This is a question which has been long-debated and which I’ve gone back and forth over a few times over the years. After my last post, I figured I’d better talk about my position on it. But before we answer the question, there’s a few things we need to consider.
What’s a supplement?
We use the word “supplement” to cover a range of dietary items, including pills, powders, capsules, soft gels, and lastly “superfoods.” The “superfoods” we might consider to be supplements may include, among many others, things such as wheatgrass, bee pollen and chia seeds.
What’s IN your supplement?
When we think of what “is” a supplement, the latter group of “superfoods” are a form of supplement that I believe in very strongly. That’s because they are natural, whole foods, often organic / local / sustainably-produced, and they are full to the brim of amazing nutrients that we can’t get the same quality of quantity of from the regular foods we eat daily.
So what about the first set of supplements we talked about, the pills and powders and capsules and soft gels? Well, these are the items that you need to be careful about. Read labels, research the company and brand name, and pay careful attention to the ingredient list. My favourite calcium supplement has sadly been discontinued, but I liked it because it was a powder and the only things in it were calcium and magnesium. Nowadays, any calcium supplements I find are in liquid or pill form and include other unneccesary ingredients.
Powdered supplements are difficult to come by, so my preference is capsules of supplements. You can empty the capsules into a smoothie, for example, and that way you just get the powder rather than whatever the capsule itself is made of (although even in this case, I still like to go for vegetarian capsules with ingredients in the capsule part that I recognize).
How much of the supplement should I take?
Have you ever noticed that supplements show that if you take two capsules daily, you’ll have 300% of x vitamin? I don’t like that. Toxicity levels of nutrients can be just as dangerous as not having enough. While you’re reading the label on the bottle carefully, take note of the serving size. Often their “serving size” is anywhere from two to four tablets. To stay on the safe side, I prefer having half of their amount, and also having supplements only three to five times a week rather than a full seven days a week. This is a really good way to ensure that you’re getting nutrients you need without overdoing it. After all, you’re likely getting a whole lot of nutrients from the food you’re eating, too!
So, should I take supplements?
“Superfood” supplements? Yes! Supplements that come in a bottle? Sometimes, but be careful which ones you take. Taking no bottled supplements is much better than choosing the wrong one.
It depends a lot on the person as to the type of bottled supplement that might be right for you, but I think that a lot of people can benefit from taking fish oil and a probiotic. Just be sure to read the label, and when in doubt, do your research and / or ask a professional!
Do you take supplements? What are your favourite “superfoods”? How often do you take supplements, and what do you look for when you’re choosing between them? Share in the comments section below!