Aisles of vitamins, minerals, probiotics and adaptogens can be totally over-whelming to the uninitiated. Here’s the good news: you’re not supposed to be taking all of them. While the double fist of pills most wellness-lovers take daily might seem daunting — especially if you’re still skeptical — there’s no need to start popping pills without learning exactly what your body may need. In part two of this piece, we’ll call out just five daily supplements you should consider daily and we’ve got so much more to say on the topic.
First, let’s start out on why bother taking supplements in the first place. From our depleted soil to our high-stress lifestyles and overly processed diets, here’s why our friends at Food Matters recommend supplementing just as we do…
You cautiously walk down the supplement aisle and all you see when you arrive is overwhelming shelves filled with brands promising you instant remedies and longevity. So which one do you choose? Do you go with the bottle that has some fancy doctor’s name on the label, or perhaps the one that has a photo of a family looking blissfully happy? Or do you get so confused you walk out empty handed?
Well, don’t worry, we’ve taken out the guess work so you can navigate the supplement maze with confidence.
Yes, You Really Do Need Supplements.
We often hear that if you eat well you shouldn’t need to supplement, and in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to. Ideally, we would live stress-free lives, get all the nutrients we need from our food, and never be exposed to toxins. But the truth is, we no longer live like our forefathers, and while many of us live healthy lives free from disease and illness, it’s not always the case. Supplementing is becoming an essential health-booster that can help fill nutritional gaps and protect your body against the occasional diet slip-up.
Through our journey of creating the films Food Matters and Hungry For Change, we have met with some incredible health practitioners and wellness experts, including Dr. Andrew Saul, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Ian Brighthope and Charlotte Gerson. And they all agree on one thing: If you’re searching for optimal wellness, improving your diet and developing a supplement plan is essential. Additionally, supplementation was a critical element in helping my father recover from serious chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and anxiety.
We’re here to demystify the confusion surrounding what supplements are ideal to have as an all-around program and uncover the Fab Five that can help you achieve vibrant health without breaking the budget. There are enormous benefits to increasing your dietary intake of vitamins and minerals through supplementation. So when it comes to making sure you’re covering all bases, quality supplements can be your daily backup for ultimate health.
As Dr. Dan Rogers, MD says, “How can you build a building that you expect to last 100 years if you put poor building materials in? Same thing with your body. How can you expect your body to last for a long and enjoyable lifetime if you don’t put the proper building blocks in there?”
Nothing will replace a diet rich in vitamins and minerals from wholesome natural foods. But life gets busy, stress levels rise, we struggle to find time to source and prepare a variety of nourishing dishes, and as a result, our health and nutrition takes a back seat. Not to mention, our food just isn’t the same as what it used to be. Nutrient levels have drastically decreased and toxicity levels are elevated due to modern day large-scale farming practices.
Supplementing helps to make sure we’re getting the nutrition we need, each and every day, no matter what life throws at us. Watch this 8-minute segment from the film Food Matters, which helps to explain how our food has changed.
Why Eating Well May Not Be Enough…
The World Health Organization estimates that nutrition plays a role in 85 percent of disease. Therefore, fueling your body appropriately is one of the most amazing things you can do for your body.
Unfortunately, modern farming practices, major food companies, global supply chains and heavy use of mass manufacturing has seen our food supply go from local, sustainable and nutrient-rich, to heavily processed ‘franken-foods’ and old produce traveling miles and miles, stripped of essential vitamins and minerals by the time they reach our plates.
These are just some of the reasons why our food is not as nutritious as it used to be:
+ soil deficiencies
+ environmental contamination
+ extended refrigeration
+ chemical alteration
+ over processing
In addition to this, what we do to the soil, air and water around us deeply affects our food.
Okay, But What’s Soil Got To Do With It?
As natural health icon Charlotte Gerson points out in Food Matters, our soil is bereft of nutrients, minerals and trace elements, with fertilizers only replacing the phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium in the earth. So, where are the rest of the vitamins and minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, etc.) that the soil needs? They are absent.
Fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows.
Over the past half century, the vitamins and minerals in our fresh produce have gradually been declining, with researchers discovering drops in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C, of 43 different types of fruits and vegetables.
In fact, the average nutrient levels for calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C have dropped by 28% according to a Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997. Another study concluded that you would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.
We could be eating the healthiest foods each and every day, but there’s still a chance that we’re not getting enough of the nutrients the body need. When you combine this with the demands of a busy lifestyle, it’s hard for your body to keep up, let alone feel amazing and look great.
The Benefits of Increased Nutrient Intake:
There are countless studies showing that by simply increasing your vitamin and mineral intake, you may…
+ boost your immunity
+ reduce your stress levels
+ stimulate hair growth
+ improve your skin
+ promote mental clarity
+ lower your blood pressure
+ help yourself lose weight
+ reduce your cravings
+ increase your energy levels
+ improve your ability to sleep
+ regulate your digestion
Not to mention, a healthy diet and supplementation routine can also help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer. Given this information, it is little wonder that many experts now advise that an all-round supplementation program (alongside a healthy diet) is crucial for optimal health.
Natural Vs. Synthetic Supplements
Often we associate the word ‘synthetic’ as meaning something bad. In many cases where food is concerned, this is certainly true. However, the trouble is that our bodies can become so deficient and depleted in key nutrients that nothing short of high dose supplementation will do the trick to make us better again.
While whole food supplements are more ‘natural’, they don’t always deliver the high doses that people with certain illnesses need to heal, replenish and recover. Mother Nature’s vitamins and minerals are absolutely great—as long as your body is in a state of wellness. When your body is in an artificial state of disease, it sometimes needs a megadose of nutrients to heal. And only synthetic vitamins can provide that.
+ isolated or simulated nutrients
+ cheap to make and usually non-organic
+ can be more bioavailable (high-quality brands)
+ generally allow for higher doses
+ consumed in whole food form
+ made with premium ingredients
+ rich in phytonutrients
+ sometimes provide lower doses
For general daily wellness, it’s best to stick to whole food vitamin supplements and leave the synthetic versions for serious health conditions that require specific nutrients at high doses.
Speaking with your health professional about what supplements are going to benefit you the most is important, rather than just taking a whole lot of different things because everyone else is. They might require you to take blood tests or a hair analysis test to find out if there are any nutrients you are particularly low in.
Watch for part two as we break down which supplements most of us should be taking daily.