The supplement industry is a trillion dollar industry. Each company that makes a supplement claims that theirs is the best. With so many to choose from and so man claiming they are the best, what do you do? Hopefully this guide to supplements will help your decision making.
1. Remember it’s a Supplement.
I think in the world of supplements, people often forget that supplements are designed to SUPPLEMENT what you eat. Supplements are based on the premise that you’re filling in the gaps between what you do eat and what you should eat. Often times, people have it reversed. They start with the supplements and then fill the gap with what they are eating. Eat first, supplement second.
2. Start with the Basics.
When you decide to start supplementing, start first with ones that are based on what the human genetic code requires. You know the body requires certain vitamins, minerals, and fats. Start with supplements that provide vitamins, minerals, and fats. These are the ones that aren’t that sexy. They aren’t the latest and greatest herb or isolated antioxidant. These are based on food and should come from food.
If you pick up a multi-vitamin or multi-mineral, the label should look more like a food label with the ingredients listed than isolate forms that were picked and chosen from all different sources.
Sure an apple has certain vitamins and minerals but what you can’t account for is the synergistic effect of the apple as a whole. You can’t isolate the thousands of phytonutrients and antioxidants from the larger vitamins and minerals. They all work together and when you keep them together, they provide a larger impact than just the sum of its parts.
Same thing with a fish oil. The fish oil content should be just like if you picked up a fish and squeezed it. You’ll see fish oil supplements that have an altered EPA and DHA fat content. The manufacturer did this to make it look unique, sexy, and make it proprietary. If it’s altered, it’s not fish. It’s some human form of franken-fish.
With that said, I like to start people on an EPA:DHA Omega 3 and a whole food based supplement. My supplements of choice are from Innate Choice for the fish oil and Juice Plus for the whole food based supplement. Both the fish oil and Juice Plus have product labels that look like a food label.
Something really unique about Juice Plus is that they have a children’s program where kids ages 4 through college can get the product for free for 4 years, when they have an ‘adult’ (anyone over 13 years old) sponsor. In other words, it’s a buy one, get one free deal. Your only requirement is that you have to answer some very easy, anonymous surveys every few months. They are tracking how people’s lifestyles are changing when adding a simple step like a whole food based supplement. Questions revolve around lifestyle decisions like, ‘do you eat more fruits and veggies? or is your kid missing less days at school?’
Another cool thing about Juice Plus is that they have put their own time and money to do clinical research on their products. It’s rare to find any supplement company that does this. Most supplement companies, even the other ones I recommend for specifics are using borrowed research. There was research somewhere done on a specific nutrient and they use that research to support their product. Juice Plus looks at their specific product, not borrowed research from any ingredient in their product.
Cool facts about Innate Choice is that they only make the basic necessities. They have the highest standard for their products that I have seen from a purity standpoint and make sure they are all 3rd party tested and validated for purity or they discontinue the product.
There’s 2 others that I would consider essential and part of your basics when starting to supplementing or cutting back to the basics.
Vitamin D is an essential hormone in the body produced from sun exposure. The problem is that media and Big Pharma has demonized sun exposure when nothing could be further from the truth. As a result, I see more and more vitamin D deficiency when I run lab panels on people. Another problem is that Vitamin D has a conversion pathway that has to pass through the liver, kidneys, and DNA. With our daily toxic load, sometimes it’s not the exposure or consumption of Vitamin D but the conversion.
We use one from either Innate Choice or Thorne. Thorne is less expensive.
Probiotics are my 4th basic essential to start when supplementing. There should be 10 beneficial, symbiotic bacteria to every 1 human cell. In essence, we’re more bug than we are human. Again, since the advent of antibiotics, anything resembling a germ, bacterial, or bug has been demonized and we have dropped the antimicrobial A bomb on our food supply, cleaning products, and now even clothing.
Companies are coming around but there are still things to look for. Make sure it’s free of wheat, gluten, corn, soy, yeast, dairy, and anything artificial. It’s estimated that we should have 30,000 different species of bugs in our gut. Prior to agriculture we got these bugs from eating off the land, before we had dairy, before we had pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and nutricides (a word I just made up to categorize farming practices that don’t replenish nutrient content of soils or focus on mono-cropping).
There were bugs on virtually everything we ate. Some were harmful but the great majority were not. When looking for a probiotic, look for one that has many different strains and is from a vegetarian source. My family and I use the Innate Choice one.
If you are doing those 4 and are consistently doing it and still not experiencing that level of health you desire, then I’m a proponent of looking to your biochemistry to see what needs support.
Though humans are virtually identical genetically, our life experiences are not. Starting with the basics, on top of a pure and sufficient lifestyle, should satisfy the requirements of your DNA. The problem is that due to our life experiences, this can shift what systems need more support. This plays into the phenotype of your DNA (the expression).
You and I are are 99.9% genetically identically identical. The 0.1% is what makes us unique. This is what is known as your phenotype, how your DNA is expressed. If you drink a gallon of anti-freeze, you may get cancer, I may get depressed, someone else may get skin problems. It’s toxic to all three of us but it can manifest differently. The symptoms can be misleading of what’s actually happening.
With the easy access to information today, many people are playing whack-a-mole-symptom-chaser with supplements. This is no different than prescribing medicine based on symptoms. I can’t tell you how many patients have come in with a small trash bag full of supplements because the ‘expert’ at the local health food store was recommending them based on their symptoms.
“I’m taking this for my thyroid.”
“Do you have a thyroid problem?”
“I don’t know, but I’m really fatigued and can’t lose weight.”
“Let’s stop guessing and test. It could be a thyroid problem, but it could be a thyroid conversion problem. It could be a methylation problem. It could be an estrogen problem. It could be an adrenal problem. It could be an inflammation problem. It could be an auto-immune problem. It could be detox problem. it could be a Vitamin D problem.”
The scenarios are vast and guessing will most likely leave you frustrated, discouraged, and eating more pills and capsules than actual food. This is a shout from a patient that had a very clean lifestyle and did the basics for a while. She still didn’t have the energy she was hoping for so we dug a bit deeper and got individualized and figured out what needed support. She was pretty confident it was her thyroid. Labs showed other wise.
A couple things I’ve noticed since being on my doctor prescribed supplements… My memory works again, my recovery from working out is really fast, I don’t need to sleep as much/I have more energy and I handle stress a TON better. The memory one I think is the biggest for me. It’s really nice to not feel like my ‘computer’ is completely frozen and that I will be able to recall what I want in a minute instead of never…I love my Piyo workouts even more now! Now that I can recover like a normal person from a workout I can do the harder workouts all the time and not feel like I am dead after.
In a day and age where time is as valuable as money, stop wasting your finite resources. You can always earn more money. You can’t ever gain more time in a day. If you’re already on the fit, fuel, feel strategy in addition to basic supplements but still feeling foggy, then it’s time to stop guessing and get tested. Not sure what the next step is? Feel free to set up a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation.