Supplementation is probably the topic I get asked about the most. Should I supplement? What should I be taking? And my answer always is…it depends.
Supplements have the potential to be a giant waste of money. Frequently, people start taking a supplement because they saw something on TV or heard positive benefits from a friend or co-worker.
There are a few problems with this:
1. Every BODY is different and your body may be using certain vitamins or minerals more or less rapidly than the person next to you. Your needs will be different.
2. Not all supplements are created equal. Some brands are undoubtedly better than others.
3. What’s made in a lab will never be equal to what you get in nature.
So, who should consider taking supplements?
1. Generally healthy people who are under an increased amount of stress. Stress depletes vitamin stores in the body, particularly the B vitamins, and since these are water soluble it is generally safe to take a B-complex daily.
2. People who have been ill or are recovering from surgery. The body needs extra support during this time to support rapid healing.
3. People who are dieting or limited diets due to allergies. This group will likely be missing the recommended daily intake amounts for each nutrient due to a limited food intake.
4. People who consume large amounts of sugar because sugar is a nutrient depleting substance.
5. People who smoke or are exposed to second hand smoke regularly. Antioxidant therapy is generally beneficial for this group due to the increase of free radicals in the body.
I believe in short term supplementation. Feel a cold coming on? Take a vitamin C supplement to give your body extra support to fight off the virus, but if you are eating a well-rounded diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables, your need for supplementation will be minimal if at all.
If you do feel the need to take extra vitamins and minerals, here are a few tips:
1. Try to find a supplement in liquid, powder, or liquid gel cap form. These are best absorbed.
2. Take your supplements with or just after food.
3. Research your supplements so that you know the best time of day to take them. Some act as stimulants and are best avoided after lunchtime.
4. Avoid generic brands, commonly found at drug or grocery stores. Buy better quality products from your local health food store. The people that work in these stores are typically well educated on the different products.
5. Consult a nutritional practitioner for an individualized supplementation program.
*Special note: do not begin taking an iron supplement unless it has been recommended and is being supervised by a medical or naturopathic doctor. Iron toxicity can occur quickly in those who do not need the supplement.