Of late, I have been an advocate of supplementation. I still am for people who refuse to eat a nutrient-dense diet. But what about people who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and/or organ meat, and maybe raw or vat-pasteurized dairy products? Must they supplement, as well?
This is one of the most highly debated questions in the nutritional world. Some say no. Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods every day, and you’ll get everything you need. Others say – just as vehemently and with just as much research to back up their stance – that everybody needs to take dietary supplements because they can’t get it in their food.
When supplementation is necessary
Remember, I’m talking about healthy eaters here, not SAD eaters. People who eat a nutrient-dense diet may need to supplement under certain conditions.
- They’ve gone through an illness (and therefore need temporary supplementation).
- They purposely eliminate a food group (such as dairy or meat) from their diet, or don’t eat much of it.
- They’ve done a certain task which has depleted them of a certain nutrient (such as excessive time in front of a computer screen and thus incurring a beta carotene or vitamin C deficiency). In such a case, supplementation would be temporary.
- They don’t want to pay for, or cannot grow, a particular food that would enable them to get sufficient amounts of the nutrient in question.
- For whatever reason, their body has trouble absorbing nutrients which requires them to intake several times more of them than they would need to otherwise.
Because I feel better when I don’t consume dairy, I usually don’t. And while I eat more greens than is recommended, I don’t get enough calcium from them. So I recently began taking a calcium supplement after reading that chronic anger (which I’ve been dealing with) can be a sign of acidosis (which I was diagnosed with a few years ago) which usually indicates a calcium deficiency.
I’ve been taking a magnesium supplement for probably seven years to eliminate restless legs. It has also relieved P.M.S. symptoms.
I take vitamin C mostly for my eye health.
I take iron because I don’t want to eat meat all day long.
I’ve been taking Thyrocsin, a thyroid support supplement because at one point my T3 count was in the red (and the T4 in the yellow).
I take a digestive enzyme because I began to feel nauseated after eating several years ago, and it only got worse.
On top of all that, we recently began taking cod liver oil capsules because we were deficient in DHA.
Understand, I have been taking these because I muscle-tested that I need them, not “just in case” or I thought certain symptoms merited their use.
When the cod liver oil capsules joined all my other ones, I thought, “What, am I crazy? Can’t I possibly get some of these nutrients in a more natural way?” (And yes, I have been trying to get at least part of what I need in food, such as magnesium from sesame and pumpkin seeds, and calcium from sesame seeds.)
How I reduced my supplement use by half
My first bright idea was to start eating salmon three times a week. That should earn me an automatic Ph.D. from Harvard, don’t you think?
It’s not that I hadn’t thought of it before. It’s that taking the capsules is much cheaper than eating the fish. But seeds and nuts only take a person so far. I was ready to put fish back into my diet.
The tricky ones were magnesium, calcium and vitamin C (I need a lot of the last, and it’s really expensive to get enough from food). Several years ago I read about how high in nutrition stinging nettle tea is. Well, we have a lot of different weeds on our property, but stinging nettle is not one.
Then one day, I was walking through my garden and marveling at how my blackberry and raspberry canes have proliferated over the past year. And I remembered having heard about raspberry leaf tea.
I also remember having heard that the nutrients that are present in one part of the plant are generally present in the other parts. Could I not get at least some of my vitamin C through drinking raspberry (or blackberry) leaf tea?
And those leaves are greens, and greens are known for being good sources of calcium and magnesium.
I got online and did some research.
Sure enough, raspberry leaf tea packs a good wallop of all three nutrients (plus a few more). In addition, the two or three websites I read mentioned that the nutrients in such a tea are very bio-available. By that I inferred that one would get more than the typical 30% absorption rate of nutrients (that’s for both food and non-liquid supplements).
By muscle-testing, I discovered that one ounce of fresh leaves – that’s a large handful – replaces about half the calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C I generally need. So I’ve been steeping that much of raspberry and/or blackberry leaves every morning, and drinking the resulting brew.
It seems to be working. My eyes are still functioning well, and I haven’t had restless legs.
I would use two ounces of leaves and eliminate those supplements entirely if I thought I could spare them. But I don’t know if I could at the moment. However, I plant to propagate some raspberries and blackberries elsewhere so that I can.
What will I do in the winter when the leaves dry up and fall off? Cabbage, broccoli, and/or kale tea!
The tea takes care of half my magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C daily supplementation need. What about the rest?
I will probably be able to skip a day here and there of iron once my body sees that I’m serious about eating salmon three times a week. The Thyrocsin I will be able to eliminate once I get egg yolks back into my diet on a daily basis (but I’m going to wait on that until we have laying hens next year.).
Do you need to supplement if you eat healthy? I used to believe the answer was yes. But if you don’t count herbal teas as supplements, and you are willing to eat the necessary foods to get the nutrients you need, the fact is, you may not need to.
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