Supplements – Friend, Foe, or Both?
Eighty percent of Americans use dietary supplements, most for overall health and wellness. The U.S. vitamin and supplement manufacturing industry is a staggering $35.6 billion as of 2022 and on the rise. Many questions come to mind, such as individual requirements, quality, our body’s reaction to synthetic ingredients, and dosing. Supplements can be both our friend and foe.
Our requirements for supplements
The chart below (not to scale) generalizes potential supplement requirements, not considering illness or chronic disease. This is more about food choices, sourcing, and lifestyle. It hypothesizes that if you want to be healthy and take as few supplements as possible, the food choices and lifestyle must be on point most of the time. Ultimately, even the best food choices will only provide some of the body’s needs.
The human body cannot create the nutrients it needs on its own. The nutritional need has historically come from food, but here is the problem.
- Today, most organic farm soils contain 2-4% organic matter when they should have 20% organic matter.
- Mineral depletion of the soil has been a concern since 1936.
- During the 20th century, 85% of all nutrients had been depleted from crop soils worldwide.
- At least 90 depleted essential nutrients, including 60 minerals and 16 vitamins, diminish the “the food we eat is all that we need” concept.
Our diets can no longer provide everything we need. Eating mounds of vegetables and megagrams of protein daily is unrealistic. For most, supplementation is required to bridge the gap needed to maintain foundational levels of health and wellness. The best way to assess your needs is to test your nutrient levels. Here are two of the most comprehensive tests on the market. Use the Q.P. Wellness contact form if you are interested in testing.
Quality of Supplements
Synthetic isolate vitamins: Most vitamins are made in a lab with synthetic ingredients. Let’s assume synthetic vitamins fill the nutrient gaps and minimize deficiencies. Are they safe long term? Synthetic vitamins are often made using industrial petrochemicals and solvents, which can raise the toxic load on the body. The body may not recognize the chemical nutrient and consider it a foreign body causing inflammation or an immune response. There are arguments on both sides. To see what is good for you, take one of the tests I mentioned above after some time on synthetics and then again after a while on food-based vitamins. Your body will give you the answer.
For example, synthetic vitamin C is created from corn starch that is broken down with heat, enzymes, acetone, and hydrochloric acid to make ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is found in nature in very small amounts as part of the complete complex of phytonutrients that all come together as food-based vitamin C. When taking ascorbic acid, the body must now search for other sources of rutin, bioflavonoids, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc to make vitamin C work optimally!
Take a look at my “go-to” trusted 100% food-based supplement source for over a decade. I provided a link to their catalog.
Sourcing and Manufacturing
Most supplements are manufactured in the US, but key ingredients can be sourced worldwide. Look for labels such as FDA-monitored cGMP (good manufacturing practices), non-GMO, gluten-free, heavy metal tested, screened for pathogens, and potency verified, to name a few, or take a look at their website. This is an excellent example of a quality-conscious company where the labels tell all. Click on the link to browse the line of supplements and/or register for an account. https://prlabs.com/customer/account/create/code/b1c2e2/
Vitamins are measured by:
- RDA (Recommended daily allowance) or DV (Daily Allowance) is the average daily intake sufficient to avoid deficiency in 97% of healthy individuals. Vitamin levels can exceed the RDA because most people can benefit from larger quantities of specific vitamins and minerals to optimize health, and it’s well known that a percentage of a vitamin is absorbed.
- Megavitamin therapy uses large doses of vitamins, greater than the RDA, to prevent or treat diseases. Megavitamin therapy is typically used in alternative medicine by practitioners who call their approach orthomolecular medicine. High levels are usually recommended for short durations and with a specific goal.
Absorption: Most vitamins and minerals are absorbed in the small intestine, but each requires its mechanism to cross the intestinal cell lining. For example, water-soluble vitamins require water for transport. Maintaining proper hydration can improve the body’s ability to absorb and transport these nutrients. Fat-soluble vitamins require fat to aid in their absorption. Consuming healthy fats when taking vitamins A, D, E, and K will help with proper absorption.
Both categories of vitamins need transporters found in the lining of intestinal cells to cross the cell membrane and enter the blood. Keeping the gut ecosystem balanced will maintain healthy intestinal cells to maximize the process of nutrient absorption.
Supplementation is a Science
If you are taking more than one supplement, please check for common ingredients and the maximum dosing as a collective, especially with fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K. Fat-Soluble Vitamins: A, D, E, and K – 9.315 – Extension.
Approaching your vitamin regimen from a less is more strategy will save dollars and overconsumption. You definitely don’t want to take several supplements that do the same thing. Overreaching can have adverse effects. If a maintenance dose of vitamin D is 4000iu, then taking more may not be better unless specified by a professional depending on your situation.
There is so much to write on this topic. I hope I have provided a few points to think about. Because of the increased need to bridge the gap between our food source, lifestyle, and maintaining a high level of health, supplementation is becoming necessary for optimal health and aging strong as we go through the life cycle.
Supplementation has become a science due to individual requirements and the variables involved. If you are interested in a comprehensive review of your supplement regimen, fill out the Q.P. Wellness contact form on my website.
At the end of the day, don’t hesitate to call any company with your questions.
To your health,
Doctor of Natural Medicine and Holistic Cancer Consultant
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. As a Board-Certified Doctor of Natural Medicine, I do not diagnose or treat disease, an area well attended by licensed physicians. Instead, I identify healing opportunities within the body. Once identified, function and health may be restored by correcting the underlying causes and conditions of health challenges. Rebalancing the body’s systems can be a proven stabilizer adjunctive to medical protocols. Everyone is an individual, and not all recommendations may be appropriate. Exercise due diligence and consult your physician before using alternative concepts or protocols.
Disclosure: Wholesale relationships: Doctors Research and Premier Labs