Why this naturopath doesn’t take supplements
By definition a supplement is “something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole”. This could be in the form of vitamins, minerals, oils, herbs, protein powders, energy drinks, superfoods (is one food type really more super than another?) etc.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2011-12, 29% of Australians reported taking at least one dietary supplement a day. Females were more likely than males to have had a dietary supplement (33% and 24% respectively), with the highest proportion of consumers in the older age groups.
So the straight forward answer to why I don’t take supplements is because I enjoy great health and I don’t feel the need to add, make up, strengthen or ‘supplement’ myself with anything. During times of stress, or when I know I’ll need extra energy, I fortify my diet with extra nutrient dense whole foods (for example, homemade liver pate), meditate or rest and support myself with herbal teas and tonics. I eat a good variety of organic wholefoods, and I eat seasonally, so I believe I have all the nutrients I need to function happily every day.
Here’s what I’ve been eating a regular day:
- Breakfast broth with lots of fresh cut herbs, greens or organic seaweed and poached eggs in broth, lemon juice, zest and/or ginger root.
- Lunch and dinner: Salad with grass fed or pastured protein or sustainable fish with extra healing foods if needed, for example, fermented cultured foods such as fermented vegetables, yoghurt, broth, home made liver pate, olive oil and lots of fresh and organic dried herbs and spices.
- Two pieces of fruit somewhere in day.
The most common reasons my patients self prescribe supplements
It’s mainly around low energy and to reduce pain and inflammation, though some clients take a supplement because they have been sold on the premise that they will fix their ailment – a cure-all. Some will take them because it provides an insurance or safety net when they are not taking care of themselves. And some are sold on the premise that our soil is depleted of nutrients and we need to extra nutrition.
As a Naturopathic practitioner, we may need to supplement our patients especially if they present with severe nutritional deficiencies or inflammation but we do this while addressing the underlying causes and contributing factors of ill health. If we focus on the cause of why they feel they way they do, we’ll hopefully be able to correct the issue without ongoing use of supplement.
Increased requirements for supplements
- Pre and post surgery
- Specific times in life – infants, babies and toddlers are supplemented if mums are not breast feeding and during puberty, menopause and old age
- Preconceptionally, during pregnancy and breast feeding
- Being on the pill or other medications
- Infections and other chronic illness
- A compromised digestive system interfering with digestion, absorption, synthesis of nutrients
- A genetic predisposition which doesn’t allow for the retention, absorption or processing of nutrients from our diets. These conditions include Pyrroluria and MTHFr.
Not all supplements are the same
Consider the source and processing of supplements like we consider the source and processing of food. Some may be made from synthetic ingredients such as petroleum coal tar for Vitamins B or refined natural ingredients for Vitamin C. They may contain many artificial binders and additives. Some are sold as singles or in complexes combined with herbs and other food ingredients. Remember this, the whole (the natural whole food) is greater than the sum of its parts. That means that it’s better to eat an orange than it is to take a vitamin C supplement.
Taking supplements yet still find yourself nutritionally deficient?
The following may need to be considered with your health care professional:
Are you eating enough?
Are you eating the right foods but still find yourself deficient?
Are you eating poorly prepared or highly processed foods?
Could there be something binding to your nutrients, effecting absorption?
Do you have dysbiosis or poor gut flora health?
Are you chewing and digesting food well?
Are you exposed to heavy metals or other toxins which compete with or displace important minerals?
Are your genes affecting the way your body processes nutrients?
My supplement tips
Always consult a qualified health professional first to avoid any drug-supplement interactions and to prescribe the right supplement or healthcare protocol for you.
Avoid supplements with sweeteners, colours, artificial flavours preservatives, or fillers.
Choose those derived from organic or whole natural ingredients.
Address the underlying cause and factors of why you feel the way you feel.
I generally prefer my clients get their nutrition from organic whole foods, chew well and take care of their digestive system to ensure optimal health.
Liked this? Read these!
Got something to say? Get it off your chest here
The Juice Daily is a Fairfax Media owned website