It happens all the time. We hear or read something that tells us we need more X and if we take supplement Y, we will feel so much better. Maybe we know someone who sells supplements and they have a supplement for everything under the sun and they are sure miracles will happen if we just buy and take them.
If we look at the truly horrible Standard American Diet, we do quite likely need more X, but popping a tablet may or may not be helpful. Like so many other extremely complicated subjects, there is a lot to know when it comes to supplements and we should not charge ahead without some really good guidance.
When you are in holistic nutrition school, you quickly learn that your body needs everything all the time and you truly can’t fathom how you, let alone the people around you, are functioning. It’s super easy to want to pop some supplements as insurance and to just try and help your poor body out!
Let’s do some supplement myth-busting.
- Are supplements miracle workers? MIRACLE is a pretty strong word but the right supplement at the right time can make a tremendous difference
- Can supplements replace good nutrition? NO WAY
- Are supplements well-regulated or even regulated at all? NOPE
- Does supplement quality matter? YES
- Can supplements do more harm than good? YES
As long as supplement manufacturers slap the phrase “not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases” on the bottle, they can produce and sell supplements. The fact that supplements are not regulated by the government is not all bad though. If we were waiting for the government to sanction certain supplements that are truly helpful, we might be waiting for forever…and we would see the same price gouging and other problems we see now in the pharmaceutical industry.
But, it means that the FDA is in no way overseeing quality, purity, or safety. Practically anything can go in those supplement bottles and no one is watching. That’s one huge efficacy and safety issue.
I see two common issues with clients. I’ve been guilty of both and it is easy to understand why.
- Taking A LOT of supplements. They have collected over the years and you are pretty sure some are helping, not sure about others, and just keep taking them and adding to your collection in hopes they are working their magic. I did this too. Hope in a bottle is enticing. Supplements are confusing. You aren’t feeling good and are searching for help. You are taking things you don’t need, aren’t effective, and might be making things worse.
- Taking poor quality supplements. I have also done this. There are really 4 issues here:
- It’s just a lie, wishful thinking, or has scary side effects.
- The form that the vitamin/herb is in is not doing what you think or even being well-absorbed.
- The source is a poor one and may do more harm than good.
- May have some good ingredients but has a bunch of cruddy fillers.
The bottom line is this:
Supplements can’t do what food can.
You cannot Houdini yourself out of a malnourishment hole with them.
They are important, even transformational, but you need to work with someone to get it right.
I wish I had back the time and money I put into trying to figure out supplements on my own. Now, I help people like me get it right. If you are interested in REALLY tackling your focus, energy, and productivity issues and realize you need some help, I invite you to apply for my free 60-minute breakthrough session.