Are Supplements Part of Healthy Eating?

Supplements are a big market, to the tune of approximately $37 billion a year. I was once a part of that industry. (Taking them, not making or selling them.)

After my brain injury, my blood test levels were quite low: My iron, vitamin D, vitamin B, and white blood count plummeted. Other levels were off as well, but it’s been so long, I can’t remember what they were.

In any case, my doctor put me on a bunch of supplements: Iron, Vitamin D, calcium (because I don’t eat dairy due to an allergy), fish oil (to help my brain), a multi-vitamin, and protein powder (I’m guessing this was also to help my brain). I also took Calm (magnesium supplement) occasionally to help during bad evenings when I wasn’t sure if I’d sleep, bee pollen (to help with my allergies), nutritional yeast (vitamin B), and acidophilus to help with my never-ending bout of stomach aches.

Over the course of time, I improved. My blood levels increased, except for my white blood count, which is always low. (We’ve come to the conclusion it’s probably due to environmental allergies.)

At the same time I was taking supplements, I began changing my diet. I started eating more whole foods and less processed. I also ate mainly organic, and lots and lots of fruits and vegetables. I juiced whenever I could, and made meat more of a side dish and less of a main course.

My health was looking up. As my brain and body improved, I got to wondering, are all these supplements necessary? Is it the supplements making me better, or is it the food?

I did some research. This is what I found:

*Supplements aren’t well-regulated. They don’t need preapproval by the FDA, and the companies that produce them don’t have to provide evidence that the supplement is safe. Read:
http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm047470.htm

*Since they aren’t a prescription, it’s easy to overdose. (Yes, you definitely can overdose on vitamins. It’s serious.) Check out:https://smartypantsvitamins.com/the-overdose-risks-of-vitamins-why-proper-dosage-matters/ and
http://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/supplements-remedies/can-you-overdose-on-vitamin-and-mineral-supplements/

*The FDA can recall a product, but there are so many companies, it’s almost certain they can’t keep up. Really, anyone can put together a supplement and sell it. How scary is that? Check this out: http://www.consumerreports.org/vitamins-supplements/we-made-this-weight-loss-supplement/

*There can be additives in the product that may not be listed on the bottle, or might be written in such a way that you don’t know exactly what you’re getting. http://consumerhealthchoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Dangerous_Supplements.pdf

*23,000 people end up in the emergency room each year after taking a supplement. http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/23000-people-us-end-er-annually-because-supplements/

*Supplements can interfere with drugs, and even other supplements. https://www.drugs.com/slideshow/herb-drug-interactions-1069

After reading all this, I was sick. All that money spent on junk sitting in my gut that might actually be causing me more harm than good.

I decided it was time to drop the pill addiction, and rely on the one true drug we’d been given at the beginning of time: Real Food.

I upped my dosage on produce, cut out grains, juiced occasionally, and did everything I could to stay healthy. And you know what? It worked.

It’s been about two-and-a-half years, and I am supplement-free, and healthier than ever. Rarely do I get a cold, but when I do, it lasts a couple of days instead of the seven or ten like it does for most people. I have had a sinus infection, but even that went away quickly. And other than getting tired (which I should by the end of the day-I work hard), I am really, really healthy.

(Research has shown that people who take supplements are generally already concerned about health. They exercise, eat right, drink in moderation, don’t smoke, and rarely eat out.)

I can’t say for certain that the supplements didn’t contribute to my improvement, I can only say I don’t need them now. I have a new medicine cabinet, supplements supplied by nature.

My new medicine cabinet: Fruits, vegetables, daily greens (produce equals 10-12 per day, on bad days I get 8)- I do smoothies to ensure I get my daily needed allotment of produce; nuts; lentils and beans; fish; olive and coconut oils, along with avocado and walnut occasionally; organic, whole meats; no dairy; no grains; homemade fudge (recipe: equal amounts of honey, melted coconut oil, cocoa powder; stir; add extras like: walnuts, shredded coconut, cinnamon or sea salt; place in 8 x 12 pan and freeze; cut into 48 bars); other desserts are usually raw; baked products and processed foods are minimal.

I’m still allergic to dairy, but a recent bone scan assured me, and my doctor, that my bones were stronger than ever. Apparently there’s a lot of calcium to be found in greens. And there’s a lot to be said for walking and lifting weights.

I am not a medical professional, or in the nutritional field. I can only tell you what worked for me. While I think there is still a place for a few supplements, I think the overall strategy we were given at the beginning of time provides us with every vitamin and mineral we need.

I’m not saying never take a supplement, but please, before you do, know the facts. And always see your doctor.

Here’s to healthy living!

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