Are Dietary Supplements Necessary For
Your Body's Good Health?

Dietary supplements can range from vitamins and minerals to protein powders, amino acids, digestive enzymes, algae powders, and more.

I have mixed feelings about supplements, so I'll share my concerns. I'm not convinced you need supplementation if you are eating an ideal perfectly well-balanced diet for your body. It seems unnatural to me as it's not real food. But most of us don't eat a perfect diet and we live in a modern world full of unnatural things that our ancestors never had to deal with such as plastics, toxins, and numerous chemical exposures daily. And our diet is challenged to be "natural" in the original sense even when eating highly nutritious whole foods thanks to environment contaminants and soil depletion among other things.

So do we need additional vitamins, minerals, and other things to round out our intake of nutrients? Or are they just a way of creating "expensive urine" that you later pee away?

Although dietary supplements are regulated now by the FDA as foods (but do not require FDA approval), you need to be very careful about what claims are made about it and about what's really in it to make sure it's safe. Some supplements are just JUNK — full of additives and sugars and processed stuff. Do your homework. Check out official sites and other sources, such as, to find out the truth.

Some things to consider about dietary supplements:

  • Are you trying to treat a specific condition?
  • What is your goal? Why do you think you need it?
  • What is in it? Is it safe?
  • Will it be absorbed?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Do I need to eat it with food or without food?
  • Will it react poorly with other dietary supplements or foods?

Research the brand to see if it is reputable and if they share any information about their product's absorption rates and effectiveness.

If you do decide to include dietary supplements in your diet, be aware that certain foods may inhibit absorption of the vitamin or mineral. For example, do not take zinc with any citrus foods, such as orange juice. Citrus interferes with the absorption of zinc. And don't drink tea with your multi-vitamins or iron pills as the phenolic compounds in tea inhibit the absorption of iron.

The cost of supplements can add up fast. Determine if the benefits are worth the cost.

Focus on whole foods. If you can give yourself the same benefit by eating more of a whole food, that is almost always the better choice. For example, to get more Vitamin C, eat more broccoli, strawberries, cabbage, kiwi fruit, brussel sprouts, citrus fruits, papaya, or red sweet peppers.

If you are trying to address a specific health condition, perhaps you do need to take a dietary supplement (along with a healthier diet) for a period of time. Work with your doctor or health practitioner to determine what will benefit you the most.

Track how you feel. Use your food journal and exercise journal to see if you notice any improvements in your health during the time you take a supplement. It may take a while (a couple of months perhaps) to see any changes or you may not see any effects. Ask your doctor how long it may take before you will notice changes, if any. Obviously, if you see any negative changes, stop taking the supplement and/or contact your doctor.

Never underestimate the placebo effect! Experiment with a supplement to see if it helps and then stop it (if your doctor is OK with that) and see if you retain the good effects. Sometimes, the perceived benefit is all in our heads (which is great)! Using our mental powers to make ourselves feel better is free and very powerful "medicine."

Because of my health history, personally I seem to have had good results with some enzymes, algaes, amino acids, and especially probiotics. But I cannot prove they helped and I'm not committed to taking them long term. We'll see.

Talk with your health care provider to get more information. Decide what is right for YOU based on your body, your diet, and your budget.

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