Supplements next to tea on a table

The Scary Truth About Your Supplements

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You know what freaks me out?  Supplements.

It never used to.  In my 20s, I worked 3 jobs and went to college, so I lived in the nutritional supplement stores. Just so I could stay awake and alert, help my depression, IBS, Acid Reflux, and the rest of my never ending ailments and mental health issues that came with stretching myself too thin and just getting out of an abusive relationship.

I took everything from  St. John’s Wort to Vitamins to fish oil to caffeine pills.

Now I wish I was smarter.

Not just about my life choices, but about what I didn’t know I was putting into my body.

Now I am glad I know what to look for in supplements, so I can make smarter decisions.

 

The Truth about supplements pinterest pin

 

FDA Regulations

I’m sure you have seen the label on pretty much every supplement that says something along the lines of “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”.

I remember thinking years ago that it was just something they put on supplements, and since I wasn’t trying to cure a disease, it didn’t matter.

So didn’t give it a second thought.

I was wrong.

My anxiety?  My depression?  My IBS?  Acid Reflux?  Tiredness?  All are ailments that can fall under “disease”.  A disease is a disorder.  It doesn’t always have to do with life or death, like I thought a disease was.  A disease just means your body isn’t working properly.

So in a weird and shocking way, I was treating my “diseases” with supplements that weren’t meant to treat diseases.

Makes sense, huh?




What the Heck Is In These Things?!

Here is the scariest statistic I ever came across:

68% of dietary supplements tested did not have the main ingredient it claimed.

When testing over 78 supplements found in popular chains, 4 out of 5 didn’t have ANY of the ingredients it listed and just had fillers in it .

How is this possible?

Well first, the FDA leaves it up to the manufacturer to test safety and be honest with the consumer.  There really isn’t much oversight.  The FDA only gets involved if a new dietary ingredient is marketed as curing something, or if too many people complain about reactions to a particular supplement.

Remember ephedra in the 90s?  That’s why it was allowed on the shelf and not pulled until tons of people died already.

The FDA says it themselves, that dietary supplements may even contain hidden drugs, falsely marketed as supplements.

Kind of stressful to think about, huh?

If you are anything like me, you now feel sick to your stomach and think back on all the supplements you took in your life and are wondering how that is impacting your body now.




The Other Problem with Supplements

Most supplements don’t work.

Besides the obvious fact that many of them don’t have the actual ingredients they claim.

But even if they did, most don’t work, or work very little.

Why is this?

Because most vitamins and minerals need a big brother to help with absorption.  Like vitamin C helps iron absorption, vitamin D helps calcium absorption, Turmeric needs black pepper, etc.

And many whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, only work because of the certain antioxidants and other nutrients that are in the plant with them.

For example:  Many people take curcumin (the main ingredient in turmeric) for inflammation and cancer.  But did you know in lab tests, turmeric spice as a whole performed much better?

So why the heck are we still taking curcumin alone instead of just spicing our foods with turmeric?

Nature gave us certain antioxidants and nutrients in each food because they go together!




So Should We Take Supplements?

I want to first say, I am not recommending anything, because I just study this stuff and am not a medical professional and don’t know your body.

I just want to give you the information based on what I have learned and what works for me.  What you decide to do with it is ultimately up to you.

I do believe most supplements on the market are complete garbage.  Unfortunately, doctors cannot help us to tell us which ones.

Why?

Doctors go to medical school to study medicine. Not nutrition.

You may be surprised to find out they don’t take ANY nutrition classes in school, which means they don’t study supplements or nutrients.  Which is why if you have an anemia or talk about healthy eating with your doctors, their answers are usually very vague, unless you found the rare doctor that studied nutrition after medical school.

And why when you have an illness, they never look at if the food you are eating could be the cause.

I do think doctors are an expert in their field.  I’m just saying their field does not include nutrition or supplementation.

My doctor admitted to me himself that I probably know more about this stuff than he does, but if I wanted to talk medicine, he would be glad to help me.

So who would be the expert?

A Registered Dietitian (R.D.).  They go through almost as much chemistry/biology schooling as doctors do, as well as clinicals, only their focus is solely on nutrients and food and how they work in the body.

So they are the experts you should talk to if you have questions.




Personal Thoughts on Supplements

I think we need to be our own advocates, determine what we need, and research ourselves on the safety of the supplements we want to take.

Some of us do have nutritional deficiencies and need supplementation.

However, getting our nutrients from whole foods should be the answer, not supplements.

I believe after researching each supplement we take, we should then only take them on the rare days we don’t feel we did too well eating healthy.  Or if we are anemic, or vegan and missing vitamin B-12 from your diet.

My husband and I personally take Garden of Life’s mykind organics once daily tablets.  And only take it on days we eat out, or feel we ate too many empty calories.


How do I know this one was safe?

I guess I don’t know 100% for sure, because nothing is ever guaranteed.

But I am pretty confident in it, after finding out that it is on the list of supplements that passed inspection by a third party, as to having the ingredients it claimed.

Here are the websites I use to check the validity of any supplements I take:

 

 

Should You Stop Taking Supplements?

That is for you to decide.

If you do take them, please make sure to check the third party websites I mentioned above to make sure they actually have the ingredients they claim to.

I will say eating whole healthy foods is much better, and is recommended by researchers and dietitians alike because we just don’t get as much benefit from supplementation as we think.

And the fact it’s scary to think about what actually is in most of our supplements.

So that is the route I am taking and only use supplements on occasion.  It’s also much cheaper that way too.

Instead of taking a fiber supplement, a vitamin C supplement, and multiple antioxidants, it is cheaper and easier for me to just eat an apple.

And I have to say I feel I am much healthier for it.

 

Further Reading on Supplements and Natural Healing:

Is Lack of Fiber Causing Your Health Problems?

The Natural Thyroid Remedy You Didn’t Know Existed

10 Ways to Lower Blood Pressure Immediately

 

There is also a mind-blowing chapter on supplement safety and effectiveness in the book How Not to Diet by Dr. Michael Greger. I highly recommend this book for that and many other shocking facts he talks about, that will make you change the way you look at your food.

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