Supplementation: The Good, The Bad, and My Opinions

Okay, so I could go on and on about supplements, and if you have ever attended one of my nutrition courses, you probably know that first-hand!  I felt compelled to address the issue of supplementation.  As I am preparing for my next nutrition course,  I am going through topics that I want to cover, questions everybody wants answers to, etc.  What I find every single time is that people want to know what supplements they should be taking.  My answer is always the same: “The only supplements you should take are the nutrients you can’t get sufficiently from foods.”

Supplementation and nutraceuticals have taken over the alternative health industry, and I am never surprised anymore when someone brings me a bag of supplements they are taking (on top of their medications).  I want to say loud and clear “No supplement will make up for poor lifestyle choices!”  There will NEVER be a pill of any sort that makes it good for your body to have fast food.  There will NEVER be a pill of any sort that makes up for not eating vegetables.  There is a huge misconception when it comes to vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies that they will help cure your disease processes.  NOT TRUE!  The body only functions properly, free of disease if it is fed the right building blocks in sufficient amounts, given adequate exercise, relieved of stress, and had all toxins removed from its environment.  You should ONLY supplement things that you cannot get from your food, not in place of food.

So, there is someone out there saying “But what about my osteoporosis?  I need Calcium! ”  Another one I hear quite often is “I get my nutrients from my One-A-Day multivitamin.”  I could go on and on with statements I hear from patients regarding why they need their supplements.  Without going into detail about why this is simply not the case, I want everyone to ask themselves, “if we need supplements to keep us from having osteoporosis, then how did people stay clear of it when there was no such supplement?” Studies have shown skeletal remains of hunter gatherer societies with more the sufficient bone density at old ages.  “If we need a multivitamin for vitamins, what did healthy populations do before us in order to get their RDAs?” The answer to almost any question like that is “They did not need them because when you exercise adequately and eat raw, whole foods for nutrients, you simply don’t have to take a pill!”  Taking a pill for your nails, one for your heartburn, one for your immune system, one for your bone density, etc. is the exact same concept as taking 10 prescription drugs to cover up the symptoms that your body is not functioning properly because it lacks essential changes to your lifestyle.

I will say that there are 4 supplements that I believe every individual should consider taking due to modern farming techniques and agriculture today.  The 4 essentials are fish oil, probiotics, whole foods, and vitamin D (if you live an area where adequate sunlight is deficient).   I will elaborate on these supplements and the reason for the need to supplement with them in upcoming posts.  For now, I just want every person to ask themselves how many supplements they are taking, where they can find them in nature, and choose to get those nutrients from food instead.  Nature has created us everything we need for sufficiency, I promise.

Side note: I do use supplements like medication in acute care situations, but they are not lifelong pills someone takes forever.  They are used sort of like an antibiotic for infection.  You take the pill until the patient is better, and then you STOP taking it.  For sake of ease, these supplement posts on based on supplementing nutrients you should be getting from food.

2 thoughts on “Supplementation: The Good, The Bad, and My Opinions

  1. Rich Toth

    Hi Dr. Lucterhand,
    What support to the body is provided by taking fish oil. I have read articles both positive and negative. I have a bottle of 1,000mg. Of which there is 300 mg. Of Omega 3 by Natures Bounty, cholesterol free. Being 65 now, how important is this supplement?

    • Rich-
      That’s a complicated question because without knowing health history, it can be hard to determine the need. I would say food is always your best source: salmon, tuna, grassfed beef, wild game. Your need goes up with inflammatory conditions (think chronic long standing issues). 3g (3000mg) a day is a good dose for those with increased need for anti-inflammatory properties. I will be posting more about fish oil soon, so stay tuned for specifics on what you need and how to find it!

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