Making Healthy Choices

Do you really need supplements?

By Dr. Brian Hester

If you do a simple Google search to find out if supplements are absolutely necessary for a healthy life, you’ll find hundreds of articles showing exactly why you need them.

Flip the script and search for why supplements are a hoax and you’ll find just as many results. It’s a huge controversy in the health care industry. When you add in the fact supplements aren’t FDA regulated, you’ve got the perfect storm. There are plenty of products regulated by the FDA I’d never recommend to anyone, but it would take away the wiggle room for being able to put whatever you want into a bottle, slap a label on it and call it a supplement. That happens—a lot.

Let’s take a look to see if there’s a way we can navigate the murky waters here to bring a little bit of clarity to the issue and get you three things you need to know about adding supplements to your healthy lifestyle.

Preventative is always better,

but not usually realistic.

In a perfect world, there would be no need for supplements because everyone would be getting every nutrient they could possibly need from the foods they’re eating. There would be no deficiencies to bolster because it’s all found in your three well-rounded meals. But clearly, it’s not the norm, for a few reasons.

First, most people simply don’t eat like that. We eat processed foods and consume too much sodium, empty calories and foods with zero nutritive value.

Second, even if your plate was full of whole food and clean ingredients for every meal, the food we eat today is not the food of 50 years ago—or even 25. The way we grow things is different, the soil is different and it affects the food we’re putting in our bodies.

Supplements are never a substitute for making healthy choices, but they certainly can fill gaps where our food falls short. So, while preventing the need for supplements by eating all our nutrients would be ideal, it’s very difficult to do in today’s food climate.

There’s no magic fix.

No matter what the bottle says, it’s not going to be an instant solution (and if it says it is, I’d probably just throw it away). You’re not going to grow a full head of hair, lose all pain in your lower back and heal your leaky gut overnight. It’s just not possible. Supplements aren’t Band-Aids for the symptoms you’ve had for years. Taking the right combination doesn’t just help prevent disease but can also begin to aid your body in healing itself.  You’ve got to give them time to work. And, just another reminder, they aren’t an excuse to eat all the things and do none of the exercises. They work alongside your body. You get to put in the work as well.

Quality does matter.

It goes without saying, but not all supplements are created equally. Some are full of fillers, artificial sweeteners and colors and are just plain junk. Take a look at most of the kids’ vitamins on shelves at Target, just to blow your mind. They’re full of crapola. Find out exactly what your supplement has in it. Often, we’re taking them because the food going in our bodies isn’t always the best. You don’t need to add insult to injury by taking supplements full of more junk.

Do your research. 

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