Let’s define what a nutritional supplement is.
I would guess that every single person has been exposed to some type of nutritional supplement. Whether it be a juice, shake, pill, or some other form of product. There are commercials, infomercials, network marketing companies, and retail stores dedicated to selling these products. For anyone who has ever been in one of the retail stores, we likely have shared the same two questions. What do I start with? and Why does it all cost so much?
Not only am I going to try to answer those questions but I hope to give you a enough basic knowledge to know if you should be taking supplements. First we have to define what a supplement is. Thefreedictionary.com provides this definition – “Nutritional supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, meal supplements, sports nutrition products, natural food supplements, and other related products used to boost the nutritional content of the diet.” That’s a pretty broad definition but it’s true, basically everything that is not a part of a food group (meats, grains, fruits, etc.) that provides a positive boost to our nutrition is a supplement. And I would venture to guess that every person needs to supplement their nutrition plan with one or two products. Sorry, candy doesn’t count.
How do I know if I need to add a supplement to my nutrition plan?
One way to find out is to do a fully comprehensive blood test. Granted there is a cost involved with this but it gives a complete picture of what is going on inside your body. The only issue with a blood test is that the results are compared to averages of what doctors and scientists believe are the proper amounts of nutrients to have in your body. You may show as having normal levels of a nutrient but these averages may not be the best number for you as an individual.
A non-invasive way to find out would be to complete a health survey with a nutritionist or health coach. They are able to diagnose deficiencies in your diet simply by looking at what you eat and how your body reacts. The issue here is we do not have the details of a blood test to know exactly what is going on inside. There may be some trial and error adjusting different nutrients to see which one works best. But trail and error to solve one issue may also solve others by improving your nutrient intake.
Another way which is a bit more difficult is to listen to your body. If your body is craving a healthy food type, it’s likely craving the nutrients that food provides. For example, if you have a craving for broccoli you could be low in Magnesium, Iron or a number of other nutrients. But this is not the easiest way to determine which supplements to add to your nutrition plan on a long term basis.
So where do you start?
First let’s assume that you have not had a blood test or completed a health survey. You simply want to make sure you are getting proper nutrients in your body. The best thing to do is look for products that contain multiple nutrients. These will be the best bang for your buck.
For those who have had a blood test, your physician should be able to tell you exactly what nutrient to add. At this point it becomes a question of do I simply buy only that nutrient or do I buy a multi-nutrient product. Cost can be a deciding factor here as most single nutrient products are cheaper than the multiple versions. On the other hand, many times you do not need the high concentrated amount that the single packaging provides. For example, a 500mg Vitamin C tablet is 833% of the recommended daily percent needed. But you can find Vitamin C at 50% or 100% in a multi-vitamin or other supplements.
Lastly let’s look at those who complete a health survey. This is often times the best way to know which supplements, if any, to use. A good health survey will look at your total health and activity levels. A blood test is a single point in time measurement. While they are good for pin-pointing issues, looking at your total lifestyle often gives better long term results. A knowledgeable health professional can help you adjust your meal plan to improve your nutrient intake with food. Then can add proper supplements to address any other issues going on.
How do I know if it is working?
That’s the big question, right. Are you getting any benefits or are you just spending money? Hopefully, if you are truly deficient, you will notice a change in your energy levels, focus, function, etc. This change may take a week or two to show up depending on which nutrient and how deficient you are when you start taking it. If you do not see or feel a change I suggest consulting the person who recommend the supplement. It is possible to take too much of a given nutrient but that rarely causes any big negative side effects. Any extra will be filtered out of your body by your kidneys. If you notice that your urine is bright, yellowish, greenish you may be supplementing too much. It’s not that big of a deal except that you paid for that to be filtered out of your body and not used.
I do recommend supplements. Each person is a little different so there is no way for me to say “This one is the only one you should take”. There are a lot of good supplements on the market but there are also some not so good ones. Beware of supplements with high sugar content or anything that has high fructose corn syrup. I typically recommend multi-nutrient supplements that have high vitamin contents as well as amino acids. These are two nutrient groups that get lost in the processing of foods in our society.
I hope this helps you navigate the world of supplements. Remember to ask questions before you buy/try anything. This could be the best money you spend but could also be a waste of money if you don’t know what to get.
What I use
I use supplements from Organifi. They have a variety depending on your needs. I use the Organifi Vanilla Protein shake and Organifi Green Juice daily. I also use a Beet Juice powder from Green Foods daily that I buy at my local HEB grocery store. On occasion I’ll also drink a Matcha Green Tea in the evening to help relax as well.
My wife uses the Organifi Chocolate Protein Shake and Organifi Red Juice daily. We both love their products. If you want to check them out, use the coupon code JERRY15 to get 15% off your order. No, it is not a network marketing business I’m simply a tribe member and can offer a discount to my clients and friends as being one.