Madrona Nutrition and Fitness: Recipe and Nutrition Guide

Madrona Nutrition and Fitness:
Guide to Wellness through Holistic Diet
and Lifestyle

Rachel Fiske
Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant,
Certified Personal Trainer

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lets Talk About Supplements

As you have likely gathered from my history of articles, I’m definitely not a big pusher of supplements. I strongly believe that it is essential to take in the bulk of our nutrients via food, and this is for several reasons. The first being that when we obtain a particular nutrient from food, it comes encased with a multitude of other vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and trace minerals that allow our body to effectively absorb and assimilate that nutrient, therefore reaping the benefit far more than if we were to take an isolated supplement.

It is also of utmost important that we remember two key facts:

  1. All Supplements are NOT created equal!
  2. More is NOT necessarily better!

           One amazing thing about the body is that it self-regulates, meaning if we are taking in vitamins and minerals via food, we have the ability to use what we need, and discard what we don’t. Studies have actually suggested that taking too many (particularly synthetic…think drug-store brands, centrum, etc) supplements have been linked to higher rates of cancer! See this link for more info.

Synthetic brand supplements are often chalked full of preservatives, colorings, and other chemicals. Holistic Nutritionist Mary Vance offers a fun experiment to place your multi-vitamin in a glass of water or lemon water. If it doesn’t dissolve, its probably not dissolving in your body, either.

With that said, lets be realistic! In an ideal world, we would all eat 5-9 servings of organic, fresh, antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables daily, and would therefore be getting all of our nutrient needs met. However, due to our busy lives, nutrient depletion in soil from commercial farming, pesticides and herbicides used on crops, and other factors as well, many of us are not taking in the amount of nutrients that our body requires for optimal function and disease prevention. Below are a list of particular supplements many people can benefit from, and rules as to what to look for when choosing a brand:

1.     Magnesium: an important nutrient essential for relaxation of nerves and muscles, building strong bones, and keeping blood circulating smoothly. We use up our magnesium stores at a much faster rate when under stress. The best source of supplementation is via Epsom Salt baths, as our skin is our largest organ and will best absorb the nutrient. Or, try a powder or capsule form supplement. Easy clue as to whether you’ve overdone the dosage: if you experience runny stool, simply back off! Start with recommended dosage.
2.     Fish Oil: Omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for reducing inflammation, maintaining cell membrane integrity, lowering lipids circulating in the bloodstream, helping prevent cancer cell growth, and SO much more. If we cook with vegetable oils like canola (see past articles for why NEVER to do this!), we are likely out of balance in terms of our omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Unless we eat cold water, wild caught fish 3-4 times/week, a good quality fish oil is a great idea. I recommend Green Pastures brand, which can be purchased online at, particularly their non-gelatin fermented cod liver oil capsules.
3.     Multi-Vitamin: While a good multi-vitamin shouldn’t be used as a crutch (aka, don’t assume your multi will make up for poor quality foods), a high quality multi won’t hurt to attempt at filling some gaps. Opt for a food based supplement, as this will be more effectively assimilated by the body.
4.     Probiotics: Most of us have some sort of impaired digestion, and probiotics won’t hurt. If we have any history of antibiotic use, NSAID (advil, ibprofin, Tylenol, etc) use, candida, food sensitivities, a history of a SAD (standard american diet) high in processed and refined foods, digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, or even fatigue, insomnia, headaches (the list could go on and on), this could be a sign of insufficient good gut bacteria. Taking a probiotic and/or eating naturally fermented foods like raw sauerkraut on a regular basis can have numerous benefits. I like the brand Dr. Ohirras probiotics. Working with a health care professional can get you access to a professional grade probiotic.
5.    READ THE LABELS! As we’ve discussed before being a detective when deciphering food labels, the same goes for supplements. Opt for the list with the least amount of added ingredients, and if you don’t know what something is, look it up! Working with a professional can help you determine which supplements may be right for you, and in what dosage. Self-diagnosis can be a slippery slope!

As always, contact me with further questions, and here’s to a happy and healthy fall season!


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