Supplements | Which Ones Benefit You?

Posted on February 13, 2012

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Watch the news any day of the week & you’ll hear at least 1, if not more, stories about which vitamin or supplement scientists have isolated as having potential to reduce the risk of (x) disease. And so folks will often go 1 of 2 routes with vitamins/supplements: they will either have a massive arsenal of every vitamin under the sun, or they’ll say ‘forget it’ to the whole thing and take no vitamins or supplements.

What is “right” lies somewhere between those two extremes. While I cannot tell YOU which supplements are good/bad, needed/unnecessary (I have to tell you to talk to your doctor about that, although many docs are not trained in this & thus, won’t have much to tell you) I’d like to share with you an exchange I had with a client this weekend regarding supplements as it may be beneficial in helping you decide what’s best for you.

Again, I do not endorse or recommend any of the supplements I discuss below for you – they are just supplements that I’ve read plenty of research about, use myself, and were recommended to me by my naturopath. It’s my hope that you’ll use this as a jumping off point to look further into the food you’re eating to see if it’s fully fueling your nutrient needs, or if you need to add a little something to either your food, your supplements, or both.

As a reminder – the science of isolating 1 vitamin as having potential to ward off disease is flawed logic. In nature, vitamins and minerals are delivered to you in combination with all the other vitamins & minerals within that food. More than likely, it is the combination of the vitamins, minerals, & macronutrients (protein, carbs & fat) that aid in warding off disease. So bear in mind that a whole-food approach to health is really the best way to go after disease prevention & long-term health. Unfortunately, there are some variables that we aren’t in control of & that is where a supplement could be of-value in a persons’ health regimen.

Hey Kate –

I just finished my multi-vitamin & since you are knowledgeable…do you have any recommendations of brands or what multivitamins will suffice or complement a runner’s diet? Good quality natural stuff. I know you are very aware and informed. I used to take enzymes,probiotics, etc. Lost track of that.

Thanks,

Carmen

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Hi Carmen!

Vitamins…ok, this category is 1 that I think can be beneficial but also can/should ebb and flow based on what’s currently happening in your fitness/wellness life. For instance, I’m doing a different kind of training for this next half marathon where I work out 2x/day – so my naturopath has significantly increased my electrolyte intake to help recovery/dehydration, but in previous training periods, he raised my ubiquinol/Co-Q10 intake and NOT my electrolytes..so if not careful, we can end up taking a ridiculous amount of supps as we try to “manage” all the things we need our body to do. So unless we’re using a naturopath or homeopathic doc/chiro/oriental med doc to help assign what is most needed – I like to keep it really simple. Because if you’re eating healthfully, there are only a few supps that make a really big impact that almost everyone could use in their line-up.

These supps are:
1)a good quality probiotic – I use one from “Orthomolecular” that my naturopath sells at his office – it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and contains 20billion strains per serving (a really good amt!). There are, of course, tons of options in the health food store for something like this, it’s good to find one w/ a broad-spectrum quantity of strains and a high # of strains per serving. Not needing refrigeration just makes it easier to have them and not need to worry about them going bad on the counter.

2)fish oil – I like Carlsons and I take their pill form, not their liquid form. They are high-quality purveyors of fish oil. I take 1 w/ each meal based on the amt in each pill.

3)a digestive enzyme that contains HCl (hydrochloric acid) to ensure you have enough acid in your stomach to breakdown and absorb the nutrients in your food. Most people do not have enough acid…even though the antacid commercials would like you to believe you have too much. NOW Brand has a few enzymes that contain HCl or ox bile which has the same effect as HCl.

4)vitamin D – there are sprays for under the tongue you can buy, as well as pill form versions. As long as the supp is vit D3 and not vit D2, which is unabsorbable by the body, you’re good to go. It’s always best to get your levels tested so you know just how much you need to take to get up to adequate levels (being at optimal vitD level is nearly impossible to do w/o a supplement if you live in the North as we do). There are many places you could get your levels tested if you wanted, I did an at-home test that you mail in through bioletics (bioletics.com)

5)glutamine – I use NOW brands tablet version. glutamine is a very helpful tool for recovery and muscle growth. guidelines I’ve read up on recommend taking it immediately post-workout when muscles are receptive to the amino acid, and at bedtime when repair is happening over night. this is how I take it. your window post-workout is approx 30-45mins to get your nutrition & supplements into your muscles.

There are, of course, a million other things you *could* take, but since most multivitamins are not high quality and do not get absorbed into your body, I prefer to encourage folks eat a balanced, nutritious diet full of vitamins and minerals. I do know though many frends and clients who use Juice Plus as a sort of ‘back-up’ since sometimes good veggie are hard to come by if forced to eat out. They have chewable gummies and pills I believe.

Hope this helps! Let me know any other ?s

-Kate

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