One of the most common questions I receive is, “Should I take a nutritional supplement?” The nutritional supplement industry is big business. Let’s try to answer that question. This is my opinion from the study and research I have done, as well as my experience with patients. See if the answer makes sense to you.

    In fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains, God has given us the nutrients we need to stay healthy. There are two nutritional supplements that healthy people sometimes need.

    One is Vitamin D. Vitamin D is actually a pro-hormone that is involved in many chemical reactions. It helps make , which lowers the risk of depression. Vitamin D aids in calcium metabolism, helping our bones stay strong. Vitamin D also has a role in regulating blood pressure. These are just a few of the many roles of Vitamin D in the body. Some people, who cannot get out in the sunlight for 30 minutes three times a week, may need a Vitamin D supplement. If you do not know your levels, a simple blood test is available.

    Another supplement a healthy individuals might need, if they are strict vegans, is Vitamin B12. This can be found as a supplement or a fortified substance in food.

    When we take mega amounts of nutritional supplements, we can disrupt the normal receptors of the cell. In 2011, the landmark Iowa Women’s Health Study reported that woman taking popular vitamin and mineral health supplements were at greater risk than those not taking nutritional supplements. French horns in an orchestra are great. However, if an orchestra has 40 French horns and they drown out the other instruments, the orchestra will not sound in balance. The body is much more complicated than an orchestra. Taking mega amounts of individual nutrients, out of context to the entire system, may not be good for the body. Reductionism is a term used to describe how nutrition is generally investigated and interpreted in reference to the activities of individual nutrients. Individual nutrients are useful in deficient states; however, research often ignores the coordinated and integrated reactions that occur in the body. There is so much we do not know. Focusing on the entire system and how the system works together is termed wholism. We are still learning the complexities of the human body and I say, until the Creator tutors me, there is much I will never know.

    I am not addressing a diseased or deficient state. If a person is in a deficient state, like anemia (where iron is needed), or a person has lost calcium over time and has weak bones, individual nutritional supplements may be needed. Certain supplements may help for a given medical condition. Even in these conditions, I have found the real food in the natural state to be more valuable than the concentrated nutrient. These extra nutrients can usually be found in targeted foods. Food in its natural state has a much better delivery system to the cells. Sometimes I encounter people who believes with all their hearts they need a nutritional supplement. I have seen healing beliefs actually help the health of a person. If you fall into this category, read all you can about the substance you are ingesting and make sure you have a reliable source. If you are taking a nutritional supplement for a medical condition, make sure you see a professional who knows the proper use. Also talk to your doctor if you are taking prescription medications that might have interactions. The nutritional supplement industry will definitely disagree with me on this one.

    The issue of herbal supplements for a diseased state is a complex and entirely different issue. Think and pray for yourself. Our Ultimate Physician wants us to be healthy and will help us develop common sense.