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Are Supplements Even Necessary? A Comprehensive Look

supplements

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These days, health and wellness influencers, podcasters, and personalities bombard us with reasons why we need the latest and greatest supplements. We are targeted with ads across platforms, offering everything under the kitchen sink. But is supplementation even necessary, and if so, how do we know which companies to trust?

If you are anything like me when I first started my health journey, you have a cabinet full of supplements and think the next one will be the missing piece to your puzzle. This can get expensive and exhausting. So let’s dive into the necessity of supplements, the importance of quality, and how to make informed choices.

The Historical Perspective: Did Our Ancestors Take Supplements?

The obvious answer is no. Our ancestors didn’t take supplements because they got everything they needed from their diet. They consumed nutrient-dense, whole foods grown in rich, untainted soil. They ate seasonally and locally, which ensured their food was fresh and nutrient-packed. In contrast, modern agricultural practices have depleted our soil, leading to produce that is significantly lower in essential nutrients.

Our ancestors lived in a time when the soil was rich in minerals, and the air and water were free from pollutants. They didn’t have to deal with the same stresses of modern life, which can deplete our bodies of essential nutrients. Today, the food we eat is often stripped of its nutritional value due to over-farming, the use of chemical fertilizers, and long transportation times.

A study published in HortScience highlights the decline in the nutrient composition of fruits and vegetables over the past 50 years. This decline is attributed to agricultural practices that prioritize yield over nutrient density. For example, broccoli today contains about half the calcium it did in 1950. This trend is seen across many types of produce, suggesting that even with a balanced diet, we might not be getting the same level of nutrients as our ancestors did.

The Nutrient Deficit: Why Can’t We Rely Solely on Diet?

With depleted soil, even whole, organic foods might not meet our nutritional needs. Studies have shown that the nutrient content in fruits and vegetables has declined over the past decades due to soil degradation and modern farming techniques. This means we might be at a deficit straight from the gate, making supplementation a reasonable consideration.

Additionally, the convenience of processed foods has led many to stray from whole foods, further exacerbating nutrient deficiencies. Processed foods are not only loaded with disease-ridden chemicals, but low in essential nutrients, contributing to the rise in chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions.

Even the way we cook and store food can affect its nutrient content. For instance, boiling vegetables can cause water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and B vitamins to leach into the water, which is often discarded. Storing food for extended periods can also lead to nutrient loss. Therefore, while a whole-food diet is ideal, it might not be enough in our modern context.

The Importance of Quality: Not All Supplements Are Created Equal

Quality is paramount when it comes to supplements. The supplement industry is rife with products that contain fillers, additives, and contaminants. Here’s how to ensure you are getting high-quality supplements:

  1. Research the Company: Thoroughly vet and research the companies you buy from. For example, Purium has its own regenerative organic farms, where they grow their crops without pesticides, herbicides, or any other harmful substances. They ensure no fillers are in their products, providing a clean, potent supplement. These are the types of companies I like to work with and buy from.
  2. Check for Third-Party Testing: Third-party testing can verify the purity and potency of supplements. Look for supplements that are tested by independent labs. This ensures that the product contains what it claims and is free from harmful contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides, and microbes.
  3. Read Ingredient Labels: Avoid supplements with unnecessary additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. Opt for those with clean, transparent labels. Many mass-produced supplements contain binders, fillers, and artificial colors that can cause adverse reactions and reduce the effectiveness of the active ingredients.
 

For instance, I would never waste my money on a generic multivitamin from the store, which often contains low-quality, synthetic ingredients and unnecessary additives. Instead, I opt for products from companies that prioritize quality and transparency. Brands that use whole-food sources for their supplements are generally more reliable, as they retain the natural co-factors and phytonutrients that enhance nutrient absorption and utilization.

My Approach to Supplements: Keep It Simple and Effective

My current stance is that supplements can be helpful, but I try to keep them to a bare minimum. Here’s what my regimen looks like:

  • Purium Pineal Clear: I also incorporate Purium Pineal Clear into my routine to support my brain health. This supplement aims to enhance melatonin production, support healthy sleep patterns, and foster deeper connections through improved brain function. Pineal Clear includes a synergistic blend of organic ingredients such as Haritaki Fruit Extract, Irish Sea Moss Extract, Chaga Mycelium Extract, Turmeric Root Extract, and Shilajit Extract, all of which contribute to cognitive health and overall wellness. (Use code “kyletothemoon64” to save on Pineal Clear)

  • Shilajit: I take shilajit from Lajit Gold to get fulvic acid and trace minerals, which are important for overall health. Shilajit is a natural substance found in the Himalayas, known for its rejuvenating properties. It contains over 84 minerals in their ionic form, which can enhance nutrient absorption and support various bodily functions. (Use code “kyletothemoon” to save 13% on shilajit)
  • Collagen: I take collagen to support joint health, skin elasticity, and overall connective tissue integrity. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and supplementing with it can help improve skin hydration, reduce joint pain, and support gut health. As we age, collagen production naturally decreases, so supplementing can help maintain these essential functions. (Use code “kyletothemoon” to save $10 on Jigsaw Health’s Collagen)
  • Creatine: I include creatine in my routine for its benefits in muscle energy production as well as cognitive enhancement. Creatine is well-known for its ability to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and aid muscle recovery during and after exercise. It works by helping to produce ATP, the primary energy currency in cells, making it a staple for anyone looking to improve physical performance. 
  • Essential Amino Acids (EAAs): EAAs are crucial for muscle protein synthesis and overall bodily functions. Since our bodies cannot produce these amino acids, we must obtain them from our diet or supplements. Supplementing with EAAs helps to ensure that my body has the necessary building blocks to repair and grow muscle tissue, especially after intense workouts. (Use code “kyletothemoon64” to save on essential amino acids)

While I like to keep it simple, I will sometimes mix in other supplements when I need them. An instance of this would be Purium’s Biome Medic, which is the only supplement ever proven to remove the toxic Glyphosate from our gut. Glyphosate is a widely used herbicide that has been linked to various health issues, including gut dysbiosis and inflammation. Biome Medic contains prebiotics and probiotics that help to restore gut health by removing Glyphosate and supporting a healthy microbiome.

I choose to mix Biome Medic into my routine throughout the year, especially after periods of dietary indulgence or increased exposure to environmental toxins. Keeping my gut health in check is crucial for overall wellness, as a healthy gut is foundational to good digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function.

Personalized Supplementation: Tailoring to Individual Needs

For those with specific health struggles, getting bloodwork done quarterly can help identify deficiencies and tailor supplementation accordingly. Personalized supplementation can address unique needs that a general multivitamin cannot. For instance, if bloodwork shows low iron levels, a targeted supplement can help correct this deficiency more effectively than a broad-spectrum multivitamin.

Nutritional needs can vary widely based on factors such as age, gender, lifestyle, and health status. For example, athletes might require higher levels of certain nutrients to support their training and recovery, while older adults might need more calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone health. By working with a trusted health coach and using diagnostic tests, individuals can develop a supplementation plan that meets their specific needs. 

Trustworthy Brands and Products

Based on my research and personal experience, here are a few brands and products I trust:

  • Jigsaw Health: Known for their high-quality magnesium supplements and the Adrenal Cocktail. Jigsaw Health’s products are designed to be gentle on the stomach and provide sustained-release formulations, ensuring steady nutrient delivery throughout the day.
  • Purium: Offers clean, nutrient-dense products like the PowerShake, Biome Medic, and other organic supplements. Purium uses a unique drying process that preserves the nutritional integrity of their ingredients, providing a potent source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
  • Lajit Gold: Provides premium shilajit, known for its high content of fulvic acid and trace minerals. Lajit Gold ensures their shilajit is sourced from the purest environments and undergoes rigorous testing for quality and safety. This supplement supports energy levels, nutrient absorption, and overall health.

These companies prioritize quality and transparency, ensuring their products are free from harmful additives and contaminants.

The Role of Supplements in Modern Life

In our fast-paced, modern world, it can be challenging to maintain a perfect diet. Busy schedules, stress, and environmental toxins can all contribute to nutrient depletion. Supplements can provide a convenient way to fill nutritional gaps and support overall health.

However, it’s important to approach supplementation with a balanced mindset. Supplements should not replace whole foods but rather complement a healthy diet. Whole foods provide a complex matrix of nutrients that work synergistically to support health. For example, an orange provides not only vitamin C but also fiber, flavonoids, and other bioactive compounds that enhance its benefits.

Additionally, supplements can be particularly beneficial during certain life stages or conditions. Pregnant women, for example, may need extra folic acid and iron to support fetal development. Individuals recovering from illness or surgery might benefit from specific nutrients to aid healing and recovery.

Foundation of Health: Lifestyle Choices Matter

While supplements can provide valuable support, they are not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. No amount of supplements, prescription medication, or quick fixes can make up for a poor diet, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, and other poor lifestyle habits. True wellness comes from a holistic approach that prioritizes:

  • Nutritious Diet: Focus on consuming a balanced diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains. These provide the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs to function optimally.

  • Quality Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Sleep is crucial for physical and mental recovery, immune function, and overall well-being. Establish a regular sleep routine and create a restful environment to improve your sleep quality.

  • Regular Exercise: Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Whether it’s strength training, cardio, yoga, or simply walking, exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, improves cardiovascular health, boosts mood, and enhances overall fitness.

  • Stress Management: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or spending time in nature. Chronic stress can negatively impact your health, so finding ways to manage it is essential.

  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Proper hydration supports digestion, circulation, and temperature regulation, and it helps maintain energy levels.

  • Healthy Relationships: Cultivate supportive and positive relationships. Social connections are vital for emotional health and can provide a sense of belonging and purpose.

Remember, supplements can help fill in nutritional gaps and support specific health needs, but they should complement—not replace—these foundational aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Prioritize these habits to create a solid base for your overall wellness.

The Risks of Over-Supplementation

While supplements can offer benefits, over-supplementation can pose risks. Taking high doses of certain nutrients can lead to toxicity and adverse effects, especially when not buying from quality brands. For example, excessive vitamin A intake can cause liver damage, while too much calcium can lead to kidney stones and impaired absorption of other minerals.

It’s crucial to follow recommended dosages and consult with a health coach before starting any new supplement regimen. Blood tests and professional guidance can help determine the appropriate dosage and prevent potential interactions with medications or other supplements.

Conclusion: Are Supplements Necessary?

So, are supplements necessary? It depends on individual needs, lifestyle, and dietary habits. For most people, focusing on a nutrient-dense diet rich in animal fats and proteins can provide the majority of essential nutrients needed for good health. However, due to modern agricultural practices and lifestyle factors, supplements can fill in the gaps and support overall health when chosen wisely.

For those looking to optimize their health, starting with a few high-quality supplements, as part of a well-rounded diet, can be beneficial. Remember to:

  • Focus on Quality: Choose supplements from reputable companies with transparent practices.
  • Tailor to Your Needs: Use bloodwork and professional guidance to identify specific deficiencies.
  • Keep It Simple: Avoid overloading on supplements; stick to what you need and monitor your body’s response.
 

In the end, the goal is to achieve balance and support your body in the best way possible, whether through diet, supplements, or a combination of both. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure it aligns with your individual health needs and goals.

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