People walk into my practice all the time with grocery bags full of dietary supplements. As I discuss the rest of their lifestyle with them, I begin to realize they are living on fast food burgers, pizza, and soda pop.
One thing many people don’t understand is dietary supplements are just that, a supplement to the diet.
If you are not following a generally healthy diet and lifestyle, you can take all of the supplements in the world and gain no benefit from them. The only thing you’re really doing is depleting the dollar bills from your bank account.
Supplements are intended to fill in the gaps of the diet, as a generally healthy diet still leaves an additional need for certain nutrients. One thing I counsel my patients on consistently is the fact that diet, lifestyle, and exercise is the foundation of everything related to their health. If they are not willing to put in considerable amount of time to get this part of their life in order, I clearly state they should lower their expectations for the support any dietary supplement will provide.
Once your diet and lifestyle is in order, there are a few supplements that can likely provide positive benefits for most everyone.
Multivitamin mineral: This is a great option to fill in the gaps for someone who eats fairly well but understands that it is very difficult to get every last nutrient in the quantities necessary for a normal diet.
Fish oil: Fish oil is a great supplement to your diet as most people don’t eat enough cold water fish to get sufficient amounts of EPA and DHA in their daily diet. Additionally, concerns about pollutants may arise when consuming large amounts of fish. Acquiring fish oil supplements from a high quality vendor will alleviate those concerns.
Probiotic: Many of us are not eating fermented foods consistently throughout our days. A high quality probiotic can do a lot to maintain the overall health of one’s microbiome. With the minimal effort of taking a daily probiotic, one can realize the powerful benefits of a healthy, well-functioning digestive system.
Magnesium: This mineral is necessary in many chemical reactions throughout the body. It is also a mineral which many don’t receive enough of in their diet. This can help support anything from healthy muscle contraction to the support of many biochemical pathways throughout the brain.
Vitamin D: The sunshine vitamin is important for a variety of processes throughout the body. UV rays allow humans to synthesize their own vitamin D supply. If you live in a northern climate especially, this vitamin becomes even more important because during certain times of the year, the Earth’s angle to the sun prevents UV rays from coming through the ozone layer.
In conclusion, if you are looking at supplements as a get out of jail free card, you may be disappointed. Conversely, when you are eating well and using a few select supplements, it is absolutely amazing how efficiently your body can work. The key is that you have a solid dietary foundation and follow a healthy lifestyle first.
About the Author:
Dr. Chris Oswald is a certified nutrition specialist, chiropractor, and co-founder of Hudson Headache, an integrative physical medicine practice in Wisconsin focusing on whole-person approaches to head and neck pain. He earned a doctor of chiropractic degree from Northwestern Health Sciences University following his undergraduate degree in sport science. He has keen interest in the combination of functional medicine and functional movement assessments. His strategies have resulted in highly successful clinical outcomes for patients suffering from chronic pain and fatigue, severe digestive dysfunction, and those who are healthy looking to optimize performance.