A common question we get asked is whether or not someone needs nutritional supplements if they are eating a nutritious, well balanced diet. The follow-up question usually involves how to determine what to take and where to find the best supplements.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need nutritional supplements to support good health. The problem is that we don’t live in a perfect world. Rather, we are faced with a food supply that is providing fewer nutrients with each passing year, we are constantly exposed to stress, and we’re bombarded with environmental and food toxins every day.
It’s no wonder that studies indicate that over 92 percent of Americans are deficient in one or more vitamins. A USDA survey showed that 37 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin C, 70 percent not enough vitamin E, almost 75 percent don’t get enough zinc, and 40 percent don’t get enough iron.
Certainly the foundation of a healthy lifestyle is eating a clean diet, consisting of real food that is unprocessed, preferably organic, and includes adequate amounts of vegetables and fruits. In addition, most everyone needs at the very least a basic multivitamin and mineral support to ensure that our bodies are able to carry out the fundamental physiological processes necessary for optimal health.
It’s also important to remember that not all nutritional supplements are created equal. Nutritional supplements don’t have to undergo the same scrutiny from oversight organizations that prescription drugs do, so it’s critical that you consider the following factors when purchasing a nutritional supplement:
- Manufacturers who use GMP (good manufacturing practices) or the equivalent.
- Third-party analysis for independent verification of active ingredients and contaminants.
- Products that have some basis in basic science, clinical trials, or have a long history of use and safety.
- Use of clean products, free of harmful preservatives, fillers, binders, excipients, flow agents, shellacs, coloring agents, gluten, yeast, and lactose and other allergens.
The lines of nutritional supplements that we carry at our two locations abide by these guidelines. For more information on some of the lines we carry be sure to visit the Nutritional Supplements page on this website. When you click on the logo of a particular company it will take you to that company’s website where you can research the control measures and testing that they have in place to ensure maximum quality.
So, to answer the question about what supplements you should take, I typically recommend the following as a foundation of good health:
- A good multivitamin that includes vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as all the B vitamins, vitamin K, minerals, and other key nutrients.
- An omega-3 fat supplement.
- An additional vitamin D supplement – especially for those of us living in the Northeast.
Certain individuals will need additional supplementation, depending on their particular condition, and as always check with your medical practitioner before embarking on a nutritional regimen. For a foundation of good health, this protocol will work well for most people, and these three supplements are what I typically recommend to patients for basic support in achieving optimal health and wellness.
We love to get feedback, so please leave your comments below. Let us know what supplements you’re taking and what works for you…and also what hasn’t worked for you, and some of the things you’ve learned on your journey to good health.
Michael Lenz RPh, is a partner in Fallon Wellness Pharmacy of Saratoga. He has over 15 years experience in custom compounding. Michael has received extensive training in Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) and Adrenal Fatigue. He is an advocate for healthy eating and proper nutritional supplementation, and speaks frequently on the subjects of hormone health, nutrition and wellness. Michael is currently enrolled in the Institute For Functional Medicine’s Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner Program. He lives in Saratoga Springs, NY with his wife and 4 children.
sources: drhyman.com; Ames, B.N. 2004. A role for supplements in optimizing health: the metabolic tune-up. Arch Biochem Biophys. 423(1): 227–34. Review.