It's been kind of interesting for me to map my journey with supplements upon considering writing this post. I remembered when I studied herbal medicine, a good 13 years ago, that we were taught very little about supplements. Back then my cupboards were full of herbal extracts and mixing bottles...the end!
The extent of my supplementing was making sure I had specific foods in my diet to cover all of my nutrient requirements.
Somewhere in those 13 years an imbalance occurred, with the herbs diminishing and the countless bottles of supplements growing. Pill popping became part of my daily regime, seeing me sometimes taking anywhere up to 20 different supplements in a day!
Things have started to gradually shift again for me over the last 3 years. As I discovered the raw food world I kept hearing about plant based supplement options, and often heard the words synthetic, chemical and toxic attached to conversations about supplements...it got me thinking.
I remembered what I had learnt about the healing qualities of herbs and real foods....that it was all about the nutrient profile of the whole food and plant that made them powerful medicines not just any one part being taken, copied and turned into a tablet.
The sad truth is is that majority of supplements today are made of synthetic compounds produced in laboratories to mimic only the effective compound identified in medicinal plants.
Aside from the fact that these synthetic nutrients are just another mixed bag of chemicals to add to the thousands we are already exposed to daily, they are completely separated from all the other synergistic nutrients that magical plants and herbs contain. Natures purpose is ignored and long term our bodies are left to cope with a foreign compound that is found nowhere in nature.
Not only are the nutrients themselves synthetic and not from a living source but the rest of the ingredients that help make up the tablet, powder or capsule are also far from clean and pure. A lot of these fillers and binders are the same as those used to manufacture pharmaceutical medications.
The huge difference here being that pharmaceuticals were originally designed to be taken short term, today so many vitamin supplements are being taken daily, long term by millions of people all over the world. These extra chemicals, coupled with the synthetic nutrient, then build up in the body doing way more harm than the original good intention you took them with.
Such supplements never grew in the ground, never saw the light of day were never alive or a part of anything living. They really differ very little to other forms of laboratory made drugs.
Natural vitamins and minerals are not simply the solitary molecular compounds they are manufactured to become. Vitamins, minerals and enzymes among other natural compounds are meant to come as a package working closely together to achieve optimum nutrition in your body. If one part of this package is missing your body does not process this as it should. Instead entire metabolic processes don't proceed normally and your cells are starved of the essential nutrient they require.
Bottom line being that nutrients can not be isolated from their natural complexes and still perform the specific functions they ideally should in your body.
A conscious clear out of the cupboard is needed and the search begins for whole food supplements. They do exist but are sadly made by very few companies. Our diets often do need supplementing even when eating a pure and clean, plant based organic diet. With our soils being stripped of essential nutrients by decades of large scale commercial farming and the ever increasing onslaught of environmental toxins our bodies often become incredibly deficient in nutrients. There may be times when you need to supplement.
Make sure your products are derived from whole food sources, ie plants and herbs, are free from synthetic fillers and are encased in a vegetable cellulose capsule or come in pure powder form.
Luckily in the USA these options are far more accessible with on line stores like
In Australia we are getting there slowly with some products available if you search for them.