Are vitamins and supplements really necessary? The short answer is YES, absolutely! Now here we go with the long winded answer.
First of all, it’s really difficult to obtain enough nutrients from our diet. Before we can decide if we get enough nutrients from our food, we must agree on how much nutrients we need. Most people who are paying attention to their diet, or even supplementing with synthetic vitamins, are obtaining the RDA levels of nutrients. The RDA or recommended daily allowance was set up in the early 1900s as a way to prevent nutritional diseases such as rickets and scurvy. So great, if you’re getting these amounts your bones won’t fall apart and you won’t have sores and look like a lepar. Is that really our standard of health???? I sure hope not!
You’re body needs Optimal levels of nutrition, not bare minimums to keep you alive and scurvy free. The levels now believed to be adequate are significantly higher than the RDAs. The nutrients you get from food provide vitamins, minerals, bioflavonoids, enzymes and co-enzymes. These are all necessary for the processes that happen inside your body. They also serve another important function. They act as antioxidants!
I’m sure you’ve heard this term thrown around and we all know that antioxidants are so great for us. This is a super in-depth concept that could be a 3 page paper itself. But here’s the gist of it. Your body creates and is exposed to free radicals. These free radicals are responsible for altering the cells in your body. They can cause everything from heart disease to cancer. But your body is awesome, duh because God made it, so it’s awesome! And it can fight these free radicals with its own antioxidant process. Your body uses antioxidants to neutralize these free radicals. Are you still following me?
When you overwhelm this system, you get disease. How do you not over whelm this system when we’re exposed to more and more free radicals in our environment and through our terrible diets, not to mention our crazy stress levels which also increase free radicals? You give it more antioxidants! The same vitamins, minerals and flavonoids we’re getting inadequate amounts of. You see, your body not only needs these substances for the minimum processes to stay alive and scurvy free, but it also needs them to keep your body functioning in tip top shape!
Even if you’re eating really healthy, you are probably not eating high enough amounts to combat this oxidative stress in your body. But if you’re eating the way most American’s eat, you are certainly not eating enough! Not even close. Think about your everyday diet. Are you putting in more good, or more bad? Are you exposing your body to more toxins, or good God given natural foods? And how much nutrients are you really taking in?
Even if we’re eating very healthy foods, nutrients are lost from those foods in a number of ways. When we cook our food for example, we lose nutrients. Now I’m not saying you have to be a raw food vegan, just be aware that nutrients are lost. The mushier those veggies, the less nutrients. Self Nutrition Data has a really nice chart that shows just how much of each nutrient is lost in the cooking process.
We also lose nutrients while our food is sitting on a self, or being shipped across the country. That yummy pomegranate you’re enjoying while sitting on your couch in Michigan DID NOT GROW THERE. It was plucked, shipped, and put on a shelf at the local grocery store, all while losing nutrients. Diane M Barrett wrote a really nice paper about how nutrients are lost from our food.
There are also changes in our farming practices. I don’t know crap about farming. But there are studies that have documented that todays foods have less nutrients than they did in the past. UT News. Some explanations I have read are that we have bread our fruits and veggies to be heartier, larger, more resilient, but not necessarily more nutritious. Others explain that our soil is depleted from inadequate crop rotation. Whatever the cause, it’s lacking in nutrients. Todays carrot is still a better option than todays Dorrito, so don’t go using this paragraph as an excuse to quit your veggies!
Even if we were eating enough, we may not be absorbing enough! Absorption of the nutrients in your food can be affected by many things. Food allergies, inflammation, and medications we take can all affect how well our digestive system takes up nutrients from our food. If you have unhealthy gut flora, which most of us eating the Standard American Diet do, then you probably aren’t getting the most from your food. Alcohol consumption also decreases our absorption as does stress. There are so many factors that go into this.
This fun little chart shows you the percentage of American’s not consuming adequate amounts of the following nutrients. It’s pretty obvious that we aren’t getting the nutrients we need from food or our supplements!
I think it’s pretty obvious that we need to be taking in additional sources of nutrients from supplements. At the end of the day, you want these nutrients to be in abundance. And you want them coming from a whole food source! Deciding which vitamins and supplements to take is just as important as making the decision to take them at all!
How To Pick a Vitamin
I am so picky about vitamins that we had resorted to not taking them for a couple of years! No joke, I threw my vitamins in the garbage until I found the brand I am currently using. And I absolutely love them! Let me explain how I decided which vitamins to take.
Choosing supplements and vitamins that are certified is my number 1 concern. You cannot skip this step! The supplement industry is NOT regulated. Every once in a while you see the FDA step in and ban a substance. But this is after there have been many, many serious injuries or death from a certain ingredient.
The everyday, run of the mill vitamin is not put through any testing. The manufacturer does not have to prove that the pills contain what they claim to. For instance, if the vitamin claims to contain 7500 IU of vitamin A, you have no way of verifying that it actually does.
You also do not know if they have a clean manufacturing process that leaves the vitamins free of harmful additives. In addition to harmful ingredients, many companies have to use harsh preservatives to keep the vitamin shelf stable. Again, this is due to subpar manufacturing.
The only way to know for certain what is in the pill you are taking is if it is certified. NOT certified by some made up label the company uses. And not certified by some company you have never heard of. But by actual, reputable, 3rd party organizations.
The brand I use and promote uses NSF and USP to certify the products. Both of which are reputable companies with zero ties to the manufacturer of the vitamins. I was already familiar with NSF because they certify many of the organic products I use. NSF and USP verify that these products contain the ingredients they are labeled with, in the amounts they claim, and that they are free of synthetics and harmful additives.
Whole food vs synthetic
Many vitamins are made with synthetically manufactured ingredients. Some of these substances can be utilized by your body, some cannot. This is why I much prefer whole food vitamins.
The way that our body utilizes nutrients is a very complicated process. Science has figured out some of these, but not all. In nature, we find vitamins in combination with other nutrients that our body needs to utilize said vitamin. When you synthetically manufacture a vitamin you are missing out on so many other nutrients that would naturally be found with it! Not to mention all of the micronutrients and flavonoids that are also naturally occurring within foods.
Here’s a great example of what an intricate process it is for your body to utilize minerals and vitamins. We have known for years that calcium is best absorbed with the presence of vitamin D. This is why milk has been fortified with vitamin D. What science hadn’t figured out until recently was that you also have to have magnesium in a 1:1 ratio with calcium supplements. If this ratio isn’t correct, the calcium will deposit into your arteries instead of your bones. This, as you can imagine causes atherosclerosis; AKA – badness! There are many other nutrients that assist calcium in being deposited into bone and teeth that I won’t get into right now. But, all of this to say, just for your body to properly utilize one nutrient, it needs a handful of others.
There is also a huge variety of each individual vitamin and mineral. And they are NOT all equals. Let’s again look at Vitamin D. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it creates vitamin D 3. Most cheap supplements, and even several prescriptions, use vitamin D 2. The problem with this is that vitamin D 2 is not as bioavailable. Your body has to work harder to utilize the same dose. Several studies have shown that d3 is a superior form of supplementation. So why in the world would you rather take d2 than d3? If you think Vitamin D is confusing, there are about 9 different forms of magnesium! Yikes.
Can we possibly be expected to know every single variable when vitamin shopping? NO WAY! There is way too much information to factor in. So how in the heck do you choose a vitamin?
You pick a company you trust, that uses whole food supplements, that is certified, and that only uses the highest standards when creating their products. To be honest, this is going to cost you more than buying a multivitamin in the grocery store. There is no quality product that is made “cheap”. You get what you pay for. But I would honestly rather see people not take anything at all, instead of taking terrible quality vitamins that may be harming instead of helping. In fact, until I found my Optimals, that was the decision we had made. To not use anything at all!
The supplements that we use in my house are a brand called Nutrifii. For all of the reasons I just rambled on and on about, these are the ONLY supplements I take. I cannot poke a hole in the quality of these supplements! And every person I have talked to who has tried them has noticed a difference.
They are certified by NSF and USP, they are whole food vitamins, and they are manufactured in a pharmaceutical grade facility (they do not manufacture pharmaceuticals in this facility, but they could). Because of this they do not have to use some of the harsh preservatives others companies do, because they start with such a clean process! If you want to try a quality multivitamin, this is definitely the one I recommend.
If you would like more information about the quality of these supplements check out this quick video. Nutrifii Difference
For the sake of full disclosure, I am an affiliate with the parent company Ariix. I chose to partner with them because of their ridiculously high standards and would NEVER suggest anything to my readers that I do not in fact take myself.
If you would like to check out these vitamins you can head on over to the following site. www.slenderiiz.com/nikki. Click on the Nutrifii tab at the top and check out the Optimals. If you would like to try them, contact me for a great discount on your first order 🙂 My special treat for my awesome readers! Here is the full PDF on this product. Because I want you to do your homework and not just take my word for it 😉 Full PDF Optimals.
If you have any questions about supplementation please post. If I do not know the answer, because I am NOT an expert, I work with several people who are experts, and I’ll be sure to get an answer for you.