Health & Wellness

Why Choose to Supplement?

Amy Wilson

I often get asked: why do we need to supplement? What supplements do I need to take? Is it all really necessary? These are some of my favorite questions to be asked. Depending on the individual, there are many directions this conversation can go. I get it, supplementation is huge and can be very overwhelming. The world of health is a booming industry and we see pills and powders everywhere! Supplements may take up entire walls in your local grocery store. They are constantly advertised on TV commercials. You see them on various social media accounts and more. With such an overwhelming presence, we tend to be bombarded with decisions.
That is why, I am going to try and break it down for you based on the most common questions I receive about supplements, and what I value as important for an answer.

If I eat healthy already, why do I need to supplement?

I have two responses to this question. First, there are many vitamin and mineral deficiencies North Americans are challenged with. For example, magnesium is deficient in most North Americans. This is actually a key mineral in many body processes, like muscle relaxation and helping our body create energy. Some research suggests up to 60% or more of North Americans are not reaching their adequate requirements of magnesium through diet alone. This may be due to a few reasons. Our soils have been striped of rich vitamins and minerals due to conventional growing methods. With each new growing year, our soils become more depleted. This leaves the food they grow less rich in the minerals and vitamins necessary for our well-being. A diet that lacks fruit and vegetables (and a lot of them!) can be another reason we see vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It is recommended that we consume 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This can definitely be a challenge to many, if not most, North Americans - myself included some days! In Canada, many people also lack iron, B vitamins, Calcium and essential fatty acids; just to name a few. The lack of these essential vitamins and minerals in many Canadians diets is not new news. Many shelved foods are ‘fortified’ with vitamins and minerals already in order to attempt to make up for this. Pastas, breads, and alternative dairy products are just a few items that have already had vitamins added to them in Canada. So even if you didn’t think you were supplementing, if you eat grain products in Canada, chances are you have been for some time now. Bone Broth

Why buy bone broth/collagen/protein? Should I not just make my own food?

YES! I will always answer "yes" to this question. Please everyone, cook wholesome foods and feed it to your family, friends and loved ones. With that being said, I recognize that we live in an incredibly busy society. This means we do not always have the time or energy to make this happen. Personally speaking, I love to cook for myself and I do it every day. However, with my busy schedule, I don't have the time to make a bone broth from scratch or get to my local butcher for that top-quality cut of meat. That's when I use the conveniences of a supplement like collagen powder. I use bone broth and/or proteins powder to ensure I get adequate daily gut repair, as well as immune, tissue and muscle support. Life can get incredibly hectic and having a balanced diet to keep you sailing smooth is extremely important. That's why having a supplement can help meet your nutritional requirements. Hippocrates said it best: “Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Taking the time to cook nutritious and wholesome food will always be the best practice towards greater health. However, in today's society, using a supplement can be essential to your best health. Here are some great times to opt for a supplement:
  • When time is tight, and you have a hectic schedule, take a shortcut and make yourself a smoothie with a protein powder.
  • If you are training hard at the gym or even just noticing your joints are giving you more trouble than usual, put a scoop of collagen in your morning coffee.
  • When you feel that tickle in the back of your throat, but don't have time to make soup from scratch, grab some bone broth!
  • If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and are starting to feel a little sluggish, add some spirulina to your day.

Why not?

This is my question to you: why not? There is so much research coming out each day showing the benefits that supplements have to offer. Now, I am not saying believe everything you hear or read. Yet, we are more advanced with our understanding of human physiology and biology and what we can do to help complement our growth and development. Just think of how advanced medicine has become over the last 10+ years. Nutraceutical research and advancement is evolving quickly as well. We have learned that herbs such as Ashwagandha and Maca help our bodies manage stress better, that magnesium helps relieve muscle cramping and aids us into a deeper sleep, and that collagen powder not only helps build collagen tissue all over the body, but that it also contributes to the elasticity in our skin which gives us that ‘bounce back’ youthful look! The list goes on and on, so I ask you, why not?

To sum it all up!

You do not need to be taking every supplement on the market. Over the years I have always had a rule of no more than 2-3 supplements at a time. By doing this, you won't feel so overwhelmed. It will also be easier to remember to take them (and you won't break the bank!). If you are deficient in a vitamin or mineral, lacking energy, or experience trouble sleeping, talk to your health care provider. They can help you get an idea of what may be suitable to your needs. There is a lot of information available and it can get overwhelming at times. Your health care provider will be able to point you in the right direction. Eating well and exercising should always be your #1 prescription. However,  if you want to take your health up a notch, you may find something in your health food store to support your health goals.   Amy WilsonTake care everyone! Be happy, be healthy! Amy Wilson Amy is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with over 7 years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She is currently in her third year as a Naturopathic Medical Student and has a special interest in gut and brain health. Find her on Instagram: @amy_kwilson