Supplementation: Hype or Science – Part 1

Diana Palmer, BS, CPT

Let’s begin by saying the very best way to get your vitamins, minerals, omega’s, anti-oxidants and all the other things that you keep hearing that you need, is from whole foods; period. What is a whole food? Generally, it contains only one ingredient: the vegetable, fruit or protein that defines it, such as tomato, corn, egg, fish, etc.

Okay, now how many of you get everything you need from what you eat daily? If you think you do, how do you know? Do you eat at least every four hours? Do you always eat breakfast? Do you ever skip meals? Are you eating a balanced diet (somewhere between 45-55% carbohydrates – majority being complex; 30% fat – majority being mono or poly-unsaturated and the rest from lean protein sources)? Are you eating cold water fish one or two times per week? Do you eat colorful food (green, yellow, orange, red, purple, etc.)? I could go on and on.

If you are anything like me, occasionally you skip a meal, or occasionally your meal consists of chips (hopefully organic), salsa and cheese. Yes, I admit it, sometimes I have a less than ideal meal, if for no other reason, I am food lazy some days.

Therefore, some of us may benefit from a supplement(s). What do you look for? Be aware that many supplements are the product of total marketing hype. You can spend a lot of money and get very little. Keep in mind that if a vitamin company is spending gazillions of dollars on advertising (think Centrum and One-a-Day), you might wonder how much money is actually being spent on research, development and quality ingredients. Find out as much as possible about the supplement you are interested in by looking at the grade and quality.

You may think you need something called pharmaceutical grade supplements. Consumable items have three major grades. The first is “feed” grade which refers to consumables fit for livestock and pets. Next is “food” grade which means fit for human consumption. Finally there’s “pharmaceutical” grade, which simply means that there are fewer foreign particulates found in specific quantities of raw materials (i.e. rat hairs and rat feces). Each grade just has different amounts of, if you’ll pardon my French, poop. What your label really needs to have on it is the acronym GMP, which per Wikipedia: “Good manufacturing practice” or “GMP” are practices and the systems required to be adapted in pharmaceutical manufacturing, quality control, quality system covering the manufacture and testing of pharmaceuticals or drugs including active pharmaceutical ingredients, diagnostics, foods, pharmaceutical products, and medical devices. At the very least, make sure your supplements follow GMPs.

Tune in next month for Part II.

Diana is a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer in St. Petersburg helping many develop better physical health.