Vitamins and herbal supplements are everywhere nowadays, and it can be very overwhelming to figure out what you need to take when, and why. Add to that the recent study which I referenced in a previous blog article about over the counter supplements not being what they seem, and beyond being overwhelming, it can be downright frightening to purchase something over the counter.
As a Licensed Acupuncturist with a Master’s Degree in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Chinese nutrition and Western nutrition were central to my studies and I feel strongly that vitamins and herbal supplements should be part of everyone’s lifestyle, but getting the right supplements from the right manufacturer in the right dosage is key to optimizing your nutrition and ensuring excellent health.
Food - Not What It Used To Be
The food we eat today isn’t the same as the food our parents ate, let alone our grandparents. Grains have been crossbred and modified to the point that the gluten content has more than tripled in some cases shedding some (possible) light on the noticeable increase in gluten intolerance and celiac disease we’ve seen in the past 5-10 years.
Growing methods, fertilizer choice and GMO status affect nutrients in our foods as well, and the vitamin and mineral content of our produce has greatly declined over the past 50 years. Did you know that some commercially grown oranges contain NO Vitamin C at all when tested? Tomatoes can vary in iron content from 1,938 parts per million to 1 part per million. A huge discrepancy.
If you’re eating 100% organic 100% of the time and consuming no refined sugars, grains, hydrogenated fats, alcohol or drugs (including pharmaceuticals), managing stress (depletes nutrition) as a priority and getting regular exercise (optimizes bodily function) 3-5 times a week, you are probably living well enough and eating nutritiously dense enough that vitamins and supplements aren’t going to be a big factor in your health and aging over time. If you’re not, however, vitamins and supplements can be key to helping you feel better, stay healthier, boost your immune system, and temper the natural affects of aging.
The Benefits of Herbal Supplements
High quality supplements are your insurance policy against the sad state of food in our world today. We can’t always eat perfectly, and even if we do we can’t guarantee that what should be in our food, is in our food. Add to that the mounting research that a low calorie diet is a factor in maintaining healthy weight, a healthy heart, and longevity, and it becomes that much more important to ensure that you are getting the best nutrients in an efficient and trusted delivery system.
Western and herbal supplements ARE that delivery system and a little bit can go a long way. Key, however, is making sure that you are getting them from a trusted source. If you read the New York Times article linked in my previous blog article, you’ll see that only 2 of the bottles they picked up over the counter and tested had exactly what the label said they had - the rest of the 44 bottles included some substitution or dilution, and some included none of the substance they were selling at all!
This is appalling, and an important cautionary tale. It is also something natural medicine providers like myself learned about in school - that there is a stark difference in quality between over the counter supplements and the more expensive lines sold by providers only such as Biotics, Integrative Therapeutics, Seroyal and Standard Process. These more expensive lines have been thoroughly vetted and tested and are assured to contain exactly the nutrients the bottle claims.
If you want to get the herbal supplements you are paying for, buy them from a trusted provider.
Vitamins, Supplements and Herbal Medicine at Home - A Little Can Go A Long Way
I recommend all of my patients take a basic regime of the following to make up for the lacking quality of our food supply and to combat modern day stress, fatigue and aging:
I also have a shorter list of the top 3 herbs and supplements everyone should take for basic health if you want a bare bones recommendation, but the list above is my preferred basic recommendation for optimal health.
If you want to know what is right for you personally, I highly recommend coming in for an appointment to assess your body’s physical and energetic needs. This way I can make an individualized recommendation and help you find the quality supplements that will reliably deliver what is promised! Don’t be fooled by the “talker” displays at the grocery or drug store - get your supplements from a trusted professional and be assured of what you are paying for.
Until next time,
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.