient list on one of the most popular brands of a Vitamin/mineral supplement on the market today: (note: This is a typical, lab made supplement) Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Dibasic Calcium Phosphate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Ferrous Fumarate, dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E), Pregelatinized Corn Starch. Contains < 2% of: Beta-Carotene, BHT (to retard Oxidation), Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Cholecalciferol (Vit. D3), Chromium Picolinate, Corn Starch, Crospovidone, Cupric Sulfate, Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12), Folic Acid, Gelatin, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Magnesium Borate, Magnesium Stearate, Maltodextrin, Manganese Sulfate, Niacinamide, Nickelous Sulfate, Phytonadione (Vit. K), Polyethylene Glycol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Metavanadate, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenate, Stannous Chloride, Talc, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Titanium Dioxide, Tocopherols (to retard oxidation), Vitamin A Acetate, Yellow 6 Lake, Zinc Oxide.
What the heck is a lot of that stuff and why do we need yellow dye, gelatin etc..?? I always hate to see Magnesium Stearate. No, that is not some form of good magnesium. Lots of supplement companies, even those making synthetic supplements – have been doing away with the magnesium stearate.
Not every company is well versed in “formulating” a good supplement such as a multi vitamin. Some don’t really offer the optimal nutrition we need because they use low quality ingredients that are of little benefit. However, they may dump BIG $$$ into fancy advertising that often works miracles to get the folks buying in droves. But, do we really want to be spending our hard earned money on products that may be doing little to nothing for us?
RDA (recommended daily allowance)
Sure, they may meet the government’s RDA guidelines, but that doesn’t mean they are using quality nutrients that your body can easily absorb rather than just pass it on out.
RDA (recommended daily allowance) recommend levels of micro nutrients (vitamin and mineral) for people in various categories based on sex, age, and certain health conditions like pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The RDA – in my opinion – is a joke, to put it frankly. First off – everyone is different. You can’t lump everyone into categories and assume they all need the same amount of various vitamins and minerals. That doesn’t even make sense. Even when adding in variables for some health conditions, it still makes no sense. Example: two different pregnant women living two totally different lifestyles, eating totally different diets can in no way come up with the same recommendations for vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin C is a good example. The RDA is only 60 mg and that might be enough to prevent scurvy. Nearly anyone with a background in nutrition and/or supplements will suggest -at least – 1,000 to 2,000 mg daily — to battle the free radical damage that is involved with a plethora of illness and disease. Personally I take a minimum of 3000 mg a day and much more at times. Examples might be going out into a public setting around a lot of people who may pass around a cold or flu. Cold and flu season. Stressful times as our bodies can quickly deplete us of needed nutrients during these times. And anytime I might feel that little “tickle” of a possible, oncoming cold, flu or infection.
Unless we do our own research or rely on someone who does, few of us know what we are getting (for sure) within our purchased vitamins.
With herbal supplements I, again, look for organic, non GMO and a company I feel comfortable with.
I cannot tell you what you need to take because everyone is different, we all have different health issues to address. We all have various vitamin and mineral deficiencies. While one person needs high doses of some things, another may need less of those same things and more of something else.
While still in practice I did assessments for clients. Combining that with their diet changes – we came up with a good plan of action regarding their supplemental program. I highly suggest seeking a good Nutritionist and/or Naturopathic Doctor – for guidance.
There are a great many reasons for supplementation. Even if we feel we eat healthy, we are still, generally deficient in several areas. There is also the fact that some vitamins and/or minerals do not work well without other specific vitamins and minerals. It’s a big topic that I will not go into here and now but I did write a lot about it in my book: “Breaking Free of the Medical Matrix (a guide).” and I believe you might benefit a great deal from all the information I have compiled into this book as it goes into detail, not only about supplements, but our health as a whole.
What I can do is offer a list that nearly everyone could benefit from taking. A basic supplement list might be: Multi vitamin, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin D3, magnesium, omega 3, and if over 30, CoQ10.
Here’s what I take daily. Whole food Multi Vitamin- Whole food Vitamin B complex- Vitamin B12 on top of the complex- Vitamin C- Krill oil (omegas)- CoQ10- Vitamin D3 with K2 liquid drops and Magnesium (note: I don’t use mag citrate. I use a brand called Triple Calm with 3 other forms of Magnesium.)
On top of that I also take 500mg each of Cayenne , Garlic and Turmeric, every day. There are other herbals, oils, and mixtures I take at various times for various reasons because each of us is different with different needs. I will, once again, stress the idea of seeking guidance from a Nutritional Counselor and/or a Naturopathic Doctor.
Linda Carlson – Certified Nutrition & Wellness Counselor (retired) with 25+ years background.
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3 thoughts on “Supplements 101”
Great and very informative article! It’s so hard to know if the vitamins we’re getting are really worthwhile or not. Thank you for the Top 10 list as well, very helpful.
As a teenager I was treated by a naturopath and it was life-changing. Between an elimination diet and various tests, as well as selected supplements, after about a year I gained energy and weight (I was very underweight because I couldn’t digest anything.) Now, many years later I stick to the Progressive brand and take a daily multivitamin (Progressive brand, for active women), Vitamin D with fish oil, and a Calcium Supplement. So far, so good!
I always feel overwhelmed trying to figure this stuff out. I agree that we should do our research, but I’ve got other things filling my time so I am very grateful for people like you (and my mama) who do this research and share your findings with me.