Eric Bakker N.D.May 17, 2022

And if you take dietary supplements on a regular basis, you won't be the only person doing so, because roughly half of people in the United States do so.  Should you even bother?  Absolutely, let me tell you why!

Eric Bakker Naturopath » Recipes » Supplements

What Supplements Should I Take?

So many people ask us what dietary supplements to take. And so many people come into our clinic with bags and boxes of dietary supplements, including many supplements they don’t really need. This page has a focus on the beginner and the recommendations I make here for nutritional supplementation are for you to first concentrate on getting your diet right. There is little point taking supplements if you don’t eat the right proteins, carbohydrates and fats, as well as making the right basic beverage choices.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements as foods, not medications. Certain health benefits may be claimed on the label. Supplements, unlike pharmaceuticals, cannot claim to “cure, treat, or prevent disease”. (nor should any drug)  Some evidence suggests that certain nutritional supplements can improve health in various ways. Multivitamins, calcium, and vitamins B, C, and D are the most popular nutrient supplements. Calcium promotes bone health, while vitamin D aids calcium absorption. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants, which are chemicals that serve to protect cells and keep them healthy.

During pregnancy, women require iron, and breastfed babies require vitamin D. Folic acid, in the form of 400 micrograms per day from supplements or fortified foods, is essential for all women of reproductive age.

Vitamin B12 maintains the health of nerve and blood cells. “Because vitamin B12 is mostly found in meat, fish, and dairy foods, vegans may want to consider taking a supplement to ensure that they get enough,” Haggans explains.

Fish oil has been shown to improve heart health in studies. Omega 3 fish oil certainly has the best scientific evidence to support its use of supplements that aren’t made up of vitamins and minerals.

Other common supplements’ health effects are also well documented in the scientific literature, like glucosamine and chondroitin (for joint pain) and herbal medicines like echinacea (for immunological health) and flaxseed oil are just a few examples (digestion).

Many supplements have little side effects and pose little danger if any. However, take care. Blood thinners will be less effective if you take vitamin K. Blood thinning may be increased by ginkgo. St. John’s wort is a herb that can help with depression, anxiety, and nerve pain, but it can also hasten the breakdown of many medicines, including antidepressants and birth control pills, making them less effective.

A supplement’s labelling as “natural” does not guarantee that it is safe. Comfrey and kava, for example, have been known to cause liver damage.

“It’s critical to understand the chemical makeup, how it’s prepared, and how it operates in the body,” Haggans explains. “Ask your doctor if you need a supplement in the first place, the dosage, and any potential interactions with any medications you’re taking.”

Check the percent Daily Value (DV) for each component to ensure you’re not overdoing it on vitamins and minerals. “The DV and upper limit must be considered,” Haggans says. Some supplements can be dangerous if consumed in excess.

Even concerning common vitamins, scientists are still learning a lot. Unexpected evidence about vitamin E was uncovered in a recent study. Men who used vitamin E supplements may be less likely to get prostate cancer, according to previous study. “However, a big NIH-funded clinical trial of more than 29,000 men found that taking vitamin E supplements increased, not decreased, their risk of this disease,” says Dr. Paul M. Coates, director of the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. As a result, clinical investigations of supplements are necessary to prove their effectiveness.

The FDA does not test the quality of supplements or study their effects on the body because they are classified as foods rather than medications. The FDA has the authority to restrict or prohibit the use of a product once it has reached the market.

The purity of the product is also the responsibility of the manufacturer, who must accurately list the ingredients and their proportions. However, there is no regulatory body that ensures that labels match the contents of bottles. You may receive fewer or more of the ingredients specified. There’s a chance that not all of the ingredients are stated.

A few non-profit organisations undertake supplement quality checks and issue seals of approval. This doesn’t mean the product works or is safe; it only means it was created properly and includes the contents specified.

“Products sold across the country in stores and online should be fine,” Coates says. “Herbal cures touted for weight loss and sexual or athletic performance improvement are the most likely supplement items to be tainted with pharmaceutical chemicals, according to the FDA.”

Take a Multivitamin Daily

It has always been my goal to limit the amount of dietary supplements our patients take. I absolutely believe you can obtain most all of the nutrition you need from wholesome food, providing you eat a wholesome diet that is.

There are some exceptions to this however, but I sincerely doubt anybody would benefit from taking the 38 dietary supplements couple of plastics bags of supplements that many so people take.  However, if you’re looking for an all-inclusive insurance policy, I take one of the best and most comprehensive high quality multivitamins on the market, made from the finest raw materials available.

Take a quality multi-vitamin each and every day. But don’t just take any multi, make sure you are taking in a natural product which is not synthetically based. Many supplements are based on synthetic vitamins and minerals and are mass produced and churned out to a population who are unsure of their quality. Higher quality multivitamins cost more than most of the stuff you’ll find on Amazon and IHerb, but are certainly worth it.

Take an Omega 3 Supplement Every Day

I personally take and recommend that you take an omega 3 daily . Clean, fresh oil made from fish caught in a sustainable manner in the cleanest ocean remaining – the Southern Ocean. Don’t be fooled, it is important to understand the difference between the “good, bad and ugly” when it comes to the dirty business of recommending an Omega 3 fish oil. Ensure you buy  a premium quality concentrated DHA & EPA.

Make sure you get enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiencies are quite common today. There has been a renewed interest in Vitamin D, and the interesting thing I find about Vitamin D is the amount of attention it has been given only the past few years or so and this is because of its connection with immunity and in particular with cancer. An increased cancer risk has been now positively linked with Vitamin D deficiency, and there is ample cancer in Australia and New Zealand for you to pay particular attention to this kind of research. According to a study conducted in 2020, nine out of ten Covid 19-related deaths may be attributed to Vitamin D deficiency.

You would think because of the high sunlight levels in Australia and New Zealand that deficiencies of this vitamin would be uncommon, but this is clearly not the case. If a person lacks vitamin D, they have not only a higher chance of getting rickets and having soft bones, but are also more likely to get cancer and have an increased tendency to develop any one of several chronic diseases. Why do you potentially lack this crucial vitamin? Because you spend a lot of time indoors, your diet is probably lacking in food sources rich in Vitamin D (organ meats like liver and other sources such as fish), and if you do go outdoors you will probably “cover up” or wear a sunscreen. Please go to our Vitamin D page to learn a lot more about this most important vitamin.

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