Many of us grew up taking vitamins or at least being told that we should take vitamins.
I remember looking forward to my Flintstone vitamin. My mom was in the camp of parents in the 80’s and 90’s that believed she “should” give us vitamins everyday, but she wasn’t consistent, so it was a special treat when we had the chewable, Flintstone vitamins in the medicine cabinet.
They looked like they were going to taste like candy, and even though they weren’t as sweet, it was still a satisfying, sour, powdery, crush between my teeth.
I have no idea if my body was more nourished by eating those things. I don’t even know if my mom knew if they were any good.
You're supposed to give your children vitamins, so she did; some of the time.
I grew up blindly trusting that vitamins were good for me, however they’re formulated, processed, and manufactured; it must be what I need in my body. It’s not a subject to sharpen my critical thinking skills on.
I was wrong.
The nutrition industry in general and the supplement industry in particular are very complicated places. It’s easy to get discouraged when every time you thought something was healthy, you’re now finding out it wasn't healthy after all.
Rather than the stress of constantly being on the defense, I’d like to give you a few tips that will help you easily sift through all the information and make the best choices when it comes to supplementation.
First things first, it’s important to contextualize:
Nutrition should be coming from our diet! This is made possible by the bulk of your diet consisting of locally grown fruits and vegetables (ideally organic or eco certified) with seeds, nuts, legumes, and other plant-based foods.
Since most of us don’t have all year, bulk access to locally grown produce, we need to supplement our diet to get all the nutrients our body needs to thrive.
If you want the nutritional information on the supplement facts chart of the product to actually translate to health benefits for your body, it’s necessary that the product meets the following standards.
Quick warning: Most supplements won’t meet these standards. That’s not a surprise since it’s expensive to make quality nutritional supplements and they’re not easy or as sexy to market and advertise.
- The ingredients are plants that when digested by your body, yield vitamins and minerals and much more. This means you’ll see the names of food on the supplement facts chart and below it in the “Other Ingredients” section.
- Like #1, the ingredients are plants, but the formulation also includes added vitamins and minerals that are extracted from a plant source (not made in a lab).
- The ingredients are only vitamins and minerals like #2, but they’re included as a whole complex (e.g. B-Vitamins Complex or Mineral Complex) and not as an isolated vitamin or mineral. Vitamins and Minerals work together in teams when digested by your body, so they should all be available in the formula.