Dietitians still say that you should get your nutrition from healthy food, yet we are told that over 70% of Americans use some form of nutrient supplementation. Drug stores, health food stores, and grocery stores have an ever increasing number of bottles that promise to be the magic elixir for whatever ails you. Internet claims for this and that wonder nutrient entice and confuse and tempt us to spend our hard earned money in search of perfect health. It does seem that we, as a nation, are getting sicker and sicker. Statistics tell us that 3 out of every 4 Americans will get heart disease and 2 out every 4 will die from it. Diabetes and obesity is more and more common, even in children. Depression, anxiety, and fatigue affect over 50% of the population. The advice of medical “experts” to limit fat, and to eat a grain based diet is not working, so people are searching for solutions.
Ideally, we should be able to get the nutrition we need from the food we eat. That used to be possible, but large commercial farming methods, food manufacturing processes, and the ability to ship food around the world has damaged the food supply and depleted the nutrients that we consume. In an attempt to make up for the adulteration of the food supply, (and very poor advice from food manufacturing companies), people are trying to get their nutrients from a bottle and even that is not supplying the health they desire.
Yes, we all need supplements. So what kind of supplements do we buy? There are basically three kinds of products, whole food, synthetic, and fractionated crystalline vitamins.
Whole food supplements are basically the whole food with the water and fiber removed. Ideally they are processed below 112 degrees so that the enzymes are still alive. They contain all the factors needed to supply nutrition to our cells. Most vitamins from the drug store are synthetic – that is – they are chemically manufactured and do not have any of the co-factors necessary for the body to use the “vitamin”. Crystalline or fractionated vitamins are extracted from whole foods with solvents and heat which destroys most of the enzymes and co-factors. The first problem with these last two products is that they can create nutritional deficiencies as the body supplies the co-factors and enzymes needed to metabolize the vitamin. Another issue is that they are processed as toxins in the liver. They can also work as stimulants, so you will often feel good when first taking these products, but they will eventually stop working and will produce deficiencies. One company that has produced high-quality, whole food supplements for over 75 years is Standard Process. They are only distributed through health professionals, so in order to find a provider in your area; you will need to contact the company. There are other manufacturers of whole food supplements but they tend to be much more expensive. For more information on supplements, Why Do I Need Whole Food Supplements? By Lorrie Medford, C.N. is a concise and excellent summary. You can also take a look at the Standard Process website, for information about the company and specific supplements.
Yes, we need supplements, but without the foundation of a healthy diet you will never achieve good health. Also, there are some “superfoods” that we can use to maximize our health in addition to a healthy diet and to minimize reliance on supplements. Some of these are:
- Flaxseed – an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber. It is better to buy whole flaxseed and grind it, in a coffee grinder or blender. The extracted oil or the flax meal will go rancid quickly. Flaxseed has a pleasant, nutty taste. You can use it in smoothies, or sprinkled on salad or sandwiches.
- Fermented foods – traditional foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, and yogurt help digestion by supplying lot of beneficial enzymes and other nutrients
- Herbs – both wild herbs and garden herbs supply a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Used in foods, teas, cosmetics or medicines, they are a fascinating study and so beneficial to our health.
- Cod Liver Oil – a source of Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D, traditionally cod liver oil was the universal remedy.
- Coconut oil – contains lots of healing medium chain fatty acids. It is one of the best cooking oils and is used in baking and cosmetics.