To Supplement or To Not Supplement? That is the Question.
One question I often get from my clients is whether to take supplements.
This is a tricky topic as there many different opinions from multiple sources.
If you listened to marketers as well as some popular personalities promoting health (who benefit from the sale of the products they endorse) you would think that you could live forever if you take their products.
It’s tempting to run out and purchase pills that promise youth, weight loss, good skin, eternal heart health, perfect digestion, low cholesterol and cancer protection.
I mean who would not want to take a pill that could do all these things?!
But it’s important to do your homework before sinking lots of money into supplements.
The jury is still out as to whether supplements help…at all.
When I was diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago I visited a naturopath.
I was desperate to live and beat the cancer so I fought my diagnosis on multiple levels and that included seeking out the opinion of a naturopath on how to boost my immune system.
I was lucky in that this naturopath took a measured approach.
I was on chemo so he made sure to prescribe supplements that did not reduce the effectiveness of the drugs I was taking.
And he suggested over and over again that the most important thing I could do for myself was to learn how to relax. I suspect that advice alone – if followed – was more potent than any supplement I could ever take! (I am still working on it! Hot yoga helps!)
But I followed his supplement regimen and continue to take most of the supplements he prescribed to this day.
Over the years I have tinkered and experimented with his original prescription but I always come back to his balanced approach: a multi-vitamin, vitamin D drops, fish oil and a probiotic. (I also take a supplement called methylfolate for a genetic mutation called MTHFR – but I will save that discussion for another day!)
In my mind, when it comes to supplements, less is more.
Here are my own rules when it comes to supplements. Use what works for you!
1. Do your own research. Do what you can to learn why experts say it’s important to take Vitamin D and fish oil and probiotics. Don’t just take a supplement because you “heard” it’s a good thing to take.
2. Not all supplements are created equal. If you are going to take supplements do not rely on sub-par brands you can find in your local drugstore. I’ve learned this hard way by trying to save money and purchasing products that give me nothing but a stomach ache.
3. Supplements are not a substitution for a balanced diet and proper nutrition. That is why they are called “supplements”! Food is medicine. Think nutrition first – get your vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein by eating colorful produce and organic grains and meats.
4. Listen to your body to determine if a supplement is helping. If you feel better when you take a certain supplement you know it’s helping! I feel more energetic in the winter when I take Vitamin D. My digestion is much improved when I take probiotics (and I have researched enough to know that this supplement is crucial for immune health. It’s the one supplement I will take forever!) My cholesterol levels stay in check when I take a high quality fish oil. And I get fewer colds when I take a multi-vitamin.
If you are curious about supplements and want more information I would highly suggest checking out a Super Supplements (www.supersup.com). They often have naturopaths on staff and they are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. The company also sells very high quality products at different price points. It’s a great place to start.
My personal favorite place to purchase supplements is www.seekinghealth.com. This is a small on-line business started by a Bastyr University trained naturopath in Bellingham. I have found the Seeking Health products to be top quality and the website is full of helpful information.
I have no affiliation with either Super Supplements or Seeking Health! I simply want to help you find high quality products if you do decide to take supplements. My mission as a Wellness and Weight Coach is to help you prioritize your health, feel good and live well!