Are you a supplement chaser? Do you feel compelled to continue trying more and more supplements, hoping to find the holy grail of health? The truth is, health doesn’t work that way, and you are likely flushing your money down the drain!
Lies in a bottle
How many bottles of supplements do you have in your home? Be HONEST here. You likely have more bottles than you want to admit.
Supplement bottles are often pushed for profit and have no ingredient integrity, truthful advertising, or honesty. You might have bought bottles because of a claim that they would make you skinny, or ease your discomfort, or provide you with any hope for a better outcome than what are dealing with now. But how many of them actually WORKED? How many showed you tangible results? The realistic answer is few to none.
When you buy a supplement, you’re TRUSTING that what’s on the label is actually in it. But what if it’s not, and you’re paying top dollar for fillers and straight-up lies?! (hint: supplements are often low quality, contain irritating additives/fillers, and most of the raw materials are imported without strict regulation regarding safety and purity).
A few recent cases paint this fraudulent picture clearly:
- August 2015: Green Pastures, the makers of the all popular Fermented Cod Liver Oil was slammed with a damning report that their code liver oil is rancid, not from cod, and contains added oils according to lab tests. I think the jury is still out on this one, but you can read the full report here, and the various rebuttals here and here.
- March 2015: Select herbal supplement brands at Walmart, Walgreens, Target and GNC were found to NOT include what they were supposed to (ie. the main ingredient) and were contaminated with off-label ingredients. Read the full article here.
- April 2014: Lawsuit against Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation and Albion Laboratories for filling their magnesium glycinate supplements with largely a cheaper form of magnesium (oxide). See lawsuit details here.
Let’s be honest: unless you own a lab and test your own supplements, or visit the manufacturer, you really have no clue about what you are actually consuming in supplements. I get it, the desire to TRUST companies by default, but with supplements, I beg you and your wallet not to, especially if you aren’t even sure your body actually needs them or they are helping!
When I was trained as a nutritional therapist, supplements were emphasized and heavily pushed. This educational foundation steered me to amass thousands of dollars in supplements to sample, test, and use in my nutrition practice. Luckily I came to my senses after my first year in business and learned that supplements DO NOT WORK as well a well strategized diet. And they often have unwanted side effects if they are not targeted based on your own body, making them more harmful than helpful (iron overload and vitamin A toxicity to name a few).
Whole foods > Supplements
Here’s a a little food for thought: When you set out to perform a task, let’s say bake a cake- you first need a certain amount of ingredients on hand, right? Flour, sugar, butter, salt, baking soda, eggs and vanilla. All of these different ingredients are equally important to completing the task successfully. If you add in a bunch of “supplemental” flour into your recipe, what do you think the result will be? More likely than not, the cake will not turn out, and you would have to alter the recipe and add other “supplemental” amounts of the other ingredients to re-balance the cake recipe successfully. Your body’s need for nutrients is similar in a lot of ways.
When your body is carrying out a task, it needs not only one nutrient, but a combination of nutrients in balance to one another. For example when your body is building bone, you not only need calcium, but you also need vitamin K2, vitamin D (not from supplements), magnesium, boron, and good digestion. So taking a calcium supplement can often cause you MORE harm than good, because it’s only part of the equation. On the other hand, when you consume whole foods, such as whole unadulterated milk, for example, the fat of the milk contains the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2, while the fluid part of the milk contains much of the protein and calcium (do not sell yourself short by drinking fat-free). So in totality, the milk supports the body in a complete sense by supplying what is needed.
On occasion, I have found very few supplements to be helpful in the SHORT term while working to re-balance the body, but more often this is better accomplished by using specific foods therapeutically. A few whole food supplements that can benefit everyone can be found here and here. Heavy supplementation also tends to give you a false “easy button” when it comes to nutrition, and distract you from eating real food. If you take this “supplement” you might think that you don’t need to change eating habits or consider nutrition. I would much rather see you learn how to nourish your body for the long-term in a sustainable way, with real food!
Put your money where your mouth is (literally)! If you’re a supplement junkie, it might be a good time to invest those dollar bills in real food– the safest supplement (get some real food supplement ideas here). Don’t fall for the supplement companies’ marketing plans of health promises in every pill.
The Supplement Game vs. Actual Data
Most the women I talk to have played what I call the “supplement game” at some point in their life (myself included); taking a long list of supplements with no real understanding of if it is what their body needs or not. They often are just taking what’s popular or ground-breaking at the time, or what they read worked for someone else on a blog. And there’s a huge fallacy out there that more supplements equals better, when you could really just be overwhelming your body without even knowing it! This supplement game is pretty troublesome; it’s like being blindfolded while playing a game of darts – throwing dart after dart just hoping to get lucky and hit the bullseye.
There is a better supplement approach than just guessing what your body needs, spending insane amounts of money on supplements your body often doesn’t need while perhaps stressing your liver and digestion even more! It’s what I call the data based supplement approach or “hacking your nutrition”…
I mean, imagine if you knew exactly what you were low in, what you were high in, and what you needed to take to bring you back in balance? And better yet, you knew what supplements you definitely want to avoid, because taking them would only make you feel worse! That’s exactly why I now use hair analysis to pinpoint this type of data with my clients, so they only spend money on supplements they know they need, and get far better results going by the data provided by their own body.
What will you choose?