The purpose of supplementation is to fill the nutritional gaps in your diet. It is not meant to replace your diet or used to cure any diseases or ailments.

However, they may help to improve the symptoms or in the prevention of certain ailments that you may be suffering from under proper guidance from a nutritionist. (1

Personally, I have benefited tremendously from the use of supplements in my recovery from stroke while following the other pillars of optimal health which includes watching my diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a balanced mind and getting enough rest.

I know there are people who do not believe in supplementation and I am perfectly fine with it. You are free to practise what you believe in.

I am not here to argue with you because I value my life and I don’t have time to get involved in such pointless arguments.

That said, I hope that the other areas which are discussed with regards to optimal health benefit you.

Before we move on any further, let’s establish why there is a need to supplement our diets.

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Why Supplementation?

Many people believe that they can get all the nutrients from their food alone. Well, it might be possible in the past.

In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health actually concluded that taking a multivitamin-multimineral supplement daily serves as a good nutrition insurance. (2)

Here are the TOP reasons why it is almost impossible for us to achieve this feat nowadays:-

Junk Food & Processed Foods

junk food

The rise of junk and processed foods which are void of nutrients and full of empty calories have contributed to the nutritional gap in our diet.

As these food items are easily accessible in supermarkets and grocery stores and do not require much preparation along with our hectic lifestyle, people have increasingly become reliant on them to stave off their hunger.

That explains the rise of chronic health issues which have been contributed by the excessive consumption of these food items. (3)

Fresh Foods

fresh fruits

Fresh produce provides a far better nutritional bargain. To get the highest levels of nutrients and the lowest levels of pesticides and herbicides, you should choose certified organic fruits and vegetables.

Again, this can be quite challenging for folks who are living in countries that do not practice widespread organic farming. (4, 5)

Soil Quality

soil

Soil degradation is one of the major challenges of the 21st century. The effects of degradation are often irreversible and technological advances tend to merely mask the severity of the underlying problem. (6)

According to a famous American physician, Dr. Charles Northen, “We must make soil building the basis of food building in order to accomplish human building”. (7)

Poor Quality Supplements

supplements

The nutritional void unfortunately applies to supplements too. Some physicians have warned that the multi-billion dollar supplements industry is poorly regulated. 

In reality, testing has revealed a host of problems which include rancidity, misleading information, contamination and dangerous ingredients. (8)

In fact, they do not need to be FDA certified in order to appear in the marketplace. Hence, you cannot really ascertain their effectiveness and safety when it comes to human consumption. (9)

Therefore, it is vital for you to do your research on the food supplements that you are putting into your mouth.

Insufficient Fruits and Vegetables Intake

fiber

According to WHO, it is recommended for an individual to consume 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables from different colour spectrum. (14)

Not sure what a serving size is? You can refer to this guideline from the American Heart Association:

FRUITS

ONE MEDIUM FRUIT = approximately the size of a baseball

FRESH, FROZEN OR CANNED FRUIT = 1/2 cup

DRIED FRUIT = 1/4 cup

FRUIT JUICE** = 1/2 cup

VEGETABLES

RAW LEAFY VEGETABLE = 1 cup

FRESH, FROZEN OR CANNED VEGETABLE = 1/2 cup

VEGETABLE JUICE** = 1/2 cup (15)

However, did you know that only 1 out of 10 adults get enough fruits and vegetables intake in the US? (13)

That’s where supplementation comes in to fill the gap in your diet.

How Do I Get Started?

1. Build A Nutritional Foundation

build a foundation

Various studies have revealed that a proper diet along with a multi-vitamin supplement is all you need to stay healthy and productive in life.

In fact, most nutritionists would recommend a foundation of a multi-vitamin that features phytonutrients along with a quality essential fatty acids supplement to begin with.

2. Know Yourself

know yourself

While most people will do fine with the recommended foundational supplements that are described previously, some people may require additional ones based on specific needs.

You will later find a list of recommended supplements for people of various age groups and gender.

Do note that the list presented below does not take into consideration of any genetic predisposition that you might have towards certain products.

For example, due to my predisposition to systemic lupus, there are certain products that I cannot take.

So it is very important for you to check with your doctor when in doubt.

Otherwise, it should be fine in most cases.

Recommended List of Supplements

Women

women

Besides the Foundational supplements, women may want to consider the following supplements to their nutritional program:

Vitamin-B Complex

Vitamin D3 with iproflavone

Calcium-Magnesium-Vitamin D complex which contains vitamin C, copper, manganese, and zinc to help prevent osteoporosis.

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids

CoQ10

Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)

Men

men

While men may need most of the supplements that women need, they have specific needs that relate to prostate and heart disease that have to be met as well.

Other than the Foundational supplements, men may want to consider the following:

Saw Palmetto complex which feature saw palmetto, nettle root and bioflavonoids for prostate and urinary health.

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids

Vitamin D3 with iproflavone

Vitamin B Complex

CoQ10

Seniors

seniors

They need the same Foundational supplements as their younger counterparts but they may need special support especially if they are experiencing certain symptoms or have particular genetic predispositions:

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids

Siberian Ginseng/Gingko Biloba to increase oxygen flow to the brain

CoQ10

Calcium-Magnesium-Vitamin D complex which contains vitamin C, copper, manganese, and zinc to help prevent osteoporosis.

Saw Palmetto for men experiencing prostate symptoms or for those wishing to take preventive measures

Black Cohosh, for women experiencing menopausal or post-menopausal symptoms

Soluble Fiber, to help maintain good bowel function without laxatives. Taking a soluble fiber supplement together with probiotics can be especially helpful in promoting both healthy bowel function and a strong immune system.

Youth

youth

Besides taking the Foundational supplements, it is recommended for youths to include probiotics as part of their supplement intake due to their tendency to feed on junk food.

Here are some additional supplements to consider for youths:

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids

Calcium-Magnesium-Vitamin D complex which contains vitamin C, copper, manganese, and zinc to help prevent osteoporosis.

Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) for females with PMS issues

As for young children like infants to preteens, it is advisable for you to speak to your healthcare provider since their issues are more complex and it’s not within the scope of this guide.

After you have fulfilled these basic needs, you might be interested to look at other areas:

supplements for other needs

For healthy bones: Calcium Magnesium, including zinc, copper, vitamin C and D3

For blood sugar: Chromium

For occasions when heavy carb meals are unavoidable: A Carb Blocker

For the brain: EFAs that are DHA dominant

For emotions: Vitamin B Complex

For eyes: A formulation with bilberry, citrus bioflavonoids and lutein

For the GI tract: Soluble Fiber

For poor digestion: A Digestive Enzyme complex

For the heart: CoQ10 with Vitamin E

For immune system support: Echinacea

For prevention of colds when you feel one coming on: Echinacea, Vitamin C and Garlic

For inflammation and discomfort: cetylated esters and EFAs that are EPA-dominant

For joints: Glucosamine complex with bioflavonoids and boswellia

For liver: Botanical formulations of Dandelion and Milk Thistle

For pregnancy: Folic Acid and Iron with Vitamin C

For sleep: Valerian root

3. Determine Genetic Predisposition

predisposition

Scientists are now able to determine whether your genes increase your predisposition to specific diseases under the incredible Human Genome Project, which is the result of decades of hard work to map out the genetic code of a human being.

With this powerful information in mind, you will be able to make the necessary changes to your dieting habits to mitigate your risk to certain diseases which have been identified based on such tests.

How To Pick The Best Supplements?

how to pick supplements

Here are 10 questions that you can ask in order to find the best supplements to meet your needs:

1. Is your multi-supplement primarily a plant-based product that includes vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients?

Firstly, all the nutrients your body needs can only be derived from whole plants.

Secondly, it is fine for companies to include lab-produced nutrients together with plant-based ones for a number of practical reasons such as to avoid the producing of huge tablets or to meet certain dosage requirements, but its main product line should consist of whole-plant compounds for their synergistic and bioavailability.

Thirdly, make sure the supplement that you pick feature phyto-nutrients as well since recent research has validated their effectiveness in enhancing our overall health.

2. If the multi-supplement is plant-based, is it derived from a variety of plants?

Since different plants contain different phytonutrients, it is important for you to select a product that has phyto-nutrients from different plant sources.

Variety is the key to picking the right supplement. Otherwise, mother nature would have created only one plant to support our growth, don’t you agree?

3. If the multi-supplement is plant-based and derived from a variety of plants, does the manufacturer own its own land and grow, harvest, and concentrate its own plants?

Healthy plants can only be derived from rich-broad spectrum soil.

Therefore, you want to ensure that your supplements are made from plants that come from this form of soil.

The more a manufacturer outsources this process, the more unlikely it is able to guarantee its quality or control its loss of nutrients from the plants used in the manufacturing of the supplement.

What about Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)? Being GMP certified does not ascertain that the soil quality of the plants used in the manufacturing process is good.

Therefore, it is up to you to promote the need for certified organic soils to be used in the production of plants for supplements.

You can do this by getting your produce from organic farmers at your local farmers’ market or health food stores.

You can even talk to your local food stores to carry organic produce and food supplements in their inventory.

4. Does the Vitamin C supplement contain the whole-plant concentrate, including associated phytonutrients?

Since vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients have been shown to work in synergy with each other to provide the best benefits for your body, it is important for you to insist on whole-plants for your supplements.

It is important for you to pick a vitamin C supplement that contains both phytonutrients and ascorbic acid since there will be times when your body requires more of the ascorbic acid molecules than the whole-plant phytonutrient that your multi-vitamin provides.

As a result, your phytonutrient content may be diminished but it shouldn’t be completely removed.

5. Are the supplements certified organic from the soil and seed up?

In most cases, the product is only certified organic just from the manufacturing aspect and not from the origin which includes your soil and seeds.

The seed and soil are actually the most important part of the manufacturing process since the ultimate quality of a product depends on its origins.

If a manufacturer outsources most of its plant growing without insisting that the company uses certified organic soil and seeds, you can imagine how the end product will turn out to be right?

Furthermore, if a company decides to cut corners at this juncture, you wouldn’t expect them to scrutinize everything that comes into the production of the supplement right?

6. Is the disintegration time on the tablet about 30 minutes or less?

Vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are no different from foods.

They should take at most 15 to 30 minutes to be assimilated by your body according to the U.S. Pharmacopoeia standard.

7. Does the manufacturer voluntarily adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices from seed to end product and to the The Council for Responsible Nutrition for its fish oil products?

Both question 6 and this question relate to GMP.

It all depends on whether a company voluntarily adheres to the standards of GMP are in control of their supplement quality.

Any company that does not identify with the GMP guidelines shouldn’t deserve your loyalty at all.

More importantly, the fish oil that they produce should comply with standards set by The Council for Responsible Nutrition’s “Omega-3 Monograph” which is the baseline for toxic-free and safe products.

Most importantly, you should make sure that your fish oil provider is a voluntary member of the CRM and that it complies with their standards.

You can typically find this information on the main website of the company.

You will want to make sure that your fish oil supplement has vitamin E added to prevent the fish oil from going rancid.

8. Does the manufacturer assay its entire line for heavy metals, microbiological contaminants and pollutant, and desirable nutrient compounds?

It is a known fact that companies who are food supplements providers do not have to be certified by FDA before marketing their products to the masses.

As such, it is really up to you to do your due diligence by checking out websites like Consumerlab.com for reports of toxins like lead, mercury and PCBs that appeared in some food supplements.

9. Does the manufacturer have published Bio-Assays that I can easily access?

Since toxins are common-place and can ruin the effectiveness of organic compounds, companies should be ethical in their production of products and be held accountable to ensure that they are not including any toxic materials in their food supplements.

10. Does the manufacturer publish an ORAC score on its anti-oxidants that is based on a wide range of Free Radical groups?

ORAC is a measurement to quantify the effectiveness of a food supplement in fighting free radicals.

Therefore, a quality food supplement company should have details on the specific free radical group that its supplement protects you from. (10)

The ONE Thing You Can Do Today

Start supplementing your diet with the Foundational Supplements: a Multi-Vitamin-Multi-Mineral-Phytonutrients and Salmon Omega supplements

Is there a supplement brand that I recommend?

I have personally tried a few supplement brands and found the ones by Nutrilite to be more effective for my situation.

You can read about my supplement regime here. Feel free to use my contact form to reach me personally if you have any queries about the products. I would be happy to share with you my experiences. 🙂

Complete List of Vitamins & Minerals

Water Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, C

Fat Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin A, D, E , 

Source: (11)

List of Minerals

Macrominerals

Sodium

Chloride

Potassium

Calcium

Phosphorus

Magnesium

Sulfur

Microminerals

Iron

Zinc

Iodine

Selenium

Copper

Manganese

Fluoride

Chromium

Molybdenum

Source: (12)

Reference List

1. Smith, Timothy J., M.D.. 2006. Why supplements are necessary. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Why_Supplements_Are_Necessary.shtml. [Accessed 19 August 2016].

2. Harvard School of Public Health. 2014. Nutrition Insurance Policy: A Daily Multivitamin. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/multivitamin/. [Accessed 19 August 2016].

3. Myles, Ian. A. 2014. Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity. Nutrition Journal [ONLINE] 13. Available at: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-13-61 [Accessed: 19 August 2016].

4. European Food Safety Authority. Chemicals in food. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/chemicals-food. [Accessed 23 October 2017].

5. Cheryl Long. 2006. Industrially Farmed Foods Have Lower Nutritional Content. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/nutritional-content-zmaz09jjzraw.aspx. [Accessed 19 August 2016].

6. C. J., Barrow, Land Degradation: Development and Breakdown of Terrestrial Environments. 1991. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

7. Rex Beach. 1936. Modern Miracle Men. [ONLINE] Available at: http://art-bin.com/art/obeach_soils.html. [Accessed 19 August 2016].

8. Sir Eliezer Ben-Joseph. 2005. No More Mass Confusion in the Vitamin Aisle. [ONLINE] Available at: http://naturalsolutionsradio.com/blog/natural-solutions-radio/no-more-mass-confusion-vitamin-aisle. [Accessed 19 August 2016].

9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2016. Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm109760.htm. [Accessed 19 August 2016].

10. Gloria, Askew, R.R.N. and Paquette, Jerre, PH.D. 2008. Secrets of Supplements: The Good, The Bad, The Totally Terrific (pp: 214 – 232). India: Embassy Books Distributors.

11. WebMD. 2014. Vitamins: Their Functions and Sources – Topic Overview. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/tc/vitamins-their-functions-and-sources-topic-overview. [Accessed 18 August 2016].

12. WebMD. 2014. Minerals: Their Functions and Sources – Topic Overview. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/tc/minerals-their-functions-and-sources-topic-overview. [Accessed 18 August 2016].

13. CDC Online Newsroom | CDC. 2017. Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1116-fruit-vegetable-consumption.html. [Accessed 10 December 2017].

14. World Health Organization. 2003. FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PROMOTION INITIATIVE. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/f&v_promotion_initiative_report.pdf. [Accessed 10 December 2017].

15. American Heart Association. 2015. Fruits and Vegetables Serving Sizes. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Fruits-and-Vegetables-Serving-Sizes_UCM_468589_Article.jsp#.Wi1Jct-WbIU. [Accessed 10 December 2017].

Published on 18 Aug 2016
Last updated on 10 Dec 2017

Summary
Supplementation 101 - What You Need To Know About Supplements
Article Name
Supplementation 101 - What You Need To Know About Supplements
Description
New to the world of supplementation? Read on to find out why you need it and how to get started.
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Yeo International
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