Does your head start spinning when you stand in the supplement aisle at the grocery store? Are you inundated by friends trying to get you to buy-in to a supplement line that will “change your life”? Between all of the choices and the overload of information, you start thinking…Maybe I need this. And this. And this. And before you know it, you have an ever-growing cabinet full of supplements that you never take. With supplements, there are a few things you need to think about:
Supplements 101: Part 1
Chelsea Blackbird, Certified Nutritional Therapist
1. Real Food
First things first: You should always be striving to get your nutrients from real food. Amen. Shut the door. Game over. No amount of supplements is going to fix what a crappy diet is doing to your body.
2. Everyone is different
What’s good for your friend or the happy lady on the TV commercial or the celebrity in the magazine ad….is not necessarily good for you. Your body has its own needs and deficiencies. You could be eating a nutritious diet or taking expensive supplements, but if your body cannot process them efficiently because of some imbalance…well, you could be wasting a lot of time, energy, and money. It’s really best to have some sort of professional evaluation by your MD, Naturopath, or Nutritionist to assess your deficiencies and needs.
3. Grocery store brands vs. MLM (multi-level marketing lines) vs. Professional Lines
I get TONS of questions about where to buy supplements and what brands to use. The key here is obviously quality. Sure, you can find some decent stuff on the grocery shelf. Unfortunately, most of it is poor quality and full of synthentic fillers and hidden things like gluten. Check out this recent article by the NYT which details how many of the supplements don’t even include the ingredients they are claiming to have.
As far as the MLM lines go I’m always a bit skeptical about these pyramid businesses – aren’t you? That doesn’t mean all of the products are bad – some are just fine. But in general, I often find undesirable ingredients and poor processing methods associated with some of them. Plus, I find people rely too much on these as “life-changing miracle supplements” instead of focusing on eating real food. I would so much rather you make a smoothie with lots of real food ingredients as opposed to mixing a processed powder with water and calling it breakfast. And who wants to do that for the rest of their lives anyway? Nobody. Too many people “bar-hop” supplement lines…jumping from one to the next when the scene gets old.
Professional lines (meaning you typically have to order through a practicioner) are usually (not always) of higher quality ingredients and processed more responsibly. They often cost more but sometimes you get what you pay for. If you are putting some thing in your body in hopes of improving your health…it better be high quality.
Keep in mind that professional lines of supplements are usually stronger, more concentrated, and typically need only be used therapeutically…not forever. Also be warned that buying them from a place like Amazon instead of through the manufacturer or an approved practitioner may mean you are getting an old, expired, or tampered with formula.
Check out Part 2 where Chelsea recommends her favorite supplements!