Supplements. There are so many that claim to do so much. Are supplements something important we’ve been missing all these years or can we get all we need from food?
Well, the answer is complicated.
We should always, always strive to eat in a way that gives us as many nutrients as possible, bringing us as close as we can to the recommended daily amounts of vitamins and minerals. This means eating a whole foods, plant based diet with lots of legumes, nuts, and seeds, plenty of colorful veggies and fruits and healthy whole grains.
As a side note, eating animal products is a waste of stomach space; you get a ton of macronutrients (like fat, calories and protein) but barely any micronutrients.
#1 Rule: If you think you are low on a nutrient, eat more of a food that contains it!!
Try as hard as you can before going to supplements because fresh food is always better than supplements.
But sometimes, our busy schedules or let’s face it, our lack of motivation makes it hard to reach these nutrient goals. This is why I believe supplements can be useful in some cases.
Here are some tips if you do choose to use supplements:
- B12 for all vegans!
- Check your intake with a nutritional database like myfoodrecord.com
- Calcium: eat lots of dark, leafy greens, tofu and fortified non-dairy milks, but if you still miss the mark consider a supplement
- BE CAREFUL: some multivitamins might put you over the RDA of certain vitamins/minerals. Excess can be harmful in some cases too!
- Get a blood test! Don’t self-diagnose. This is most important for minerals (like iron or zinc) and fat soluble vitamins (like vitamin E).
- Never use megadoses unless prescribed by a nutritional therapist or doctor.