Do I really need to take supplements?
The disturbing fact is that our food is not as nutritionally dense as it once was. Marlene Merritt, DOM, LAc, CAN spoke about this in her article in the September 2011 issue of Acupuncture Today. “Just because it looks like spinach doesn’t mean you’re getting its full nutritional value — it’s estimated that it takes 80 cups of spinach grown today to equal 1 cup grown 50 years ago.”
As another example, here is the amount of food you would have to consume to get the recommended 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin E every day from your diet:
|Wheat Germ (vitamin E fortified)||13.8||4.5|
|Almonds (dry roasted, without oil)||7.5||2.3|
|Spinach (cooked, boiled, drained w/o salt)||72.6||28.8|
(from Nutrition Today)
Obviously, no one has the capacity, much less the time, to eat that much food! Supplements are designed to provide advanced levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are difficult to obtain from diet alone – levels that individuals can use every day to promote a lifetime of good health.
But I get all of the recommended daily allowance of nutrients – why do I need to take a pill?
For more than 50 years, the general public has been led to believe that the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) nutrient levels are adequate; adequate to prevent clinically obvious nutritional deficiencies like scurvy, beriberi, rickets, and pellagra – diseases you don’t see any more, because we do tend to get the RDA from our diet. However, essentially, the RDA is the lowest level of nutrient intake necessary to prevent the deficiencies that cause malnutrition-based disease. This is clearly important for helping individuals avoid acute deficiency diseases, but it fails to address the issue of optimal nutrition. To feel your best, to grow a healthy baby, and to live life in good health, we all need optimal nutrition.
In June 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article by health researchers at Harvard University. The article “Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults” stated “Although vitamin deficiency is encountered infrequently in developed countries, inadequate intake of several vitamins is associated with chronic disease.” This means we are at risk for compromised immune systems, thyroid issues, and other problems that are associated with a lack of nutrition.
The USDA surveyed 16,000 Americans and found that not one person obtained 100% of essential nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin E, and zinc.1 Similarly, children and adolescents did not obtain enough essential nutrients such as folate, vitamin C, and calcium.2
I see I need a supplement, but how can I choose a supplement that will give me optimum health?
This question leads up to a real problem: most of the supplements on the market have one or more problems. Either they do not dissolve properly, or they are contaminated with pesticides or bacteria, or they are not potent enough to do you any good.
For example, in a recent study, researchers discovered that more than half (54%) of the nutritional supplements tested did not disintegrate properly. To be absorbed by the body, your supplement must dissolve properly.3 That means that more than half of the supplements taken pass right through your body without providing nourishment.
There are resources that can help you compare products. I have found an independent guide that compares 1,500 supplements, by manufacturer, on 18 different criteria. This resource answers questions such as: How bio-available is your supplement? Does it have toxic levels of vitamin A? Is it “whole” food sourced? Is it manufactured in a way that allows your body to absorb its nutrients? I use this resource to answer my patients’ questions concerning the supplements they take or are thinking of purchasing.
Health professionals can be swayed by supplement representatives making claims that whole food is best, liquid is best, etc., etc. That means your health professional may tell you to take a brand they have not personally researched. It’s better for you to satisfy yourself that the supplements you take are of the quality that you want.
One good idea is to look for pharmaceutical grade supplements. This way you can be assured of the quality in manufacturing and that what is on the label is actually in the product. Another good idea is to have your health care practitioner do blood work before you begin taking the supplements you choose. Then have it checked again after six months or so. Have your levels improved?
Are there any products you recommend?
I started this journey with my own personal experience, as many of us do. I used to take a food-based supplement yet felt exhausted all the time and caught a cold or two every winter. Then I discovered a high quality, pharmaceutical grade supplement (USANA) and experienced a world of difference. After several months on the USANA products, my patients started asking me if I had lost weight or commenting on how good my skin looks. It was so easy and natural to share the products with my patients as a result of my own experience with them.
A majority of my patients are using at least some of the products and experiencing the same fabulous results from reducing weight to increased energy and just a general sense of well being. I am so happy that I have finally found a nutritional supplement that I feel good about recommending.
What services do you provide?
Many of my patients come to me for advice in maintaining their good health. I coach them in all manner of healthy lifestyle habits, including nutritional supplements. I educate them about the differences in supplements and the importance of optimal nutrition. I help them change to a healthier lifestyle that enables them to lose the weight they have gained while pregnant. I talk to them about lifestyle choices that reduce the chances of infertility.
Please feel free to contact me for your wellness needs, for advice about losing pregnancy weight, and for information about feeling your best. I’ll be more than happy to use my resource guide to give you information with respect to the supplements you are currently taking or to discuss nutrition in general. If you’d like more information on the USANA products I recommend, just click the link that will take you to my USANA website, or continue reading below.
1. Nutrition Today
2. USDA nutrition Assistance Program Report Series CN01-CDI
3. J. Pharm Pharmaceut Sci (www.cspsCanada.org) 9(1):40 – 49
Feel and Look Your Best after Childbirth (an article I wrote for Natural Solutions Magazine)
USANA Health Sciences formulates exceptional, science-based nutritional and personal-care products. However, inferior manufacturing can destroy even the greatest product formulations. For this reason, USANA manufactures its own nutritional supplements, and voluntarily meets pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Pharmaceutical GMP standards are far more stringent than the food GMP requirements set by the U.S. government for supplements.
To adhere to the exacting standards of pharmaceutical GMP, and to ensure the quality of every product manufactured, USANA inspects all raw ingredients before they are mixed, tests the product during manufacturing, and performs a final analysis before any product is sent to the customer. USANA’s Quality Assurance team keeps track of every detail, from careful testing and evaluation of raw materials, to meticulous product shipping and storage. Visitors to USANA’s corporate headquarters can take a self-guided tour to see USANA’s manufacturing process firsthand.
For products that support your healthy lifestyle, please see my USANA website.
To learn more about losing pregnancy weight, read this article that I wrote for Natural Solutions Magazine: Feel and Look Your Best after Childbirth.
I am a Classical Five Element Acupuncturist and Certified Health Coach who has treated patients in the Bay Area since 2003. Get Your Health Coach Certification With Me.