To supplement or not to supplement…that is the question here and a really good one. With supplements being on the rise, it can be super confusing to figure out whether supplementing is right for you. It’s even more confusing figuring out what supplements you should take. Generally speaking, we always recommend getting nutrients from whole foods versus supplements. How can you do this? By eating a variety of different foods- think vegetables, grains, proteins, fats, nuts & seeds. Variety is super important here, because let’s say you stick to kale every single day because it’s such a healthy veg, you can miss out on all the wonderful nutrients that other veggies offer.
With that being said, there may be times when supplementing is appropriate. However, this is something that should be assessed well because nowadays, we see a lot unnecessary and even unsafe supplementation. People at a higher risk for nutrient deficiencies should definitely be considered for supplementation. Examples are pregnant women, the elderly, people with food allergies or intolerances, people suffering from certain gastrointestinal diseases, and vegans or vegetarians.
Now, you don’t necessarily have to be at risk for deficiencies to consider taking a supplement. There are certain conditions that may be improved by taking a particular supplement. For example, patients who suffer from inflammation, have elevated triglycerides, or are at a high risk for heart disease, may benefit from an omega-3 supplement. Alternatively, I have tons of patients who take a vitamin b-complex supplement for nails, skin, and hair. Is it helpful? Perhaps. Multivitamins and other vitamin & mineral combinations are generally safe, as long as the values aren’t through the roof. I’ve seen supplements that have over 1000% of a given nutrient, and I stay as far away from those as possible. To put this into perspective, 100% is the recommended daily value of that given nutrient- if you’re getting 1000%, you’re getting 10 times that amount. Since supplements are loosely regulated, the safety of a lot of these products has not been extensively tested.
With that being said, you have a few options. You can have your doc order tests to determine if taking a supplement is right for you based on any existing deficiencies. You can also just take the supplement anyways, and in that case, I would recommend that you try to stick as close to the 100% daily value range as possible. Always keep in mind though that real food contains all types of wonderful things that a pill would never offer us. If you’re still unsure about whether taking a multivitamin or supplement is right for you, I say consult with a doctor or RD.
You can also use this site to choose supplements. They conduct independent testing of supplements based on label accuracy, product purity, nutritional value, ingredient safety, and projected efficacy. I love this site because they also provide a ranking for each product based on quality AND value- which helps you choose a good product that is also within your budget.
Now on a more personal note, I’m going to go over some of the supplements that I take, and some of the one’s Jess takes as well. This isn’t a green light to take these- I just want to put into perspective the why behind the supplements we take.
So for me, the list is pretty basic.
- Vitamin D:
Living in NYC, it can be challenging to get enough sunlight (which results in Vitamin D synthesis). I take 1000 IU (600 dv) of Vitamin D3 capsule daily.
Because of my history with chronic constipation, I regularly take a probiotic supplement. Check out our full post about why probiotics are awesome, here.
Now for Jess, she also takes Vitamin D & a daily probiotic. Others include:
- Vitamin B12:
She eats mostly vegan, and it can be challenging to get enough B12 from plant-based foods.
She takes this for thyroid support because thyroid disease runs in her family and she has hashimotos, which is an autoimmune disorder where your body attacks your thyroid.
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