How effective (productive) are Supplements?

Taking supplements may seem to be effective – expecially in the beginning – but that doesn’t mean that they are being productive.  Granted you will have certain effects from a particular supplement, however that doesn’t mean that they are good for your overall health, especially long-term.

Supplements are islotated forms of processed vitamins or minerals that need other nutrients to digest properly.  Whenever we isolate and/process any nutrient we need to be aware that we are creating imbalances that are not present in nature.  Not only are you, in essence, throwing your money down the (digestive) drain, but you are probably causing more harm than good by creating hormone, as well as, digestive and other imbalances.

“Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.”

It is difficult to determine what supplements we need, let alone what dosage level would be necessary.   While there are some medical doctors who are continuing to advance their learning in the nutrition field, most medical doctors cannot tell you what nutritional imbalances you may have or what food(s) you need to correct those imbalances.

There are those who are trained to perform mineral analysis and other tests to determine other forms of depletions we may have.  While these may be helpful, the treatment should not be to chuck down myriads of supplements to try to compensate for these depletions.  It is best to eat a variety of wholesome foods that contain wholesome vitamins & minerals in their natural balanced form.

I’m sorry, people….nothing…I mean, nothing replaces good nutritional food to build immunity, provide energy and eliminate symptoms while it heals your body.  Supplements by pure definition are not food – even those that are made from so-called natural ingredients.

A little disclaimer—-natural enzymes are necessary for proper digestion (which is why we shouldn’t be eating processed foods).  Since the current SAD (Standard American Diet) has helped deplete our body’s supply of enzymes it might be helpful to take natural enzymes in a supplemental form.

Also I don’t consider herbs or spices (like ginger, garlic, cayenne, turmeric, etc.) to be supplements.  These provide micro-nutrients that are very helpful for digestion and aid in the treatment of many other ailments, especially inflammation.

I also believe that essential oils can be very beneficial.  Care should be taken to achieve correct information on dosage & usage.

Harvard’s Health Watch

Dietary Supplements

What you need to know before taking a vitamin or mineral supplement.

“The average American diet leaves a lot to be desired. Research finds our plates lacking in a number of essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and D. It’s no wonder that more than half of us open a supplement bottle to get the nutrition we need. Many of us take supplements not just to make up for what we’re missing, but also because we hope to give ourselves an extra health boost—a preventive buffer to ward off disease.

Getting our nutrients straight from a pill sounds easy, but supplements don’t necessarily deliver on the promise of better health. Some can even be dangerous, especially when taken in larger-than-recommended amounts.

Here’s the big caveat: many of those exciting supplement studies were observational—they didn’t test a particular supplement against a placebo (inactive pill) in a controlled setting. The results of more stringent randomized controlled trials haven’t yielded the same good news.

“Often the enthusiasm for these vitamins and supplements outpaces the evidence. And when the rigorous evidence is available from randomized controlled trials, often the results are at odds with the findings of the observational studies,” explains Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and principal investigator of a large randomized trial known as VITAL (Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial).

Because observational studies may not fully control for dietary factors, exercise habits, and other variables, they can’t prove whether the treatment is responsible for the health benefits. “People who take supplements tend to be more health conscious, exercise more, eat healthier diets, and have a whole host of lifestyle factors that can be difficult to control for fully in the statistical models,” Dr. Manson says.

Some supplements that were found to have health benefits in observational studies turned out, with more rigorous testing, to be not only ineffective but also risky. Vitamin E, which was initially thought to protect the heart, was later discovered to increase the risk for bleeding strokes. Folic acid and other B vitamins were once believed to prevent heart disease and strokes—until later studies not only didn’t confirm that benefit but actually raised concerns that high doses of these nutrients might increase cancer risk.

How to get your nutrients

We need a variety of nutrients each day to stay healthy, including calcium and vitamin D to protect our bones, folic acid to produce and maintain new cells, and vitamin A to preserve a healthy immune system and vision.

Yet the source of these nutrients is important. “Usually it is best to try to get these vitamins and minerals and nutrients from food as opposed to supplements,” Dr. Manson says.

Fruits, vegetables, fish, and other healthy foods contain nutrients and other substances not found in a pill, which work together to keep us healthy. We can’t get the same synergistic effect from a supplement. Taking certain vitamins or minerals in higher-than-recommended doses may even interfere with nutrient absorption or cause side effects.

Food sources of nutrients

Nutrient Food sources
Calcium Milk, yogurt, sardines, tofu,

fortified orange juice

Folic acid Fortified cereal, spinach,

lentils, beef liver

Iron Oysters, chicken liver, turkey
Omega-3

fatty acids

Salmon, sardines, flaxseed,

walnuts, soybeans

Vitamin A Sweet potato, spinach, carrots,

cantaloupe, tomatoes

Vitamin B6 Chickpeas, salmon,

chicken breast

Vitamin B12 Clams, beef liver, trout,

fortified breakfast cereals

Vitamin D Salmon, tuna, yogurt,

fortified milk

Vitamin E Wheat germ oil, almonds,

sunflower seeds, peanut butter

Judging supplements

Before you take any supplements for disease prevention, it’s important to know whether the potential benefits outweigh the risks. To make that conclusion, you need to look at the results of well-designed studies. A recent randomized trial in men suggested multivitamins have possible benefits for cancer prevention. For many of the other popular supplements, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, results from randomized controlled trials should be available within the next five years, according to Dr. Manson.

Until then, be judicious about your use of supplements. If you’re lacking in a particular nutrient, ask your doctor whether you need to look beyond your diet to make up for what you’re missing—but don’t take more than the recommended daily intake for that nutrient unless your health care provider advises it.”

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