The Why and How of Nutrient Supplementation

How’s a body to choose? There are so many vitamins and minerals on the market today, it’s just about a full-time job to understand them all.

Can we break down the mind-boggling stream of options into a few basic, simple, wise choices?

Dr. Connie

Which brand is best? How much do we need? And for that matter, WHAT supplements do we really need?

Throughout recorded history, we humans have gotten along pretty well by depending on our diets to give us the nutrients our bodies require, without having to swallow supplemental vitamins and minerals.

In a perfect world, we could continue to get our nutrients from a balanced diet of organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs, grown in nutrient-rich soil.

In the real world, however, the situation has greatly changed in the last hundred years. Much of our soil is now contaminated, nutrient-deficient, or depleted.

The terrible irony is that our need for basic nutrients has increased – not just for basic sustenance but because these nutrients help our bodies remove the many harmful substances now present in our environment.

medication-233109_640There’s no question that the nutrients in whole foods are easier for the body to recognize and absorb than any of the pills and capsules listed in the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) of Vitamins and Minerals.

The nutrients in our food are encased in lipid, protein, and carbohydrate matrices.  When companies remove the nutrients and put them in a pill, they perforce remove them from their natural matrices. And “different is not the same.”

For example, the ascorbic acid that we commonly call “vitamin C” is NOT quite the same as the Vitamin C complex found in nature. Believe it or not, there’s more “real” bio‑available vitamin C in a raw potato than in 1000 mg of ascorbic acid!

Soy-whey-protein-dietIt’s logical to conclude, therefore, that supplements made with nutrient-dense natural foods would be our best choice. Hence the popularity of green powders, algae and seaweed supplements, hemp and flax seed “whole meals,” and “power juice” supplements, et al.

Our next-most natural supplement choice would seem to be vitamin formulations that take basic nutrients and react them with algae or yeast to re-integrate them in a matrix similar to what Mother Nature provides.

The problem with these approaches is that you would find very low levels of nutrients in them, compared with the more common standard vitamin/mineral supplements.

While we fully appreciate the benefits of “natural” supplements, in our clinic we continue to prescribe the USP formulations. That’s because studies on therapeutic supplementation give us carefully researched guidelines for how to dose them. These guidelines are borne out by our clinical experience – for the conditions we treat in our clients, these supplements simply work.

Our patients are often concerned by the high dosages we will occasionally prescribe, compared to the recommended daily allowance (RDA). But the RDAs are calculated to let us know the bare minimum of the nutrient that our bodies need for basic survival – NOT the optimal dosage for therapy or health maintenance.

health-621356_640When we evaluate a supplement, we look not only at its therapeutic benefits, but also at whether it might be harmful or counter-productive.  For example, when a supplement includes additives such as artificial sweeteners, colorings, unpronounceable chemical additives, or allergens of any type, we’re forced to conclude that the manufacturer is trying to sell us something, rather than provide us with a useful therapeutic product.

At Pacific Naturopathic, we go to great lengths to seek out the best hypoallergenic supplements that contain as few non-nutritive additives as possible.

Additionally, our recommendations will vary based on a person’s daily diet (whether it’s varied, and whether the person is regularly consuming whole foods), plus the patient’s individual ability to digest and assimilate nutrients, and their individual therapeutic needs.

To discuss your health issues, including your nutritive status, give us a call at (650) 917-1121, or leave us a message using the Contact Form. We’re always happy to help!

Find out more about Dr. Connie’s work HERE.

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