To Supplement or not to supplement? Which supplements do I need?
The topic of nutritional supplementation can be a challenging one for the layman and even the “expert” to wade through. The following is my current opinion that I have formulated since my re-education started in early 2012. First of all, it became quite clear to me early on that the patients that were the most successful at reversing their disease processes were the ones who were able to do the best job of giving their body what it needed (by way of nutrition, movement, rest, peaceful state of mind, and targeted supplementation) and also avoid what it didn’t need (by way of diet, toxic environment, and toxic lifestyle/mindsets). It sounds too simple, and also so contradictory to our western mindset of “the doctor has the answer.” Really, your body has the answer. When you slice your finger open, your body automatically knows how to initiate the clotting and healing process. It does it perfectly and only at the right time, too late and you bleed to death from a paper cut, too early and you die from making blood clots in the blood vessels inappropriately. The point is, our bodies are designed amazingly to fix themselves if we just give them the raw materials they need and get the blockages out of the way. I tell patients all the time, “You can’t supplement your way to health.” What I mean is that you can’t just take the easy way out and try to cover up your poor diet and lifestyle with supplementation, even really good supplementation. In the perfect world, we could all walk out in our backyard and pick vine ripe fresh veggies and fruit from our own Back To Eden organic garden (see backtoedenfilm.com). Picking the produce when it is vine ripe is key because the plant puts much of the vitamin and mineral into the vegetable/fruit in the last 24-48 hours before it is ripe enough to fall off the vine. Soil that is not sprayed with pesticide will be rich in beneficial bacteria, fungi, and worms which help create a perfect blend of minerals that will allow the plant to produce veggies and fruit which are full of all the vitamins and minerals your body requires.
Modern farming techniques have left our soils very depleted in many minerals. Most vegetables and fruit in the supermarket are significantly depleted in vitamins and minerals (example: pale red, bland, tasteless tomatoes versus a bright red, juicy, homegrown tomato packed with flavor). The primary difference in these two tomatoes is due to the mineral content. UCLA conducted a study a few years ago that showed it would take 43 bowls of 1997 spinach to equal the amount of iron in 1953 spinach.
Here is just a sampling of nutrient loss in our food from 1950 to 1990:
-Carrots, vitamin A 1,000 iu’s down to 583 iu’s
-Beets, vitamin C 10mg down to 4.9mg -Broccoli, calcium 130mg down to 48mg
-Cauliflower, vitamin B-2 0.10mg down to 0.063mg
-Collards, vitamin A 6,870 IU down to 3,824 IU and Vitamin C 100mg down to 35mg
Across the board, studies continue to show that the food we grow is less nutritious food than the food we grew in the past. This leads us to my conclusion that most Americans would benefit from consuming a whole food based multi-mineral/multi-vitamin until they are eating regularly out of their own organic garden full of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. I prefer whole food based vitamins because the plants have combined the vitamins and minerals into a water-soluble food complex that your body recognizes, digests and absorbs better than synthetic vitamins. Plus, there are many other plant chemicals we call phytonutrients that work in synergy with the vitamins and minerals. 98% of all multivitamins on the market are synthetic. I don’t recommend these. Place your current multivitamin in the oven at 350 degrees and watch the black, tarry substance emerge. Most synthetic vitamins come from petroleum products or coal tar.
We do typically recommend a blood and hair analysis to get a better idea of what each individual needs, but I can say that if you have been born to a “standard Amercian” mom and raised in the “standard American” diet and lifestyle then you’ll be deficient in MINERALS. Due to the poor stewardship of our soil and food supply, vegetables and fruits simply lack minerals in particular. On top of that, stress causes the body to leach out minerals, magnesium in particular. So, most people will need a good trace mineral supplement like Fulvic 400x, Celtic Sea Salt or Real Salt, extra magnesium like Magnesium SRT from Jigsaw, and bioavailable copper found in whole food vitamin C and also organ meats like beef liver (you can get these supplementally with desiccated beef liver from Perfect Supplements or Ancestral Supplements and a whole food vitamin C tablet like Innate Response Formulas). Also, because our vegetables and fruits are so depleted of vitamins and minerals I recommend people try and drink a fresh squeezed purple or green juice every day. If this can’t be accomplished then a high-quality powder version ( the plant is juiced and then the water is carefully evaporated off leaving a powder) such as Organigreens from Organixx. As patients continue their healing journey we will add in other targeted nutrients to try and assist the body in re-mineralizing, such as B vitamins found in bee pollen or Rice Bran.
There are many, many good and popular supplements out there but we try hard not to over-do it because I believe there can be some unintended consequences of taking single products, not in balance with other things and taking man-made versions of them. Good examples of these are oral vitamin D supplements, nitric oxide supplements, CoQ 10 supplements, etc. All of these are vital parts of our biochemistry but we prefer to encourage and assist the body in making these naturally. The body knows how to make all of these we just have to remove the things blocking production. This typically boils down to waking up the enzymes that are involved in the synthesis of vitamin D, nitric oxide, and CoQ 10. Enzymes are shut down by excess oxidative stress (typically caused by too much iron in the tissue) and lack of minerals. Bottom line, we are probably best classified as “supplement minimalist”, get it in the food and when you can’t then supplement with a whole food form and focus on minerals primarily.