All About Supplements
Noha is a certified Health Coach by Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and a passionate mother of two. Through her blog, she hopes to empower families and parents to lead a healthy, happy and well balanced life inside out. Check out her Facebook page.
All About Supplements
Supplements.. To give or NOT To give ?
Many parents complain about their kids not eating enough of a balanced diet. Most of them start thinking about supplements to ensure healthy growth for their children and wonder which brand or kind is the best to give! This is actually a very hot topic in a world where we are always busy and in a hurry, where we don’t eat enough fresh, whole and unprocessed food!
So let’s dig into this matter in depth.
What are supplements?
Supplement as defined in Longman dictionary is: an additional amount that makes something complete.
Therefore “supplement” is something extra to be “added” and cannot be used as a “substitute” or “replacement” to what our bodies need, it only supplements it (if or when needed!)
What sort of food do our bodies need?
Our bodies need two elements: Macronutrients and Micronutrients.
Macronutrients: are what we know as Carbohydrates (included in most kinds of food especially fruit and vegetables), protein and healthy fat.
Micronutrients: are vitamins and minerals which are abundantly available in all sorts of fruit and veggies!
We get both Macro and Micronutrients from: Unprocessed, whole food!
If you are on a balanced diet where you get a variety of fruit, veggies, lean protein, healthy fat, and whole unprocessed food, rest assured that you are getting what your body needs!
It might sound complicated but actually a nice bowl of salad has all these elements.
For example: Add to your salad:
- Different variety of colous of veggies : (whole carbohydrates and micronutrients: tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, carrots, greens: dark lettuce/baby spinach/parsley/dill/rucola).
- You can also add a type of fruit (such as apple/pineapple/physalis (7arankash)/mangoes or raisins).
- Healthy fat: flaxseed oil or olive oil.
- Healthy protein: chickpeas/nuts/goat or cottage cheese/corn/beans.
- You can also add tuna or salmon (smoked or roasted) and make tuna or salmon salad to ensure that you got your need of omega 3!
When do I need to use supplements?
This is a decision that you shouldn’t really take on your own! Supplements are to be prescribed by a doctor to a patient after having a blood analysis. The results must indicate that his/her body lacks a specific nutrient that he/she is not able to eat naturally for a specific reason (like living in a country where you can’t really consume fish for example!) The kind of supplement and the dosage are decided based upon the numbers stated in the result of the analysis.
When do doctors usually prescribe supplements?
1) During pregnancy (especially folic acid, calcium and iron)
2) Due to specific illnesses (When the body is unable to digest specific nutrients from food)
3) Due to food allergy (specific food cannot be consumed by the patient)
4) Older people (above 50+)
5) With patients who have limited diet! This could be for:
1) Geographical reasons (not enough variety of fruit and veggies, not enough sun exposure (which causes vitamin D deficiency), no sea or river for fish to grow,..etc
2) Busy people who don’t give enough time to consume a variety of whole, unprocessed food
3) Lack in the variety of nourishing food in the country.
What are the kinds of supplements available in the market?
There is a big variety of supplements in the market now such as:
- Amino acids
- Essential fatty acids
Why whole, unprocessed food is a safer and better option?
- Whole food contains greater variety of nutritional value: micro and macro nutrients together.
- It also includes essential fiber by nature.
- It contains natural protective substances such as antioxidants and phytonutrients.
- It is all from a natural source, unlike synthetic vitamins.
- It has no additives or preservatives unlike vitamins.
Why not rush into consuming supplements ?
- Consumption of supplements has to be monitored regularly because over consumption can be very dangerous and can cause severe illnesses as a long term consequence (especially to the liver)
- Supplements are either extracted from synthetic sources or natural sources (these are usually far more expensive than the synthetic ones and even if it stated it’s from a natural source: it could be just a percentage as little as 10% only!) The majority of commercial supplements are extracted from synthetic sources in laboratories, the majority of which our bodies can’t really absorb so they just pass through the urine!
- Some natural supplements are not completely absorbed by the body if not accompanied by other factors! For example, iron needs to be accompanied by vitamin C to be fully absorbed by the body! (which is the natural case in tomatoes that has both elements in it!)
- If you are on other medications, inform your doctor. Some supplements have serious counter interactions with other medications so you have to be very careful! For ex: vitamin K when consumed with blood thinners medication and calcium with heart medications!
How to choose a good supplement?
If you and your doctor think supplement is your only option, then try to choose a kind that states that it is from a good natural source.
To wrap it up, if you lack a specific nutrient (according to your blood test results) try to add it naturally to your food and make supplements your last choice!