There are many fallacies about taking vitamin and mineral supplements and the health benefits they offer. At Helou Chiropractic we don’t like to recommend that people take any supplements without first eating a balanced diet. But there are a few exceptions. Here’s the bottom line on the supplements you should add to your daily routine, but before you do, be sure to check with your GP - especially if you are taking prescriptive medications or have special health concerns.
Fish or Krill Oil
The first exception is an Omega 3 fish oil supplement that everyone should be taking daily. Every single cell in our bodies benefits from the Omega 3 fatty acids they offer, but they’re especially great for brain and heart health and decreased inflammation and other generalised pain. Omega 3 fatty acids can also effectively accelerate the fat burning process when combined with diet and exercise.
Opt for a high-quality omega-3 supplement. One of the best sources of omega-3 fats is from Antarctic krill oil. Although high-quality fish oils will do as well, they are highly perishable and can easily become rancid inside of your body if you don’t get enough antioxidants. Krill oil, on the other hand has endogenous antioxidants right in it, which greatly reduces any concerns of rancidity.
Food sources: Atlantic salmon, mackerel and anchovies are especially good sources. Flax seed oil, beans (mainly black beans and kidney beans), walnuts, omega 3 enriched eggs and dairy foods, grass-fed meat.
Our bodies make vitamin D naturally when exposed to sunlight, but that may not be enough. Small amounts of vitamin D can also be found in food sources such as fish, liver and eggs, but it’s almost impossible to get all your vitamin D from food. A deficiency can lead to symptoms of fatigue and immune response issues. Supplementing with vitamin D3 can help boost your immune defenses and help ward off sicknesses like the flu and cold.
Most of us are deficient, so ask your GP to test your D levels so you know your baseline before taking supplements. If you do need supplements, look for D3 which is the kind that is best absorbed by the body.
Food sources: Wild salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, and eggs.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria in the form of a nutritional supplement or fermented food, which can be taken in an attempt to replace or supplement damaged indigenous gut flora. Probiotics are essential to balance between the good and bad bacteria in our gut, and many of us are deficient when it comes to the good kind. This imbalance hinders our digestion, causing poor absorption of nutrients and a possible decrease in our immune response.
While a healthy diet is the ideal way to maintain a healthy gut, regularly consuming traditionally fermented or cultured foods is the easiest way to ensure optimal gut flora. Healthy options include fermented vegetables like cabbage and carrot and fermented milk such as kefir or yogurt (but not commercial kinds which are typically loaded with sugars that feed pathogenic bacteria).
That being said, if you don’t enjoy the taste of fermented foods, taking a high quality probiotic supplement is advised. A good probiotic on average increases absorption rate of nutrients from food by 50% or more. Look for a supplement that delivers:
Vitamins and minerals
With the advent of ‘health pills’ in our society today, taking a daily multivitamin has become popular, that even a lot of foods you buy at the supermarket are now fortified with vitamins and minerals to compensate for the loss of those nutrients in food processing. However, a lot of these supplemented nutrients are synthetic. Our body has been designed to use natural forms of these nutrients and often do not recognise the synthetic forms and doesn't know what to do with them.
In addition, many supplements on the market have a very low absorption rate – some even as low as 9%, so the amount you get is actually way below what it says on the bottle. The absorption of supplements is a complicated process which, apart from the quality of the supplement, also depends on the state of a person’s digestive system. Two different people may absorb different amounts of nutrients from the same supplement. To complicate this further, many nutrients compete for absorption sites in the gut. So, if we supplement too much calcium for example, it may impair absorption of other nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, copper iron, and some amino acids, creating deficiencies in those nutrients.
This is a very complex and confusing area of nutrition. The truth being that there is not enough research or knowledge on vitamin prescription. Ideally you would get your vitamins and minerals from a well balanced diet consisting of nutrient dense foods.
If you want to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement to fill in some blanks in your diet, not to re-write the whole nutritional story, then we suggest you invest in a high quality product, based on whole foods. And, where possible, try to keep supplementation to a minimum. For example if you don’t eat dairy or have iron absorption problems, you can choose to add some calcium or an iron supplement but for the most part, we recommend that you get your vitamins and minerals from a plate and not in a pill!
Food sources: A well balanced diet consisting of: green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, fresh fruits, beans, lentils, raw nuts and seeds, whole grains like oats, barely, and buckwheat, quinoa, bulgur, rice, fish, eggs, chicken, red meat etc.
Yours in good health,
The team at Helou Chiropractic
The content of Peak Health for Every Body blog are for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.