What Practitioners Hear About Nutritional Supplements
When it comes to nutritional supplements, shouldn’t I be getting everything I need from my current diet?
Depends on what diet you follow if you follow any at all. See, the standard American diet is high in things that taste good to us. Like sodium, potassium, saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, carbs, and refined grains. Unfortunately, many of the products we consume regularly are low in the vital vitamins and minerals that every human requires.
“If you want to fight disease and achieve maximum life span, you can’t do it with diet alone. You need the extra nutritional boost that only supplements can provide.
In many ways, supplements are to humans what fertilizer is to plants. Give a plant adequate amounts of sunlight and water, and it will survive. Add some nutrient-rich fertilizer (organic, of course), and the plant will thrive.
For us humans, the same principle applies. A healthful, balanced diet supplies the body with sufficient nutrients to carry out routine tasks. Supplements such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, phytochemicals, and more enrich the body’s internal environment to fortify cellular protection, repair, and regeneration and support the Renewal process.”(2,Painter)
Is it Possible to Take too Much of Any One Supplement?
The simple answer is yes. Go ahead and skip to the next paragraph if that is all you needed. In reality, many people are of the belief that more is better. “If I take one of this ibuprofen I feel good, so if I take 2 I should feel great?” Unfortunately, this thought process is self-confirming. But the reality is the damage done to the body becomes greater the more you consume. The same can be said for any supplement that is considered to be a fat-stored supplement. Those are vitamins A,D,E,K. They can build up in fat cells or nerves or other locations of the body and start causing real damage to those locations. So always follow what your practitioner recommends for you. There are other supplements that exist that are not fat stored but can still be toxic to the body given the appropriate amounts. That is the reason the government created something called dietary reference intakes:
- “Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98 percent) healthy individuals in a group.
- Adequate Intake (AI): a value based on observed or experimentally determined approximations of nutrient intake by a group (or groups) of healthy people—used when an RDA cannot be determined.
- Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population. As intake increases above the UL, the risk of adverse effects increases.
- Estimated Average Requirement (EAR): a nutrient intake value that is estimated to meet the requirement of half the healthy individuals in a group.”(1)
Mother Nature and Reality vs Nutritional Supplements
“Of course, supplements, at least as we know them, haven’t been around all that long. How did our ancestors survive without them? To be painfully blunt, they didn’t.
You see, Mother Nature has never cared about optimum health. Nor has she concerned herself with longevity. Her main objective is the survival and propagation of the species. So she programmed us humans to survive on even the crummiest diet, nutrition-wise, into our twenties, when we’re old enough to reproduce. Beyond that, we’re on our own.
This genetic twist is a throwback to primitive times when supermarkets and refrigerators didn’t exist and food was not always plentiful. Those who could stay alive on very slim pickings had a tremendous survival advantage.
Over thousands of years, one generation has passed its “survival genes” on to the next. So thanks to our ancestors, we are equipped to subsist on minuscule amounts of the essential nutrients, just in case a famine comes along. But as I said before, this insurance policy remains effective only into our twenties — just long enough for us to reproduce. It includes no provision for aging.
By the time we reach our twenties, we have established lifelong eating habits. And because our survival genes have protected us from the adverse effects of our dietary transgressions, we have no reason to believe that what we’re eating (or not eating) is doing us any harm. So we continue feeding ourselves nutritionally vacant junk foods, unaware that they’re quietly eroding our health. Often we don’t see the effects for several decades.
The point here is this: Even with a lousy diet, we can remain fairly healthy through our first 30 to 40 years of life. But if we want to achieve optimum health and maximum life span, the nutritional bare bones just won’t cut it. We need to eat nutritious foods, and we need to take supplements.”(2, painter)
The SAD Diet of Most Americans
The SAD diet is an acronym for the standard American diet. This diet relies heavily on ultra-processed food high in added sugar, carbohydrates, saturated fats, and trans fats. With very little addition of fruits and vegetables.
“A 2010 report from the National Cancer Institute on the status of the American diet found that three out of four Americans don’t eat a single piece of fruit in a given day, and nearly nine out of ten don’t reach the minimum recommended daily intake of vegetables. On a weekly basis, 96 percent of Americans don’t reach the minimum for greens or beans (three servings a week for adults), 98 percent don’t reach the minimum for orange vegetables (two servings a week), and 99 percent don’t reach the minimum for whole grains (about three to four ounces a day). “In conclusion,” the researchers wrote, “nearly the entire U.S. population consumes a diet that is not on par with recommendations. These findings add another piece to the rather disturbing picture that is emerging of a nation’s diet in crisis.”
A dietary quality index was developed reflecting the percentage of calories people derive from nutrient-rich, unprocessed plant foods on a scale of 0 to 100. The higher people score, the more body fat they tend to lose over time and the lower their risk appears to be of abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides. Sadly, it appears most Americans hardly make it past a score of ten. The standard American diet reportedly rates 11 out of 100. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates, 32 percent of our calories comes from animal foods, 57 percent from processed plant foods, and only 11 percent from whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. That means on a scale of one to ten, the American diet would rate about a one.”(3)
What is the price of poor nutrition?
Nutritional deficiencies are linked to many symptoms people deal with every day or chalk up to aging. Symptoms like fatigue, weakness, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, depression, poor concentration, memory loss, aches and pains, recurrent infections, allergies, circulatory problems, and just not feeling good. The issue is when you go to your doctor with these symptoms they don’t address them properly. They typically will give you an antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, or some form of pain reliever. But for some reason they chose not to test to see if you are deficient in key nutrients. As your body becomes depleted in these key nutrients it starts to turn off key pathways that are required to maintain the balance of your body. This balance is called homeostasis. Loss of homeostasis is when symptoms begin to manifest. But how is this applied practically? Let’s look at some things that you could be exposed to on a daily basis:
- Alcohol consumption (depletes B vitamins, vitamin C, most minerals, and antioxidants)
- Allergies and infections (deplete vitamins A and C and zinc, among other nutrients) Exposure to air pollutants and other toxins (depletes antioxidants) Smoking (depletes antioxidants)
- Stress (depletes all nutrients, especially B vitamins and vitamin C)
- Atorvastatin– is a member of the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor family of drugs that blocks the body’s production of cholesterol. Atorvastatin is used to lower high cholesterol.(Depletes CoQ10)
- Lisinopril is an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, a family of drugs used to treat high blood pressure and some types of heart failure. Lisinopril is also used in some cases to improve survival after a heart attack. (Depletes Zinc)
- Metformin is a drug used to lower blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes. (Depletes B12, Folic Acid)
- Albuterol is a short-acting, beta-adrenergic bronchodilator drug used for relief and prevention of bronchospasm. It is also used to prevent exercise-induced bronchospasm. While albuterol is available in tablet form, it is most commonly used by oral inhalation into the lungs. (Depletes Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphate, Potassium)
- Omeprazole is a member of the proton pump inhibitor family of drugs, which blocks production of stomach acid. Omeprazole is used to treat diseases in which stomach acid causes damage, including gastric and duodenal ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease, erosive esophagitis, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.( Depletes Calcium, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12)
These are a few of the most common medications and what they deplete. If you wish to know what your current medications are depleting and interacting with I recommend asking your practitioner to access their database as most of the free databases available to the public are incomplete.
Diet won’t cut it.
After reading this article I hope you understand why any single diet cannot possibly give you all the nutrients your body needs to run efficiently and optimally. So the next question is how do you know what you need? Well, I would start with tracking your daily dietary intake and a genetic test to see what your body processes. Some people process fats better and some carbs better. Some people have poor absorption of omega 3s and some are efficient at it. From this point we would make diet modifications and introduce supplements to compensate for what you are not getting. I would follow all this up with a vitamin and mineral blood test to see what you are clinically deficient in as a 3-month follow-up to the genetic and diet modification that would occur. Here at Align The Spine Chiropractic, we will be offering these services by August 2021. We will also have customized nutrition plans for patients depending on their comorbidities.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Institute of Medicine (US) Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: A Risk Assessment Model for Establishing Upper Intake Levels for Nutrients. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1998. What are Dietary Reference Intakes? Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45182/
Painter, Frank M. Why Supplements Are Necessary, chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Why_Supplements_Are_Necessary.shtml.
“Emerson Ecologics™ | The Largest Supplement Dispensary for Practitioners.” EmersonEcologic, www.emersonecologics.com/education/clinical-resources/drug-depletions-interactions.