I frequently get questions about taking supplements including how often you should take them, for how long, and what types of supplements you need to take. Contrary to some medical articles I have read that show no benefit to taking supplements, I am a huge advocate for supplements, for many reasons.
The flaws is the arguments against supplements
A prime example of a misleading article is one I read in a medical journal on Vitamin D3. According to this study, subjects were followed for 12 months using 800 IU of Vitamin D3 and showed no improvement in bone health.
Here is the problem with this study and similar studies on supplements.
First, most medical studies look at supplements like a drug study. They test one drug to determine the effect of the drug. You cannot do that with a vitamin. Most vitamins don’t act alone.
That is why I add Vitamin K2 (in the form of MK7) with Vitamin D3. In order for D3 to benefit your bone health, Vitamin K2 has to be present in your body to activate the proteins. These proteins enable calcium to enter the bones and teeth.
Second, studies often use ineffective doses. According to nutrition scientists, the amount of Vitamin D3 needed to impact bone health is ten times the amount prescribed in the above study.
Third, outcomes are impacted by inadequate follow-up times. In most cases it takes years of optimal doses to achieve therapeutic effects.
Fourth, some studies use the wrong form of a supplement. There are at least 4 forms of B12 and the one type that is most commonly found in drug stores is not easily absorbed in the human body, rendering it useless.
Another great example is a study that showed an association between taking vitamin E and an increased risk of cancer. That study leads to many physicians recommending against taking vitamin E. However, if you look closely, the form used in the study was the synthetic DL alpha-tocopherol and not the natural alpha-tocopherol. These are completely different compounds.
So why take supplements?
There are several reasons.
1. Food sources are not always reliable
Soil is often depleted of nutrients. There need to be sufficient soil concentrations of nutrients for the plants to absorb these nutrients. And since the 1940s, fruits and vegetables have had a 76% decrease in nutrients.
Today it takes 53 peaches to get the same nutrients in 2 peaches that were grown in the early 1950’s.
2. We are not picking fruits and vegetables when they are most nutritious
Fruits and vegetables are most nutritious when picked ripe. Yet most of the fruit and vegetables are harvested when they are unripe and therefore, less nutritious.
Throw in the effects of pesticides found in most fruits and vegetables, which affect absorption, and you can start to see why you need supplements.
3. We are eating more processed foods
Most people on the standard American diet (SAD) eat a lot of processed foods, which removes a lot of the natural nutrients and replaces them with a cheaper, synthetic version. Most people on the SAD have unhealthy gut biome, which is known to cause nutritional deficiencies.
Ingestion does not guarantee digestion or absorption.
4. We are spending more time indoors
Industrial framing and new ways of life have left us lacking the nutrients we used to get from spending more time outside or eating wild game. Let’s look at Vitamin D3—we used to get most of our D3 from the sun. Now we hardly ever stay outside long enough to get the benefits from the sun.
What you can do to make sure you are fully nourished
Not only do we need supplements we need the right supplements. Because the standard American diet and even certain medications destroy our gut microbiome, I recommend taking probiotics, among other supplements.
How long do you have to take supplements?
It depends. I really believe it is best to get all the nutrients from natural means. That means cleaning up your diet; aka eating fresh fruit and vegetables, pasture-raised / grass-fed meat and dairy, and no processed or GMO foods. But as hard as we try, we will not eat clean enough to get all the nutrients we need.
And if you are taking medications that rob your body of its nutrients, you will need to supplement as long as you are being robbed of these nutrients.
The good news is the amount and frequency can lessen. Once you get optimized and begin feeling the benefits of eating “clean”, you can cut back on some of your supplements if you wish.
In a perfect world, we could obtain all the nutrients we need from nature, however, even if you make a consorted effort to eat organic food and avoid man-made processed foods, it is still hard to obtain all the needed vitamins and minerals. That is why I recommend good high-quality supplements, also referred to as nutraceuticals.
It can take years of supplementing to correct decades of a nutritionally depressing diet. After maximal effects are achieved, you can reduce the amount or frequency of some supplements. So, eat healthy, live healthy, and take your supplements!
I would like to recommend the book, “THE GUT BALANCE REVOLUTION” by Gerard E. Mullin MD. It is a great book that details the new medical frontier of the connection between the gut and your overall health. The information in this book is revolutionary and interesting and will lead to life changes.