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Supplements - Good, Bad, Necessary?

The business of supplements had become a HUGE industry. But are they really effective?They can be. My stance on supplementation is this: If you have the right diet for you, supplements are obsolete. Something i have argued with some of my good friends about on end!

Remember when you come down with an illness or symptom, look to the Farm-acy before the Pharmacy

The only caveat is that most people are terrified of cleaning up their diet so the only way to get essential nutrients and minerals is to have supplements that help fulfill those needs. So into the world of supplements. A lot like how pharmaceutical companies will infiltrate medical schools to gain relationships with future doctors that can help increase that company’s profits, the same is partially true in my experience with supplement companies and chiropractic. After all they are a company, and companies have 1 main goal-Make Money! So there is some bias.

Most supplement companies will publish research on the efficacy and purity of their supplements. The proverbial pill to swallow here is that most companies will highlight their benefits, there’s an obvious bias there. So try to find a supplement company with independent research done. Even in some of those situations, the supplement company and research companies are actually under the same corporate umbrella. the same concept works for pharmaceutical companies and some agriculture companies as well.

But nonetheless supplements can be a great way for some people to get those needs fulfilled. Vitamins and minerals are completely essential to the body. There have been numerous studies that show extremely high doses(100k+ iu’s) of vitamin c, given intravenously, to cure cancerous tumors in human beings!! This is not the same as oral vitamin c supplements, which most of us end up sending down the toilet. It always struck me odd that my father, who has been a diabetic for 30+ years, would finish “dropping the kids off at the pool” and after the flush i would find a pill, in its complete form, at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Clearly it was not serving its purpose. Whats the point in taking a daily vitamin if your body is not absorbing it? It’s a sign that the gut is not absorbing nutrients properly. So the problem wasn’t that he didn’t get enough of a particular vitamin or mineral in his diet, but rather his body wasn’t absorbing it properly. A problem that many of us unknowingly suffer from with one vitamin/mineral or another.

These chronic deficiencies can cause longstanding issues. On the flip side, having too much of a particular vitamin/mineral can have an equally deleterious effect. This link is a good start to seeing the connection.

Many vitamins need certain other minerals or components in order to properly digest or absorb. For instance, vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat soluble vitamins. If you take these separately or in a multivitamin and you aren’t eating fats, you wont absorb them very well. Vitamin D is essential for proper calcium absorption, so if you are taking a calcium supplement without vitamin D3, you’re not helping your situation.

Fish oils are a huge craze now as well. Why? They provide the body with essential fats called Omega 3 fatty acids(FA). Omega 3′s help promote proper brain function and are anti-inflammatory among other things. There are also Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids. Omega 6 FA are typically found in just about every processed food and oil(canola, vegetable, soy, corn etc.). Omega 6 FA promote inflammatory pathways of the body(see “My food journey” to learn more about the damage caused by inflammation). The typical ratio found in the average American living in the early 1900′s was anywhere from 1-4:1 omega 6:omega 3. Nowadays the average American’s ratio is anywhere from 17-24:1 overwhelmingly in favor of the Omega 6 FA. So how do we change that? Not only by increasing the omega 3′s, but DECREASING omega 6′s!! Someone with the proper Diet can achieve the 1:1 ratio in today’s world, WITHOUT SUPPLEMENTS! But for those who can’t, supplements surely help.

The main concept is again to find a pure supplement. We recommend anywhere from 1-4 grams of combined EPA and DHA-the active ingredients in fish oils, varying on your lifestyle. Also making sure that the source of the fish oil is from a small fish(mackerel, sardines) because smaller fish consume less toxins than bigger fish(remember the food chain, big fish eat a lot of smaller fish, making them much more toxic.) To find your ratio of omega 6:omega 3′s and for more information on what supplements are right for YOU contact your local functional medicine specialist. My specialist is Nathan Brammeier in Concord, CA.

All in all the only way to find out what you’re deficient in is to get tested for it. The next question is why you are deficient in that particular nutrient? Is it not in your diet or is your body not absorbing it? This is how you fix the problem instead of putting a bucket under the leak in the roof, if you catch my drift.

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