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It’s a common argument: “You don’t need to take supplements if you eat a good diet.” Although a good diet is foundational to good health, supplements play an instrumental role in various health conditions.

People who don’t understand the value of supplements think they exist only to profit off of “suckers for snake oil.” To be sure, those products exist.

Others view them as dangerous and unregulated compounds that should be taken off the market. Those products exist as well.

The United States is unique compared to the rest of the west in terms of of the freedom of our supplement market. Supplement availability in Europe and Canada is severely limited compared to the United States.

With this comes pros and cons.

How to be a smart supplement shopper

The key to understanding supplements is to understand the underlying causes of your condition.

For instance, ten different people can each have a different cause for leaky gut, insomnia, pain, depression, and so on. Buying a “depression supplement,” or an “insomnia supplement,” can result in failure and frustration.

Also, quality matters. Supplements from your local chain supermarket are not going to meet the same standards of quality, care, specificity, and educational support of supplements sold through a practitioner.

The good news about our supplement market is we have access to high quality supplements and education.

Why you may need supplements

Here are some reasons you may need supplements even if you eat a pristine whole foods diet.

Because you are aging. As we age certain functions start to diminish, such as digestion, brain function, recovery time, hormone balance, and more.

Digestive supplements support diminishing hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzyme support. Brain nutrients help support oxygenation and activity of the brain (although they won’t compensate for poor diet and lifestyle). Various herbs support hormone balance and energy production.

Because we live in a stressful, toxic world.  We are dealing with extreme levels of  stress  and toxic chemicals in our food and environment. This contributes to such conditions as chronic pain, inflammation, autoimmunity, and brain dysfunctions. Many supplements are designed to buffer the effects of the stressful and toxic burdens we deal with daily.

Because many of us grew up eating a crap diet. You may eat a good diet now, but if you grew up on junk food and a sedentary lifestyle, you may have sustained metabolic damage, such as unstable blood sugar, hormonal imbalance, poor stress handling, chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, and more. These don’t always reverse themselves through diet alone.

Supplements geared toward stabilizing blood sugar, supporting stress handling, and taming inflammation can super charge your whole foods diet.

Because our foods are compromised. Even if you eat the perfect diet, studies show our foods aren’t as  nutrient dense  as they were in the past. You still may benefit from at least a good multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplement.

“Supplements” have a long history of use

This is a broad overview of ways supplements can help. Most supplements consist of herbs and other natural compounds that have sound scientific support and have been used throughout humanity around the globe. While pharmaceuticals have been a vital boon to medicine, they are also relative newcomers.

Ask my office for advice on how to supplement smartly.

Meet the Author

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM.

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM. is the founder of the Holistic Wellness Center of the Carolinas where he is the Director of Functional Medicine. He holds a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and is acupuncture physician and primary care physician in the state of Florida. His post-graduate focus has been in the fields of functional neurology, functional immunology, and functional endocrinology.

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