Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To Supplement or Not To Supplement

To supplement or not to supplement…that is the confusion!

As a macrobiotic counselor, I have felt strongly on getting every nutritional need met from daily good quality food choices and sources. Dr. Frank A Carbo, senior editor of Chiropractic Wellness and Fitness magazine, states two reasons why our food sources are not enough anymore. “First, globally, our food sources are becoming depleted of nutrients because the soils in which they grow are over harvested, and lack nutrients. Secondly, individually, our choice of foods can themselves lack the essential nutrients”.

The main objective of my job has been to guide people in the prevention of disease and the maintenance of good health. Now my job task has become helping people out of crisis and into wellness. Within the first 6 years of my practice, I found that I could create an eating/nutritional protocol for someone and within weeks noticeable results were attained. The guidelines would serve nicely as a springboard to continue with the “new” lifestyle to create optimal health. But, this is not true today. As our lives get busier and more stressful, the antidote of proper eating and healthy habits has to be brought up a notch just to keep us on the “healthy” side of the race. And, bringing it up to par means a lot more food…good quality and prepared appropriately. Can we eat as many nutrients as our bodies’ require? Here is where supplements are needed some of the time. Ideally, it would be great to go back to the source and supplement the depleted soil. But, don’t get me started on that subject…

By now we are agreeing that sometimes you may need supplementation. So what is a supplement? A supplement is a concentrated nutrient that is ingested in a concentrated way to saturate the body in order to increase depleted levels. The body has a monitoring system that triggers the memory amount of nutrients so when it is provided with correct amount it is recalibrated to maintain that level again. Usually a 3-4 mos. protocol is sufficient to bring the levels back to normal. Depending on your goals, you can reduce, rotate or stop the supplementation.

How do you determine how much supplementation is needed? Preferably you will be under the guidance of a trusted practitioner. Nonetheless, here is a brief summary of Supplement Terminology 101.

Nutrients are divided into two categories, macro (big) and micro (small) nutrients. Macronutrients are complex carbohydrates, simple proteins (bean and bean products)/complex proteins (animal source) and essential fats. These you get from the “bulk” of your daily diet and they are measured in grams. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. These you get from the “fiber” part of your daily diet, mostly in fruits and vegetables. These are measured in milligrams. You need a nice balance of both to create your personal health balance.

So here we go. There are several different measuring systems used today. The RDA (recommended daily allowance), the ODA (optimal daily allowance), the DOI (daily optimal intake) and the SONA (suggested optimal daily nutritional allowance) are the main ones. Don’t get choked on the terminology.
The only two I concentrate on are the RDA and SONA. Let me help you put them in perspective.

The RDA’s were developed for healthy people under normal life circumstances to prevent the development of deficiencies leading to disease. In other words these people had no pre existing illness, no genetic weakness and no environmental exposure…really?... like in Avitar?
The RDAs are based on scientific research that is judged by the Food and Nutrition Board to be the adequate known nutrient needs for healthy people. The first published recommendation was in 1943 and is updated every five years or so. So if you fall under the “Avitar” category you can guide yourself by the RDAs to maintain your health levels.
But, if you are like the rest of us and live in a fast paced, technology driven, always connected, poor food choices which lack nutrition… in other words, real America, then you want to look at the SONA guideline.
The SONA guideline was developed by Alex Schauss, PH.D, from the extensive work done by Emanuel Cheraskin and W.M. Ringsdorf Jr. over a 15 year study. This study correlated the intake of specific nutrients to specific health issues and tried to find a truly ideal level of intake for each nutrient.
But before you run out to the vitamin store, I want to remind you of two other very important elements that support life-long health and energy. They are exercise and a positive attitude.
In summary, we all need a little help now and then.
Here are my 5 guidelines for proper supplementation.
1. Be wise- do your research and don’t just depend on the media to guide you.
2. Work with a practitioner you trust- one that knows you well especially your health patterns.
3. Choose high quality and trustworthy products.
4. Choose liquids or powders whenever possible for easier digestion and absorption.
5. Rotate and rest from supplementation.
6. True long lasting health comes from the conscious daily choice of real and optimum quality food not from a pill.

“Let your spirit and the influence of a higher power guide you to your goal of health and rebirth because that quality of healing, you can never get from a pill”. Controlling Crohn’s Disease the Natural Way


  1. The RDA guidelines were not developed for healthy/normal people under normal circumstances. It was developed to assess the bare minimum of nutrients a male serving in the armed forces needed to survive.

    Another reason NO ONE should go by RDA guidelines: we all have different body types, different health issues, and different lifestyles. A pregnant women, a small child, an overweight male, cannot be held to the same standards under the RDA guidelines. Not to mention that the advocaters of the guidelines and the doctors that push them, have had little to no training in nutrition and are unaware of the true balance of vitamins and minerals in the body. These guidelines come from a society that believes osteoporosis is caused by a calcium deficiency....I could go on.

    In fact, the official who is in charge of setting the RDA standards has denounced them as inadequate for a normal, healthy, human being but says he was forced to endorse those results.

    You are right that supplementation may be necessary in today's society. Every health issue is either caused by toxicity or malnutrition and I have yet to meet someone who does not fall into one of those categories....a category that could be benefited by supplementation.

    - From a natural health therapist, naturopathic doctor in training, and someone who stayed at your center, practiced macrobiotics, and got into remission through herbal supplementation.

    :) Hope all is well. Nice blog!!

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