If food is your primary medicine, what place do supplements play?
As I have thought about food and nutrition over the past 5 decades, I have always used supplements. I don’t think a multi-vitamin is needed. It avoids the issue of learning what supplements your body does need to function.
Vitiman C. I used to take vitamin C, an inexpensive supplement with rose hips, but when I developed a taste for 1/2 a key lime squeezed into a 16 ounce glass of filtered tap water (25mg vit c), I realized it was far better than a vit c pill. Four of these glasses is about all I drink all day long, except for ½ cup of weak French roast in the AM. That just happens to be the average amount of water a body needs a day, so I know I am hydrated when I drink the water. I have not spent a penny on Vitamin C supplements for about 25 years. I also seem to have a high resistance to colds and sore throats. Since I doubt any member of TMC would agree my good immune system is due to CS, the vitamin C from those limes, which is from a food source after all, must be as good as any reason. Also, a fresh source needs a fraction of the milligrams you pay for in a supplement.
Fish/krill oil. Everyone in our family takes fish oil, or krill oil because we live in the desert and a steady supply of fish, except sardines and tuna and anchovies is not readily or inexpensively available. When I run out of fish oil, I do start getting more forgetful of words in conversations. When I take it, my perception of myself is that it is great for short term memory. The omega 3 from fish oil seems so important for every human being, that sometimes I think we must have evolved eating a lot of fish. I think it does more than short term memory for me, but that is the most obvious benefit. I would encourage people to study up on fish oils if they don’t have enough natural food resources.
Vitamin A or beta-carotene. If you eat enough veggies every day, you might not need any supplements. Veggies have Vitamin A precursors and vitamin K.
Minerals. Magnesium. Enough veggies and you will not need magnesium either, but if you don’t eat your veggies, a lack of magnesium does harm to your body, actual harm. Epsom salts baths are good for a bit of magnesium absorbed right through the skin to relieve sore muscles. Most of the cells of your body need magnesium, but magnesium can’t be measured in the blood like vitamin D, so it is good to have knowledge of why you need to get enough magnesium and be sure you do.
Magnesium is laxative. A cheap magnesium supplement from a drug store also makes a good laxative, when you take more than your body actually needs. That’s how to tell when you are taking enough. I like to have Epsom salts, and magnesium carbonate in the medicine chest. I am going to try magnesium threonate soon. It is a new form that is easily available for cells to absorb. It is supposed to help the brain directly. We shall see.
Calcium. Don’t worry about calcium. Honest. It is almost impossible to eat less calcium that you need, and too much will harm your cal/mag balance. Dairy products will give you so much more calcium than you need. Yogurt. Cottage cheese. Cheese. Not to mention that veggies alone have all the calcium you need – if you eat them.
Anti-oxidants? Guess what, fruits and veggies are loaded with them. Those are some of the most expensive supplements, too, so buy veggies instead. Wine has some anti-oxidants, though I personally only drink wine once or twice a year –if it is very good wine.
There are more supplements that can help with chronic conditions, though medicine is proving that most chronic conditions are the result of not eating right. And what don’t these people eat enough of? How wrong could you be if you said, “VEGGIES!”
So for me and my household, we supplement to get Omegas not easily available from other than oily fish. I keep magnesium sulphate by the bathtub, magnesium carbonate in the medicine box along with Milk of Magnesia, as it is a laxative than works. No matter how often you take it, it only benefits your body to get extra magnesium from any source as well as veggies.
Get Vitamin D in brief un-sunscreen slathered doses. The things that Vitamin D and K do together are very important for the body and a very good idea to know something about. If you don’t get any sun on your skin sans sunscreen, you may not be optimal for vitamin d, which can be taken in a supplement. Your primary care physician can have a lab done for vit d to check your level.
I like to get some early AM sun without sunscreen. I drink my coffee in the eastern sunlight in the AM.
I mention the above vitamins, minerals, and fish oils because they are of almost universal benefit and virtually harmless. There are many more supplements that should only be taken by people with particular, less universal needs, only after proper determination.
When I had kids and did not have health insurance, I learned a bit about herbs ie raspberry leaf tea for menstrual cramps. The tea tastes fine, although you can get the herb in tinctures to make the tea too.
Herbs are something I would recommend you explore for yourself. Almost everyone knows about golden seal and Echinacea. They don’t have much of a scientific basis, yet, they have a long, long tradition. In any case, but the tincture of Echinacea is great for bites and owies. If I had one tincture, it would be echinacea.