Supplement Myths Debunked

Misconceptions about nutritional supplements range from “They’re dangerous!” to “Supplements are more important than food!”

When taken appropriately, nutritional supplements can provide exactly that:  extra nutrients your body needs that you aren’t getting from your diet. In this case, supplements are an intelligent, healthy way to nourish your body.

Below we uncover the truth about common supplement myths.

Myth 1: “Supplements are bad for you.”

Nutritional supplements are created to improve your health and maximize the function of your body. But too much of anything can lead to health issues.

Typically, supplements are not harmful if taken as recommended. They offer a variety of vital nutrients—like vitamins, minerals, “good” fats, antioxidants, amino acids and more—that are missing in your diet. There’s a whole world of supplements available, and each has a different benefit.

If you’re unsure, meet with your physician prior to choosing a nutritional supplement. Also, do not to mix supplements with prescription medications without first consulting your doctor.

If your goal is to add missing nutrients to your already healthy diet, then nutritional supplements are not a scary prospect.

Myth 2:  “Vitamin C is Vitamin C: It doesn’t matter whether it comes from a lab or from food.”

Synthetic vitamins (or vitamins created in a lab) are not the same as whole food. In fact, they can do more harm than good.

  • Synthetics are “isolates.”  This means they do not offer the complexity found in natural compounds, but instead provide only one isolated part. This could mitigate the effect of a supplement.

For instance, natural forms of vitamin E contain a complex blend of tocopherols and tocotrienols (along with other trace elements), whereas some man-made vitamin E supplements only contain one tocopherol. The difference is that the synthetic Vitamin E is only about half as active as the same amount of natural Vitamin E.

  • Man-made nutrients are often too concentrated.  Supplements made in a lab often contain too much of one isolate. The body typically processes this kind of supplement as a xenobiotic—a foreign substance—and the small intestine will prevent its absorption to protect cells from overload.
  • Many synthetic supplements lack quality. Some vitamin companies use filler ingredients to keep costs down.  Read the labels and make sure to look for whole food ingredients. Avoid additives like hydrogenated oil, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. Some manufacturers even use toxic fillers, such as titanium dioxide, that can build up in the body and potentially cause immune system failures.

In whole foods, however, a variety of naturally occurring substances work together to maximize nutrient absorption and effectiveness. Whole food supplements are made from concentrated fruits and vegetables; high-quality, organic products will offer the best nutrition. Antioxidants, enzymes, coenzymes, minerals and other compounds work together in supplement form to carry out jobs at the cellular level, just as they do in nature.

Myth 3: “I can get enough nutrients from the food I eat.”

Many people ask, “If I eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, do I really need a supplement?”

The answer is yes. You can still benefit from a dietary supplement.

Unsustainable farming practices have removed vital nutrients from our soil. Today, some fruits and vegetables—like commercially grown pineapple, broccoli and cauliflower—have half as many minerals as they did 40 years ago.  This lack of nutrients can wreak havoc on the systems of your body.

Dietary supplements can help make up for this nutrient deficiency to fuel the systems of your body, like digestion.

About 100 million Americans have trouble with digestion, and for these people, even the healthiest foods can exit the body before nutrients have a chance to act. Enzyme imbalances play a large role in digestive problems, and can stem from: drinking too much liquid with your meal, eating food cooked at high temperatures, and eating highly processed foods.

By avoiding processed foods, cutting down the liquid consumed at each meal and taking the proper nutritional supplement, you provide your body the nutrients necessary to overcome digestive problems.

Myth 4: “Vitamins will cure me like a magic pill.”

For a variety of ailments (stomach trouble, fatigue, headaches and acne), vitamin deficiency may only be part of a more complex problem.

Optimal health should be approached holistically. While vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements can be a significant part of your journey to optimal health, they cannot replace the value of a balanced, whole-food diet and daily activity.

Lifestyle factors—how much you sleep, how often you sit, your exposure to toxic substances—contribute to total health more than most people realize. When chosen carefully and taken in appropriate dosages, supplements can round out the nutrition portion of your total health.

But there isn’t anything magical about them. If you take care of yourself and your life—in all aspects—you’re overall level of health will improve.

Dietary supplements can play a vital role in a healthy diet. Food is more than meat, bread and vegetables. It fuels you. It rebuilds you. It even plays a role in disease prevention.  By avoiding dangerous additives, preservatives and sugar, you can turn your body into a cancer killing machine.

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