My friends and family will contest of my love for good quality supplements. The cabinets in my kitchen are lined with everything from Vitamin A to Zinc. Of course we know, the best way to consume nutrients is through a healthy diet instead of relying on supplements. However, studies show that even if you are eating a “healthy” diet, it’s nearly impossible to get all of your nutrients, vitamins and minerals from food.
“Large portions of the population had total usual intakes below the estimated average requirement for vitamins A (35%), C (31%), D (74%), and E (67%) as well as calcium (39%) and magnesium (46%). Only 0%, 8%, and 33% of the population had total usual intakes of potassium, choline, and vitamin K above the adequate intake when food and multivitamin use was considered. The percentage of the population with total intakes greater than the tolerable upper intake level (UL) was very low for all nutrients…”
The Standard American Diet fails to supply our bodies with the necessary nutrients that it needs. Below are some reasons explaining why…
- Commercial Farming. Land that is used year after year for commercial farming, will eventually lose it’s nutrients in the soil from over usage . The basis for healthy soil and what plants need for growth are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and and Potassium. When the soil becomes depleted of the necessary nutrients, fertilizers are then used to help the plants grow. Some research has found that synthetic nitrogen fertilizer application decreases soil’s microbiological diversity (that is, bacteria, fungi, etc.) or alters its natural microbiological composition. Excessive fertilizer use can also cause a buildup of salts in soil, heavy metal contamination and accumulation of nitrate (which is a source of water pollution and also harmful to humans). As a result of this, plants tend to have up to 75% less nutrients.
- Pesticides. Unless you grow your own fresh fruits and vegetables in a backyard garden which contains soil that you’ve treated with added organic minerals, you are at a huge risk for nutrient deficiency and exposure to harmful pesticides. Some studies show that glyphosate (also known as RoundUp) decreases nearly all soil organisms including beneficial bacteria and fungi that help maintain healthy soils. If that’s not enough, these pesticides are extremely toxic to humans and the environment. To read more about the effects of RoundUp, click here to read my post RoundUp Kills People, Not The Lawn.
- Transporting. Most plants are not harvested fresh, and the nutrients diminish as they often sit on airplanes, trucks, shelves, and counters for weeks before they arrive on your plate.
Now that we know why we may need to add certain supplements to your daily self-care routine, let’s find out what we need to look for when navigating through the hundreds of choices. Supplements are not regulated through the FDA so doing your research for the safest, highest quality brand really matters. Often, people will read or hear that, or instance, Turmeric is good for reducing inflammation and then immediately go purchase the first bottle they find at Wal-Mart. Be careful. As awareness grows of the benefits of supplements, so does cheap, mass production. ALWAYS research what you are putting into your body. You could do more harm than good while also wasting your money. Here are a few criteria when searching for supplements.
- If available, choose capsules over tablets. Tablets are pressed together very hard so the manufacture can put more ingredients in that small space. They are also cheaper to make than capsules. The downside is, tablets are much harder to digest. Again, they are so tightly packed and have more binders holding them together, it takes much longer for them to break down in the digestive system. A capsule, on the other hand, breaks down within just minutes of hitting your digestive tract. This is important because most of the nutrients in a supplement needs to be absorbed in your stomach. When a tablet takes too long to break down in the stomach and passes on to the intestinal tract, its content will be far less absorbed. In addition to added binders, tablets are made “shiny and easy to swallow” by being sprayed with coatings such as “pharmaceutical glaze (shellac) or coated with “vegetable protein” (a protein that is derived from GMO corn). No thank you!
- Choose products with a short ingredient list. Look past the front of the label and review the supplement facts chart and ingredients—that will give you an idea of what’s in the bottle and how much to take. It should also list the ingredients (including any fillers, binders, coatings/glazing, preservatives, colorings and artificial flavorings). Less is more when it comes to supplements. Below are 10 supplement fillers to always avoid. If any of these show up on the ingredient list of your supplement, it’s best to put it back on the shelf.
- Magnesium Stearate
- Sodium Benzoate
- Titanium Dioxide
- Silicone Dioxide
- Magnesium Silicate
- Soybean Oil
- Potassium Sorbate
- Citric Acid
- Buy non-GMO, organic and vegan when possible.
Remember, supplements are products designed to augment your daily intake of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Many are safe and offer significant health benefits, but there are some that pose health risks, especially if overused. Do your research before hand and be sure to advise your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take, as well as, any medications you are currently taking, whether they be pharmaceutical, over-the-counter, or herbal.
Ben Greenfield Fitness
Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash
Boundless, Ben Greenfield
What supplements do you take?