The supplement industry is pretty large across many spheres in our world today. There are supplements geared towards vegetarians as well as those in the paleo movement, supplements designed to reduce inflammation and even help your hair grow faster, supplements aimed at juice fanatics and for those who simply want an all-encompassing multivitamin. The question remains though: Should we even be taking supplements?
Let’s get back to basics first. Dictionary.com defines the word supplement as “something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole.” Something added to complete a thing implies that we have to have a thing first. The supplement is an addition to the thing. The thing should be the focus, and in this case, that thing is our diets. A healthy, well-rounded diet has to be the underlying focus if we are to achieve health. Supplementing is just an added option.
Another thing to consider when deciding which supplements, if any, you choose to incorporate into your routine is the quality of those supplements. Be the person who reads the labels. If that bottle you are considering lists a bunch of synthetic, man-made chemicals that you can’t even pronounce, you should put it down and walk away. Besides the fact that our bodies were never intended to digest or live off of synthetic replacements of the real deal, consuming these limited vitamins and minerals leaves our bodies open to even more deficiencies than they might prevent.
When we consume real food (think vegetables and fruits here) in their whole state, they not only contain vitamins and minerals not yet discovered by humans, but they also contain a variety of the ones we do know. Sure, beta-carotene is good for us, but when we eat a carrot, we get a heck of a lot more benefit than taking beta-carotene alone, especially if that beta-carotene is a synthetic version. When we take large doses of single vitamins or minerals, we throw off the balance achieved by consuming a whole food. When your body’s receptors are busy breaking down all of that synthetic vitamin C you just took to ward off a cold, it was too busy to process the other complementary vitamins your body desperately needed. When one micronutrient is out of balance, it creates more imbalance.
Supplements can be a great addition to a solid diet. We need to always remember though, that the food we eat is much more important than taking supplements. If you choose to take supplements, look for whole food supplements without synthetic fillers, and avoid singular vitamins to help improve the balance needed for health. You deserve the real deal, so don’t settle for a replacement.
Do you feel that supplements are a necessary part of your routine?