Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Thoughts on Supplementation

In an ideal world, we would get all our nutrients from our well-balanced, mostly plant-based, organic, highly-nutritious diets.

This, unfortunately, is not an ideal world.
I'm not sure this one works on humans, though.

We are a society based off of overly-processed "convenience" foods, and one which makes the worst kinds of foods the most affordable. We have crazy schedules that tend to keep us from eating the way we should, and stress hormones, carbonated beverages, and such leach nutrients from our bodies and keep us from absorbing everything we should be. But even those of us who eat healthfully have problems-- the soil is depleted, and labeling is confusing. So while I strongly feel that supplementation shouldn't be necessary, I also believe that in most cases, it unfortunately is.

So the question is, are all supplements created equal? ABSOLUTELY NOT. First of all, they are not all absorbed properly. A while back, ConsumerLabs did a pretty extensive report on which vitamins and minerals pass various tests (it even includes pet vitamins). Since the website requires membership, I will be posting the results of their tests in another discussion for your review.

Secondly, synthetic nutrients are simply not absorbed by the body the same way natural nutrients are. The problem here is that "natural" means absolutely nothing as far as the FDA is concerned. You can call pretty much anything "all natural" and the product will be like nothing found in nature. (the logic being, I guess, that it all started from nature at some point, right?). So you really can't go by the "all natural" label. And not all food-based vitamins are equal, either-- quality differs from brand to brand (as you will see in the Consumer Labs report).

Does this mean that synthetic vitamins are all bad? No, not necessarily. They definitely come in handy in emergency situations, and for many nutrients, they provide a cheap, easy source for supplementation.

My own personal verdict on the supplementation issue is that Ideally, you want to have supplements that are whole-food based, organic, and possibly raw (so that they have gone through minimal processing). I personally take a greens supplement (you can never have enough greens), a reservatrol supplement (heart disease runs in my family), a berry supplement (for inflammation reduction-- inflammation is one of the biggest precursors to disease in the body), an immune boost supplement made from "superfruits" (I work with people all day long), a reishi and cordyceps mushroom supplement (they're just really good for you) and a rice and pea protein drink that is extremely nutrient dense due to the quantity of whole vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, and other whole foods in it. All of these are in powder form, so I just put most of these in a big shake with unsweetened almond milk for breakfast. This works well for me. Every body is different. Do the research and find what works best for you.
I also take a vegetarian CoQ10 supplement, digestive enzymes to help make the most of my food, and a transdermal magnesium supplement. Oral magnesium doesn't tend to absorb well, and oral magnesium supplements tend to give people diarrhea (wheee). Transdermal magnesium absorbs well and doesn't have those side effects. A large percentage of people tend to be deficient in magnesium. I had eye and elbow twitches for several months and muscle cramping that made me suspect that I was one of those people. Within a few days of taking the transdermal magnesium, my twitches stopped, and after 2 months, my cramps had improved significantly. So I'm definitely a supporter.

Any thoughts on supplementation? Post them here!

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