Supplements… always a subject of debate. I’m going to get into The Big 5 just about everyone should be taking in a bit, but let’s start off with some of the common questions: Do we need them? Do they work? Are they safe? Shouldn’t we get most of our nutrients from food?
OK let’s start with the first question… Do we need supplements?
Firstly, that depends on your goal and what you’re content with in your life in regards to your health. For general health and wellness, “need” is still a strong term, but for optimal health, in today’s day and age, I’m going to go there and say you need to be taking supplements. Fact is, our soil ain’t what it used to be and therefore our food doesn’t carry the the nutrients it used to either. You can be eating all the right things, and still be down on what your body wants from you.
How about this… 33% of children aged 6-19 are overweight or obese. So they’re getting plenty of “food” in their diet. However, 90% do not meet their basic daily nutrient requirements for vegetables. 75% do not meet their daily fruit requirement. They’re getting the food, but they’re not getting the nutrients! Us adults are not immune to this problem either.
Sure, we can try and up fruit and veg intake, up everyone’s fruit and veg intake, and we should do that, we should never stop trying. Education and change is important… but realistically, how many of us in this day and age are going to go to the time and effort to get to get 7-9 servings of fruit and veg per day? We seem to be getting busier and busier and food is getting more and more convenient, it’s so easy to forego good quality wholefoods and cooking. Add in asking people to opt for organic/wild produce and it becomes an even bigger stretch. We have to be realistic in our expectations, and this is why supplements are needed, to fill those holes that almost everyone has.
Ok, so that was a double whammy, we covered two questions in one, we’re on a roll Next up, do supplements work?
Yes. You pick the right supplements, and boy do they work. Let’s look at an omega-3 as an example. A recent study (Nov. 2018) published in the New England Journal Of Medicine - one of the worlds premier CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE publications - studied the effects of omega-3 supplementation on cardiovascular disease. So this is not from some alternative, naturopathic, quack, woo woo medical journal that people always like to pick on and discredit, this is coming from conventional medicine. This study included 25,000+ people, which is a significant sample size. What they found is that there is an almost 30% reduction in heart attacks in the group supplementing with fish oil, compared to the placebo group… 30%… in heart attacks, the leading cause of death… that is massively significant. That’s compared to the placebo group too! Placebo groups will usually experience some benefits based purely on the placebo effect, so it’s plausible to think that 30% reduction could be even higher compared to a control group taking nothing. This is not some quack science. This is published in the New England Journal of Medicine! Even the conventional medicine sector which tends to shy away from this sort of stuff is on board here. This is real.
So far, I think i’d be leaning towards that supplements work, but let’s look at another example using omega-3 again. Studies and clinical data have shown that if we can keep omega-3 saturation levels at 9% in the blood, there is a 90% reduction in heart attacks… 90 FREAKING PERCENT! Let that sink in for a moment A 90% reduction, in the leading cause of death, via something entirely in your control. To link back to the need for supplements, the worrying thing is, almost NO ONE tests in the optimal range for omega-3 levels. Unless you’re eating sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout, anchovies 3-4x a week regularly, you’re going to be deficient in omega-3s, and you can benefit from omega-3 (fish oil) supplementation. The fact that such a large majority of people are deficient, the amazing results mentioned above have such a huge potential to affect change if we can educate people properly.
Ok, I think we can say supplements work. Last question: Are supplements safe?
I’m going to share some scary facts here. I’m going to highlight the safety of supplements by comparing them to prescription/pharmaceutical drugs. Pharmaceuticals are considered anywhere from the No. 1-3 cause of death in the US with 125,000 + deaths per year (preventable deaths). The reason why I gave a range of 1-3 is because those 125,000+ deaths are from patients taking the CORRECT, prescribed amount. You could likely consider that number to near double for taking the wrong amount.
Adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs are 62,000x more likely to cause death than vitamin/mineral supplements… and 7,750x more likely than herbal remedies.
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about the safety of supplements from that information. Now we still have to be smart and careful with supplements, we simply can’t go giving anything to anyone and think it will be A OK. Many clients seeking help from supplements will already be on some kind of medication and we need to be aware of potential interactions and dangers there.
This has gone on a bit longer than I expected so I’m going to have a Part 2 where I give the Big 5 supplements everyone should be taking. Hopefully I didn’t waffle on too long though and you still found this post informative and can take something away from it. We learned that supplements are needed for optimal health and that food is most likely not going to be enough for most people. We showed that supplements do work, and that they are certainly relatively safe.
All you have to do is keep your eyes peeled for Part 2, or subscribe to the blog to be notified when it or any new posts go live. It’s 4 Your Health.
Can be clinically sub-optimal but not “deficient” on any blood work.
Take to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of essential nutrients to function properly
Nutrient absorption can often decline after 50 (iron exception). Stomach acid and hence bile declines and enzymes as well.
Whole food should come first, but often not enough.
1. Multi Vitamin and Mineral 100% RDI - Everyone can benefit, methylated versions, functional medicine versions.
2. Omega 3 - unless eating wild fish 3-4 times a week, clinically based. Sardines, anchovies, mackeral, wild salmon, trout. Tuna too but mercury. 3:1 o6 to o3 good. Talk to doc if taking anti-coagulant. 2-3g a day. Helps greatly with inflammation, inflammation linked to 90% disease.
3. Magnesium - go into benefits, most people deficient. 0-1-2. Avoid MgO. 400-500mg a day or more for larger individuals or high BP. Extra at night for people with specific sleep problems, citrate powder.
4. B vitamins - Activated B50 Complex. 0-1-0 cos they give energy. Benefits (stress). Sub lingual B12 1000mg if extra support needed (age/energy/stress)
5. Vitamin D - 50-80 ng/mL. Caveat higher dose of vitamin D without a multi can lead to hyper calcemic, calcium in arteries. 35 IUs per lb bodyweight. If maintain tan in summer may not even need. 4000 IU per day.
Don’t post if not practising what preach.