“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating, will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley
It is estimated that 64% of American adults take dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, or herbs. This comes as no surprise when one considers the myriad of nutrients our bodies need daily to function optimally, teamed with the challenges of a depleted food supply that makes it more difficult to get those nutrients. Many health professionals will conclude that if you eat a healthy, balanced diet you will meet all your nutritional needs. Whereas, this may have been true a few decades ago, it has become much more difficult and rare now that many people are sustaining on highly-processed foods that are high in calories, but low in nutrients. Nutritional supplements can not make up for a poor diet, but they can help to fill in the gaps. In addition, given the therapeutic benefits of some supplements such as turmeric, fish oil, and vitamin D, which are hard to come by in the average diet, supplementation makes sense for many.
Nutrition Supplement Tips
- Nutritional supplements are regulated by the FDA. They are considered safe until proven harmful. Therefore, it is important to purchase supplements from reputable suppliers that follow good manufacturing practices and meet USP standards.
- “We have convincing evidence of known or likely benefit from supplemental omega-3 oils and vitamin D for most men and women, and calcium for most women.” – Dr. David Katz
- B-12 supplementation is required for those with pernicious anemia and vegetarians.
- Pregnant women need to be diligent about getting enough iron, calcium, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids.
- It is very important to tell your health care provider about any supplements you are taking, or better yet, work with a naturopath or dietitian to be sure that you are supplementing safely.
Articles on Nutrition Supplements
Editor’s Note: I have been a supporter of nutritional supplementation for many years, particularly after spending years in my nutrition practice attempting to plan nutritionally complete meals. Using software to analyze daily intake for vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fats, I found it was nearly impossible to get the balance just right while maintaining the appropriate amount of calories. As such I have written numerous articles on the benefits of nutrition supplements; see the links below for a sampling. – Michelle Gibeault Traub, M.A., R.D.
- Be Supplement Savvy – American Legion Article (PDF)
- What’s Missing from Your Diet – American Legion Article (PDF)
- Fight Cancer with Food – American Legion Article (PDF)
Supplements for Autoimmune Disease
- Autoimmune Disease and Naturopathic Treatment – an article detailing the nutritional supplements and dietary approaches helpful in treating autoimmune disease.
- Autoimmune Disease Protocol– a nutritional protocol from supplement manufacturer Life Extension.
Nutrition Supplement Resources
Are you at risk for nutritional deficiencies? – April 2012 article from Consumer Reports highlighting findings from the CDC.
ConsumerLab.com – www.consumerlab.com – an independent lab that tests dietary supplements for purity.
Dietary Supplements Labels Database – http://dietarysupplements.nlm.nih.gov/dietary/index.jsp – information on the ingredients in more than 7,000 selected brands of dietary supplements from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Computer Access to Research on Dietary Supplements (CARDS) – http://ods.od.nih.gov/Research/CARDS_Database.aspx – a database of federally funded research on dietary supplements searchable by supplement or dietary ingredient.
United States Pharmacopeia (USP) – www.usp.org – a nonprofit organization that sets standards for dietary supplements, medicines, and ingredients. Supplements that pass their verification process are allowed to use the USP symbol on packaging.
“Botanicals & You” from the Council for Responsible Nutrition
“Could Your Multivitamin Kill You?” October 14, 2011. Dr. David Katz
[Last Updated: 10/21/15]