Nutritional Supplements have become a way of life for many. Some use nutritional supplements for their corrective action and even more use them for preventive maintenance. Why are nutritional supplements necessary? The most basic answer is that our diet does not supply the nutrients necessary for good health. Part of the problem lies in our food choices that include sugar, white flour, caffeine, sodas and not enough whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Another part of the problem lies in our food supply system. Some of the necessary nutrients simply are not in the soil as a result of modern farming techniques. Other necessary nutrients are not in the food by the time we eat it since the nutrients decline during transit time from field to grocery store or during the process of freezing or canning.
To overcome the limitations in our dietary choices and in our food system, it is necessary to supplement. With the plethora of products available, how do you decide what you need? I recommend some basic categories such as a multi-vitamin, an omega 3 oil, a green supplement and a digestive enzyme. These are the basic supplements that will help balance out deficits in the American diet.
The next challenge is how to choose good products. As with anything, it is buyer beware. Look for companies with significant research behind their products along with quality raw materials. Cheaper is usually not better.
For instance, in looking for a multi-vitamin, I particularly like “food based” supplements. “Food based” means that the formula is not just made up of chemical isolates that science has identified as necessary for health, but that it contains “whole” foods such as broccoli, carrots, cabbage, herbs, sea vegetation and green super foods. Then there are “whole food” vitamins that contain only foods that are super concentrated in specific nutrients. These “whole food” vitamins are the Cadillacs of the vitamin world.
An example of a chemical isolate is ascorbic acid which is also known as vitamin C. Vitamin C is not just one substance, but a whole family of substances that include the bioflavonoids. The ascorbic acid version of vitamin C is actually bad for you. Over and over, research is proving that chemical isolates do not work as well as natural substances and will actually cause harm if consumed in sufficient amounts. Look for a more natural C with rose hips, acerola cherry or camu-camu. The benefit of the natural supplement is that you actually use less, and it is more effective because it contains natural synergistic factors. Some of the well known commercial multi-vitamins have less than 10% absorption rates. This is a mixed blessing since you probably don’t want to absorb the dyes, fillers and less usable form of nutrients. The better supplements will contain the most absorbable form of nutrient and if they are in tablet form, will contain whole foods that boost absorption significantly. Whole food formulations have absorption rates as high as 90+%. The more effective formulas include “foods”, and the most effective are “foods”.
There are many good supplements available, including calcium, multi-vitamins and many other formulations. Supplements are expensive, so shop wisely.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. www.naturalcowgirl.wordpress.com