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Supplements: Friend or Foe?

Posted by     on November 10, 2015


Capsule bursting with natural ingredients

Supplements: Friend or Foe?

So you eat a healthy diet, take your one a day multi vitamin, and feel great. So why would you need to take any other supplements? And why on earth would you want to buy them from a Naturopath instead of Costco where you can get a five gallon bucket full for only $10? I know… life is hard! But let me break it down for you.

Eat Real Food!

Food is great. This is definitely the most important thing you can do for your body. Supplements cannot replace a good diet. But, something you have to realize is that the food in this country sucks ass! It’s the home of the free, the land of the brave and all in all a pretty cool place to live, but the tradeoff is that our food supply is becoming further and further from what real food once was. Even the ultra-aware paleo foodie can run into problems. Take out of the equation all the genetically modified nonsense and still, an organic apple today contains only a fraction of the nutrients it did 100 years ago. Our soil is depleted of nutrients. This means that our food, even if grown organic, cannot possibly be as nutrient dense as we need it to be! This is because it is grown in soil it is already deficient in nutrients.
So you eat great, but even then, you aren’t able to get all the nutrients your body requires for proper function. This compounds with another problem. You know that old saying, you are what you eat? Wrong! In real talk, you are what you eat, digest, and absorb! Pretty much most people’s guts are jacked up! Just sayin’… But this is why we need supplements! They are concentrated nutrient dense little tabs that can fulfil deficiencies we aren’t actually replenishing through our diet. And if the proper deficiencies are identified for you as an individual (enter NRT) your body can get healed up so your digestion process is able to get more out of your food and you then have to take fewer supplements!

Are all supplements are created equal?

Heck No! The short of the long of it is that over the counter supplements are mostly crap! Go look for a calcium supplement at Walgreens… You will find calcium carbonate as the calcium source in 80% of them. Well, it’s kind of a crime that they are even allowed to sell that form of calcium, since it is known to be almost completely un-absorbable to the human body. That’s right, you are pretty much paying to saturate your urine. So let’s say that the company does use a more absorbable form of calcium, like citrate or lactate. Then many of those companies use high heat to encapsulate them which pretty much destroys all the goodness that once was. I have given up on depending on FDA monitoring of over the counter supplements. Their regulations are so lax that substances approved for health can range from completely inactive to semi poisonous with no differentiation. 

Physician grade supplements go above and beyond!

These companies are reporting quality controls and absorbability to us Naturopaths and other holistic care providers that really care and understand nutrition. The quality of ingredients and absorbability are documented and recreated in each batch. In my practice I use a brand called Standard Process, which is inconveniently only distributed by physicians. But the stuff is great! They are created using organic foods! And processed using a super cool high vacuum, LOW heat system to preserve all the goodness. They take things like green buckwheat and suck out all the naturally occurring vitamin C (not just ascorbic acid) and squish it into an ultra-potent tablet. Who knew buckwheat was be such an amazing source of Vitamin C?!
When given supplements in the form of whole foods it is amazing the vast treatment profiles a single nutrient can have. For example the whole vitamin C complex, which differs greatly from what we see in stores, since they call ascorbic acid vitamin C. The whole food version is the actual nutrient we get when we eat an orange, broccoli, or buckwheat. This substance not only boosts the immune system. It can also help your body lay down new collagen to heal from micro and macro tissue injury, protect your cells from radiation, improve adrenal gland function, and on and on…

Synthetic Vitamins = Created in a lab

When looking at the synthetic over the counter version of vitamin C you only get ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is really only the outer protectant shell of the active vitamin C complex. It acts only to acidify your body and that’s it! It is like calling a hunk of silver a watch. The silver may be present in a watch but is certainly isn’t the part that provides any function to the whole object. Most of these lab made, synthetic vitamins are completely unrecognizable to our bodies.

The moral of the story

We know disease is linked to nutrient deficiencies. Scurvy is due to Vitamin C deficiency, rickets is a lack of Vitamin D, and anemia results from low iron. It makes you wonder why medical doctors don’t always begin treatment with a nutrition protocol before entering into the realm of pharmaceuticals. Well, I guess I’d be out of a job if they did. I believe all diseases begin with nutrient deficiencies. By fulfilling your body’s nutrient requirements, you are able to prevent disease. Supplements are our friends because we can no longer get all the nutrients needed from food alone. But remember, quality counts! Supplements need to be absorbed in the body to have an impact.  Always choose whole food over synthetic and if possible use a company that has known quality of manufacturing. This part can be hard so have your Naturopath help you. It may cost a couple bucks more but at least your investment will end up in your cells and not in the toilet!

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