Do Dietary Supplements Work?
You don’t believe in supplements, do you?
Or maybe you do believe and take supplements regularly.
Behind any of our activities lay complex chemical reactions. Each of them requires the availability of very specific minerals, vitamins, and other biologically active molecules.
If essential minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients are not available the biological-chemical reaction either cannot happen or go wrong, meaning that processes in our body go wrong which ultimately leads to diseases.
Nutrient-Rich Wahl’s Protocol
The best way to ensure the availability of essential nutrients is through nutrient-rich food. Such nutrition can sometimes reverse even the hardest chronic diseases as in the case of Dr. Terry Wahls who created her “Modern Hunter-Gatherer Protocol”. She was able to recover from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and return back to active life. The main points of Wahl’s Protocol are eating daily:
- 3 plates of leafy greens especially kale, for minerals and vitamins
- 3 plates of cruciferous veggies, namely cabbages, onions, garlic, and mushrooms for sulfur needed by the immune system and detox process
- 3 plates of brightly colored veggies or berries for antioxidants
- Fatty Fish for protein and omega-3
- High-quality meat: grass-fed, organic, and especially organ meat for vitamins B, minerals, protein, and more
- Seaweed for iodine
- Fermented veggies like sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. for a healthy microbiome
- No processed food
Processed and fast foods lack numerous essential nutrients. Their consumption leads to obesity, diabetes, learning and behavioral problems, and further health problems.
Supplements should only serve as an augmentation to:
Dr. A. Huberman
- proper nutrition protocol
- medicational protocol
- behavioral protocol
Why Taking Dietary Supplements
Certain biologically active compounds are rare or not present in soils and therefore in our foods too like rare metals selenium, zink, or vitamin D. Moreover, due to heavy exploitation, soils got poorer as well as foods grown on them even when they are ecologically grown.
So, certain minerals and compounds need to be supplemented in order for you to stay fit and healthy. Especially if one is already ill supplements can be helpful or even necessary for restoring health.
Reliable Information about Supplements on Examine.com
Watch this video to learn if supplements work, which supplements work, and much more! I am talking in this video about the database Examine.com
There are many great books written about supplements. Some are very useful because they go in-depth about specific conditions.
Examine.com can be a great additional resource for knowledge.
🧐 On Examine.com you can find reliable, scientifically-based information on supplements, how they help in different conditions, and how to take them. Much information is available for free.
😎 On Examine.com, you can take a free introductory course on supplements for free.
🤩 Examine.com can help you not waste money on supplements that do not work.
Ask your doctor for advice or find a doctor who is able to consult you about the supplements suitable for you.
Requirements for Dietary Supplements
Choosing your supplements pay attention to:
- High quality and certification of that. This will be reflected in the price but will absolutely pay off, The quality of dietary supplements is far less regulated than that of medicines and is far less reliable.
For example, Curcumin supplements will differ from each other in the quality of the plant source depending on geography, quality of soils, season, etc. The quality of turmeric supplements is defined largely by the relative amount of the bioactive component Curcumin. Nevertheless, it is known that cheaper products add synthetic Curcumin to the natural extract. This lowers the price but also the quality of the supplement.
- Bioavailability – not everything you are putting in your mouth will be absorbed by your organism.
- Therefore, for minerals, choose only organic salts (citrate, chelate, bisglycinate, etc) which are absorbed much better in contrast to inorganic salts (chloride, phosphate, etc).
- Compatibility – certain bioactive components will suppress the intake of others like calcium will always suppress the uptake of iron. Fat-soluble vitamins can be combined well with each other and taken with oil.
High-quality supplements (usually more expensive) take this into account in their combined supplements. Low-quality cheap supplements
- Choose supplements with the least auxiliary materials which might interfere with absorption especially if your digestion is slower or you have certain sensitivities.
- Pay attention to your food intolerances. If a supplement contains components that you are sensitive to the main component will be poorly assimilated in your gut.
For example, if you poorly tolerate milk products you should not take supplements containing lactose which is a popular additive in formulations.
- Consider choosing advanced formulations like liposomal (or micellular) forms. Such supplements can be stabilized, easier absorbed, stay longer in our body and penetrate our cells easier – we get the most advantage due to the highest bioavailability. Liquid, non-capsulated liposomal materials are a great option with fewer auxiliary materials.
Specifics of Some Essential Supplements
Exposure to sunlight and high vitamin D levels correlate with physical and mental health and low levels of chronic diseases. People living in mid-and North Europe can be strongly deficient in Vitamin D in winter because of short days, the rainy climate, and the indoor lifestyle.
Spend more time outdoors to raise your vitamin D levels naturally.
If you have low vitamin D blood levels and decide to take a supplement it is best to take Vitamin D combined with vitamin K. These fat-soluble vitamins are important for bone and cardiovascular health and have a synergetic effect – have a stronger effect when taken together.
My favorite supplement is VitOrtho Liposomal vitamin D3 and K2 liquid, a non-capsulated formulation.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for nerve cells (but not only) and for good memory.
Fish liver oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids but the liver of the big fish accumulates heavy metals and therefore can be harmful. As with other supplements, one needs to pay attention to the quality – buy the brand that purifies the oil and monitors the quality closely.
There are brands that do not smell much and add lemon for a better smell and taste.
Krill oil is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. Magnesium takes part in over 300 enzymatic reactions and is crucial for energy generation.
There are many types of magnesium supplements. Magnesium supplements are magnesium compounds. The complementary component of magnesium in the supplement has its own effect on your body. And thus each form of magnesium supplement will have its unique effect on your health. You need to choose the type of magnesium supplement that suits best your needs:
😁 Magnesium glycinate for relaxation, better mood, and wellbeing; best if you have the tendency to diarrhea
💪 Magnesium malate for higher energy levels and against pain
❤️ Magnesium taurate for cardiovascular support
🧠 Magnesium threonate passes the blood-brain barrier and thus is the best for improving memory and cognitive function and preventing cognitive decline
😴 Magnesium citrate for relaxation and better sleep, against constipation
Magnesium chloride is applied topically against pain and cramps.
Magnesium oxide is an inorganic compound and should not be taken as a supplement due to poor bioavailability.
Selenium and Iodine
Selenium and Iodine are essential for our health, especially thyroid function. Both are rare and need to be supplemented.
Unfortunately, the addition of iodine to salt and through that to many products led to uncontrolled consumption of iodine. Excess of added iodine in combination with selenium deficiency correlates directly with the occurrence of thyroid autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis!
Mind the amount of iodine that you take in, controlling the products containing it.
The best Selenium supplement is its methionine form.
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant from turmeric (Curcuma). It also supports your immune system and protects you from cancer.
Curcuma has a short residence time in the human body. It is quickly excreted from your body. But there are advanced formulas on the market that stay longer in your body and therefore are much more effective, such as
- Curcuma combined with piperine has 3 times longer residence time in your body
- Liposomal curcumin from Vitortho has about 30 times higher bioavailability.
You definitely need to consult your physician or specialist before taking any supplements! Supplements or their additives, or specific dosages can be harmful in your specific case.
For example, curcumin (Curcuma, or turmeric) has numerous valuable properties. Among them is the blood thinning property which you can use. But you should never take curcumin if you take already a blood-thinning medicine prescribed by your doctor for your condition. It could truly lead to a life-threatening situation.
Consult Your Doctor
You should definitely talk to your doctor before taking dietary supplements.
You can use the scientific information from examine.com to talk to your doctor and find the best solution for you.
Dietary Supplements Q&A
I have a gastrointestinal problem, can you tell me if I should take supplements? Will they be digested?
Most supplements are small molecules that are easy to digest. But they themselves can affect digestion, and depending on the form, their digestibility changes.
For example, magnesium is important for the nervous, hormonal, and muscular systems. There are many forms of magnesium supplements. Magnesium bisglycinate is best taken with a tendency to diarrhea, and magnesium citrate with a tendency to constipation.
First of all, I would check which foods I react sensitively to and exclude them from the diet. The most common food triggers are gluten and dairy.
Secondly, I would switch to a nutrient-rich diet – a modern hunter-gatherer protocol.
Thirdly, I would take supplements of substances that are missing in the diet. Depending on the place of residence, it can be vitamin D, selenium, iodine, omega acids, and magnesium.
Fourth, if the problems with the gastrointestinal tract are not resolved, I would look for supplements that are useful for gastrointestinal health.
Along with a positive mindset, proper diet, and lifestyle, supplements can help you feel well, prevent diseases and even reverse diseases.
- You need to have reliable information about supplements that can help you personally.
- Examine.com is such a source of scientifically proven information.
- Consult your doctor before taking supplements.
- Use the information from examine.com when consulting with your doctor.
Please share in the comments below how supplements have helped you.
- The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Princip les. Terry Wahls M.D.
- The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life: The Revolutionary Modern Paleo Plan to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Paperback – 4. April 2017 by Terry Wahls M.D., Eve Adamson
- Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back by Izabella Wentz PharmD.
- Anand P, Kunnumakkara AB, Newman RA, Aggarwal BB. Bioavailability of curcumin: problems and promises. Mol Pharm. 2007 Nov-Dec;4(6):807-18. doi: 10.1021/mp700113r. Epub 2007 Nov 14. PMID: 17999464.
- Kim DC, Ku SK, Bae JS. Anticoagulant activities of curcumin and its derivative. BMB Rep. 2012 Apr;45(4):221-6. doi: 10.5483/bmbrep.2012.45.4.221. PMID: 22531131.
- Dwyer JT, Coates PM, Smith MJ. Dietary Supplements: Regulatory Challenges and Research Resources. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 4;10(1):41. doi: 10.3390/nu10010041. PMID: 29300341; PMCID: PMC5793269.
- Mudge EM, Betz JM, Brown PN. The Importance of Method Selection in Determining Product Integrity for Nutrition Research. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(2):390-398. Published 2016 Mar 15. doi:10.3945/an.115.010611
- Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015 Sep 23;7(9):8199-226. doi: 10.3390/nu7095388. PMID: 26404370; PMCID: PMC4586582.