If we eat a little bit of everything, then we should be missing “nothing”! In that case, why would dietary supplements be relevant and beneficial?
Before diving into this question, let’s talk about the fact that dietary supplements have become very popular. Indeed, we can find them everywhere: in drugstores, in grocery stores, in big-box stores and of course, in health food stores. An easy conclusion to draw from that would be that given their popularity, they are probably useful!
The limitations of our diets
The power of food is limited by many different factors: outdoor pollution, our lifestyle, and especially the quality of the food that is lessened by the many treatments to which it is subjected.
Also affecting the nutritional value of food is the intensive cultivation of crops that has depleted the quality of the soil in the recent decades, the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides... not to mention the push for a longer shelf life for products, exposure to light, irradiation, freezing, thawing and cooking.
Throughout our life, we go through stages where our body needs more nutrients. This is particularly true during children’s growth spurt, during a pregnancy and breastfeeding, during an illness or after, for recovery, in the presence of chronic stress and also, if you regularly practice a sport. Even though we need more nutrients during those times, in reality, it is rare that we change our eating habits…or that we increase the amount of food on our plate!
Does your lifestyle lead to nutritional deficits?
• Do you often eat at restaurants?
• Do you often buy ready-to-eat foods?
• Are you highly stressed or nervous? This increases your need for magnesium and B vitamins.
• Do you smoke? Every cigarette makes you more deficient in vitamin C.
• Do you drink a lot of coffee? Soft drinks? Alcohol? These habits lead to losses of calcium and magnesium that can affect your bone stock.
• Do you have digestive problems? Poor digestion impairs the degradation and correct assimilation of many nutrients.
• Do you skip meals for a lack of time?
• Do you suffer from bowel disorders (irritable bowels, constipation, diarrhea, etc.)? This can reduce your ability to assimilate nutrients.
• Do you follow all the popular diets, even the most unbalanced ones?
• Do you take regular medications? Many medications can cause nutritional deficiencies when taken over the long term. For example, proton pump inhibitors widely prescribed for heartburn reduce calcium uptake. Statins, meant to lower cholesterol, affect CoQ10 which is so important for cardiovascular health. Birth control pills lead to a loss of magnesium and a loss of many B vitamins.
• Do you have many food cravings? Do you eat too much sugar, too much fat or too much salt?
• Do you eat the recommended 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day? If so, congratulations! Are the fruits and vegetables you consume ... organic?
Dietary supplements will never replace healthy eating habits.
Are all dietary supplements equivalent?
The answer is no! There is a significant difference between a synthetic multivitamin & mineral supplement and one that is manufactured with real food concentrates in its formulation. What makes a supplement bioavailable is when it comes as close as possible to nature. In general, you need to pay more to get a good quality product... and it would not make sense to compare the prices of synthetic supplements with those of concentrated superfoods: young green shoots, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, curcumin, etc.
Dietary supplements are not limited to vitamins and minerals, they also include antioxidants, Omega-3s, probiotics, plant extracts, etc. That's why it's best to shop at a health food store where you'll find natural health counselors and naturopaths who can educate you about the composition and the source of the products you want to buy.
What are your needs?
Do not wait for the symptoms to arrive before reacting. Persistent fatigue, low resistance to stress, muscular cramps, sleep disorders, brittle nails, low libido, premenstrual pain, difficulty concentrating, are all signs that can demonstrate a nutritional deficiency. When properly used, natural health products can help you maintain and improve your health. Ask a qualified naturopath for advice!
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