To Supplement or Not?

To supplement or not, that is the question. And a tricky question at that. As we’ve seen lately (as in the post on prostaglandins), the human body is a complex system of checks and balances (with loops and networks), that can differ from person, which mean supplementing can differ from person to person. As you know I like to mimic paleo/primal/hunter-gatherer/early-man. This man didn’t have a pill for every different symptom or for each vitamin and mineral that they needed. They didn’t know what they meant, they just ate what was available and plentiful (they did thrive and evolve, allowing for a our current brain progression). Today we are tempted by man-made production, and continuously swallow things that veer from our ancestral diet.We want a magic pill, rather than to change our habits (we’ve become a nation of pill poppers).We’ve gotten ourselves out of whack. Money lies at the core of this issue. Food producers aren’t concerned about your health, but what’s going to last and sale off the shelf. Same thing with big pharma. They fund the studies, therefore they push the information that is out there, so that pharmaceutical drugs are common prescription to many people’s days. We look at how to treat what’s already wrong. We don’t worry about heart disease until cholesterol is high (then we just prescribe statins instead of trying to look at what is causing the elevated levels of cholesterol-inflammation, doesn’t that seem to be the cause of most disease, therefore looking at a lifestyle to prevent inflammation would prevent future problems. No that’s too hard, we want a quick fix), or until we are already vitamin deficient. I would be naive to think that people are going to change their eating habits completely to mimic those of these paleo men. So the key is to mix our past with our scientific discoveries. With contaminated oceans and skewed vitamin/mineral ratios, supplements can have. Let’s start with the fish. A 1:1 or 4:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is what is desired. What are most Americans ratios? Some are 11:1, or some are as bad as 20:1. Processed foods are laden with omega-6 (so this means freezer pizzas, ice creams, chips, ding-dong’s and on-and-on). Obviously decreasing your intake of processed foods is a start. Next increase omega-3. Technically we could consume more wild fish, grass-fed meat and pastured eggs are higher in omega-3. Problems are contamination threats of seafood and most conventional grocery stores don’t carry grass-fed problem (and let’s face it a lot of people are cheap and don’t want to shell out the extra money for the quality. If you ask me I think it’s better to pay a little more now than to pay for it later in life in the form of disease and medical bills, but that’s just me). An easier way to get omega-3 is to take fish oil, whether is cod liver oil (like we discussed last week) or pharmaceutical grade oil. You want to make sure you pay out more for the trusted name. Check out to see tested and pure oils. I take a teaspoon of fish oil each day. The DHA in this is going to be great for your brain health. Next let’s look at all the vitamins and minerals that we investigated on Sunday. We’ve learned that vitamins are a complex system of compounds working together in the body. Therefore taking isolated amounts of all of the vitamins, probably isn’t going to get you very far (it’s kind of like using weight machines. You singling out each muscle, but they’re not working together as they would naturally. It’s not functional or symetrical). As you can see by Sunday’s post by eating quality animals fats, fruits, vegetables, seafood and salt you’ve covered most of your bases when it comes to vitamins and minerals. The things is to look at the supplement forms. Water-soluble vitamins come in a synthetic form. Sometimes the supplements aren’t the proper type of vitamin (remember that some vitamins have more than one form, like vitamin B has 17). Sometimes these vitamins don’t absorb properly like they do by ingesting forms of the vitamin. Sometimes we can get too much of one vitamin and not another (like I said they work together).That’s why if you feel you need to supplement you should look for sources in forms closest to those found in food because they’ll generally be absorbed and utilized better. Look for ones with as little processing as possible. Usually supplement companies stearates (a manufacturing agent), that allows them to speed up production, as well as allergenic binders, fillers and coloring agents (which can have side effects and decrease absorption). So make sure the brand that you get is a trusted/natural source. Supplementing has shown in isolated vitamins to temporary beneftis disease conditions, the best source of vitamins over the long term is through properly prepared foods. Like I said Sunday a balance of animal fats (raw butter, cheese, milk) and proteins (yolks, organ meats), vegetables (look organic,as farming today has dimished vitamin content), salt, and bone broths can provide an array of what you need. Fiber and enzymes can come from plant, raw and fermented foods. Instances were supplements can hurt:

  • synthetic vitamin A can be toxic (especially for those with liver dysfunction and others with poor diets)
  • usable B12 (we’ll look at this important vitamin next week) is only found in animal foods
  • Megadoses of isolated ascorbic acid (think vitamin C) can lead to vitamin P deficiency or imbalance
  • Synthetic vitamin D has been linked to hyperactivity, coronary heart disease, and other allergic reactions
  • Many ‘colloidal’ minerals can contain undesirable additives (like citric acid) or other minerals that may be toxic in large quantities (silver or aluminum)

This article may seem a bit wishy washy, but here’s the important lesson:

  • change of eating style over the long-term with vitamin and mineral dense foods and decreased consumption of processed foods, sugars, and grains (phytic acid,as we looked at Sunday wrecks havoc on the body)
  • look for trust-worthy brands of supplements, and check the supplement is the correct form of vitamin
  • decrease lifestyle choices that effect absorption: refined flour, hydrogenated fats, alcohol intake, tobacco and other drugs, stress

Like everything else we’ve discussed (hormones, exercise, sleep and stress), balance is key. A balance of foods over a life span and healthy life habits will make for a better vitamin/mineral balance in the body. For more on our fat-burner weight loss program check out our website at


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