Supplements: to take or not to take
Do we need to take dietary supplements? Welps describes what dietary supplements are and how to choose the best ones.
According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration, USA), a dietary supplement is a product to be taken orally in order to increase the nutritional value of the diet. They come in forms of tablets, capsules, liquids, premixed beverages and powders, as well as creams, gels and sprays. Typically, a dietary supplement contains one, or any combination of the elements below:
- amino acids
- concentrates, metabolites, components or endocrine extracts
- herbs or herbal products
- supplemental protein
- supplemental carbohydrates
When choosing dietary supplements, you need to pay attention to the following:
- bioavailability of the formulation: whole foods, not synthetic ones, without preservatives and fillers are easier to digest and less likely to cause allergies;
- recommended dosage should not exceed the daily allowance for the corresponding age;
- manufacturer. Among the well-established companies are Gaia Herbs, Designs for Health;
- standardized extracts and proven ingredients;
- vegan or vegetarian formulations;
- "USP Verified" or "NSP Verified" on the label is a guarantee of quality.
Things to avoid:
- genetically modified substances such as soybean oil and corn starch, which are common additives;
- hydrogenated oils, which can be found in capsules with vitamin D and fish oil;
- plastics, as some extended-release coatings and capsules contain phthalates;
- pesticides, lead, PCBs and mercury;
- artificial colors, flavors and preservatives;
- fillers that contain toxins such as sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, povidone, chlorine, talc and titanium dioxide;
- fillers that can cause gastrointestinal distress, including lactose, magnesium stearate, sorbitol, and cellulose;
- sugar and other sweeteners.
Read the list of ingredients and instructions carefully. Many dietary supplements are not marketed as drugs and their formulation and safety are not regulated by the relevant authorities.
Welps recommends consulting a specialist before taking any dietary supplement.
One of the most common questions asked by nutritionists around the world is: Do I have to take supplements constantly or can I get everything I need from food? Christa Orecchio, a nutritionist from the USA with extensive experience and a degree in biochemistry, assumes that the answers are, respectively, yes and no.
Yes, because a balanced diet does not exist in nature.
No, because currently it would take an unreasonable amount of effort, time and knowledge to eat perfectly organic and suitable food. It would also require living with a minimal level of stress in order not to flush precious minerals and vitamins from the body. Christa believes that high quality supplements are essential for promoting health, filling nutritional gaps and protecting the body. After all, there are many factors that undermine health that lie mainly outside of our control.
Among these factors are:
- processed foods;
- environmental toxins;
- digestive disorders;
- various genetic tendencies;
- issues with detoxification of some pharmaceuticals;
- hormones and antibiotics in meat, fish and poultry;
- genetically modified organisms (GMOs);
- depletion of soil on which fruits and vegetables are grown.
Christa believes that supplements can help one feel much better by boosting the rate at which nutrient deficiencies are replenished. An important function of dietary supplements is that they assist in eliminating bad chemicals and toxins.
Christa recommends taking the following 4 supplements on a more or less constant basis to maintain optimal health.
Small doses of essential vitamins and minerals can eliminate minor deficiencies in the body. If iron is present in the multivitamins, then our advice is to first be tested for ferritin and hemoglobin as an overdose of iron can cause serious harm.
The body does not produce omega-3 fatty acids so omega-3-rich food should be included in the diet. But if you don’t eat wild fish three times a week, then supplementation is recommended. Omega-3 acids are essential for maintaining optimal blood pressure, normalizing cholesterol levels and nervous system, as well as helping to lose weight. Adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are believed to have a positive effect on the health of the cardiovascular system and are essential for conception and healthy pregnancy. Omega-3 is also directly linked to the reduction of arthritis, depression and bowel inflammation.
Probiotics are essential in supporting the digestive and immune systems. It is recommended to take them for 4-12 weeks several times a year. You will also need to include fermented foods in the daily ration. This scheme restores the balance of the good bacteria in the GI tract and crowds out the harmful ones. Probiotics can also improve mood. More serotonin (a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being and satisfaction) is produced in the gut than in the brain. For this reason, many people with digestive problems are depressed. It's important to take a probiotic with multiple strains of bacteria.
Herbal Supplements assist in cellular detoxification. Spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and barley grass saturate the blood with oxygen and contain antioxidants. They also change the biochemistry of the body, which has a positive effect on food addictions.
Welps recommends having a blood test and consulting with a doctor before taking any dietary supplements.