I'm a big believer in getting vitamins and nutrients through the food you eat. This guarantees that they are in their most natural form and easiest for the human body to breakdown and use. However, I also realize that it's not easy to eat in a way to make this happen. This is where supplements enter the equation.
sup*ple*ment - noun: Something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole
Too often people look for the easy way out and think that they can replace healthy eating with vitamins and protein shakes. As you can see above, the definition of supplement is to ADD to complete a thing. In this case, we are adding a supplement to complete our required nutrition. We are not substituting.
A few years ago I was looking for a good Omega-3 / fish oil supplement. After reading about the many benefits of fish oil with EPA and DHA, I realized that I was not getting enough of the nutrient in my diet. The best natural forms of EPA and DHA are found in wild-caught, deep-water fish and seafood, such as salmon, trout and sardines. You can also find Omega-3 fats in chia seeds, flaxseeds and leafy greens.
I was only eating fish about once a week and knew that I needed more. Instead of asking my wife to fix fish for dinner more often, I decided to find a supplement. So I started by just looking for a good Fish Oil gel capsule at Meijer. Big mistake! After about a week of popping these after dinner, I was sick of the burping. I knew that this was a common side-effect, but I wasn't sure why. I did some research and found out that the indigestion was a product of a crappy supplement. Turns out that most fish oil/Omega-3 supplements that you find on the shelves in a grocery store are very unstable and degrade very quickly. Once they go bad, the oxidized fish oils actually become harmful for human consumption...and make you burp. Taking fish oil capsules that have gone bad increase the risk of blood clotting and hardening of arteries...which is basically what people take them to AVOID!
After doing lots of research on supplement companies to find one that made a high quality fish oil supplement, I came across Garden of Life. They only use raw, whole foods, from organically grown sources in their supplements...as close as you can get to getting the nutrients by eating actual food. 99% of the vitamins and supplements you find on the shelves are full of fillers. These fillers are added for several reasons. To make the manufacturing process easier and faster, to add colors to the pill/supplement to make it look more appealing, and to coat it with something so it's easier to swallow. None of this is necessary and is actually harmful. These additives and fillers are hard for your body to digest and actually block the absorption of the nutrients that you are trying to get! It's really sad that so many people spend their hard-earned money buying something that they think is going to make them healthier, when it reality it's doing to opposite. Some common fillers are Hydrogenated Oils, Magnesium Stearate, Titanium Dioxide, and Artificial colors.
I switched to Garden of Life Omega-3 pills and have never burped up a single one. So stay away from the shelves at Meijer, Kroger, Walmart, Cosco, etc. You have a very slim chance of finding a quality vitamin or supplement in these stores. Garden of Life brand products can be found at most health food stores like Earth Fare, Whole Foods, or Rainbow Blossom. We've tried to order them online from Amazon, but they showed up in a box that was about 120 degrees on the inside...making the product useless. My wife had to battle with Amazon and their supplier for a long time to get our money back. So stick with just buying them in the store. On that note, probiotics should be kept in a refrigerated section. If they are on a shelf at room temperature, don't buy them!
In full disclosure, I am currently sponsored by Garden of Life...but I sought them out as a sponsor after using and recommending their products for many years. I would never encourage anyone to use a product that I didn't use and believe in myself. I'm sure that there are other companies out there that make high-quality, whole food supplements, but I haven't looked for them since finding Garden of Life.
So what supplements do I take daily and what do I give to my family? Here you go...
Omega-3: Oceans 3 Better Brain
Vitamin D3: Vitamin Code Raw D3
Probiotics: Raw Probiotics Men
Omega-3: Oceans 3 Oceans Mom
Vitamin B-Complex: Vitamin Code Raw B-Complex
Vitamin D3: Vitamin Code Raw D3
Probiotics: Raw Probiotics Women
Prenatal: Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal
Multivitamin: Vitamin Code Kids
Garden of Life just sent me some new things to try out. So I'm going to give a few of these a try and I'll let you know if any of them make it into the rotation. I'm particularly excited about the Ω-Zyme ULTRA. These digestive enzymes will help me process proteins, fats and carbs when taken with each meal.
For more on Luke's blog and a giveaway he is having, go to http://lukeapowell.blogspot.com/2013/06/supplements-101.html