We all know how important getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals is to our health. How exactly to get enough of each vitamin, however, is another story.
We field questions all the time from Thrivers who are trying to choose between the thousands of multivitamins and supplements out there. In this installment, we asked our resident Health Coach, Jennifer Hall Taylor from Buckwheat to Butter to demystify vitamins and supplements for us.
I read so many articles and see so many news reports on the latest supplements that I should be taking, but if I took them all, I'd be swallowing 100 pills a day. Do vitamins make that much of a difference, and if so, which ones do I really need?
In a perfect world, we would all have access to a varied, whole foods-based diet from unpolluted sources that would provide us with all the vitamins and minerals we require. That said, modern agriculture and modern living have depleted both our food sources and our bodies of some important vitamins.
Studies on the efficacy of supplementation are inconclusive at best. There are practitioners who swear by certain supplements, while others claim them to be completely useless. The best rule of thumb is to eat a varied, plant-based diet, and to try to “eat the rainbow” over the course of the day. By filling your plate with produce in a range of colors, you are likely going to get most all of the vitamins and minerals you require.
The vitamin that is near impossible to get enough of through diet is Vitamin D. We get Vitamin D primarily from the sun. The combination of extensive and recommended sunscreen use and people having indoor jobs has created a wide spread Vitamin D deficiency. You can eat foods fortified with Vitamin D (milk or nut milk) and try to get 10 minutes a day of late morning or early afternoon sun on your arms (without sunscreen) to boost your Vitamin D levels. There are Vitamin D supplements on the shelves, but I recommend getting a blood test from your doctor to see if you are deficient and asking for his or her advice about what supplement to use if you require one.
Vitamin B12 is an important supplement for anyone on a vegan diet. You can get B12 in blue green algae, but it is otherwise very hard to get from a strict plant-only diet.
Probiotics are the one supplement I recommend to all of my clients. You can get probiotics through your diet by eating yogurt, kefir, and raw fermented foods like kevita, kombucha, kvass, and raw sauerkraut.
No matter what supplement you may take, it is worth spending the extra money to get a high quality, food-based supplement as opposed to a synthetic supplement from a drugstore. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, it is all about what your body actually absorbs and the rate of absorption is higher from food-based supplements than synthetics.
A health coach is a wellness professional and mentor who provides resources and support to people looking to make and sustain healthy choices to their diets and lifestyles. Our resident holistic health coach, Jennifer Hall Taylor of Buckwheat To Butter, draws from a wide range of dietary, exercise and mindfulness theories in her practice, to encourage each person to find his or her unique path to optimal health. We've asked Jennifer to answer our burning health-related questions from readers like you.