Whole fruits, vegetables, and high-quality proteins and fats are the foundation of a healthy, vibrant lifestyle. So why would you need any of the thousands of nutritional supplements that line grocery store shelves? It turns out there are a few really valid reasons you might want to consider some capsules and powders, even if your diet is already full of whole, minimally processed foods.
If you’re on the fence about supplements or you already take supplements, but aren’t really sure if it’s worth the extra cash, this article is for you.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What is a supplement?
- 6 reasons you should consider taking supplements
- How supplements fit into a real food diet
- How to start supplementing
A supplement is a micronutrient, macronutrient or blend of nutrients you can add to your diet to complete or round out your nutrient intake.
Supplements usually come in the form of tablets, capsules, powders, or liquids. Supplements can come from foods, like collagen derived from wild-caught fish, or synthetically in a lab. The nutrients you can buy run the gamut, from vitamins and minerals to amino acids and fatty acids.
Not getting enough fiber? There’s a powder for that. Want more plant-derived polyphenols? You can supplement with a greens powder or lab-made polyphenols in a pill. Nutritional supplements are so much more than your classic multi-vitamin. And there’s more than one reason why you might want to consider supplements, even you’re already eating a nutrient-dense diet.
1. Your food is less nutritious
At one time you might have been able to rely solely on a well-rounded diet for all of your nutrients, but not anymore. The food you eat today has measurably fewer nutrients than the food grown 50 years ago.
Modern farming practices focus on pest resistance and higher yields over nutrition and soil health. That means every year, top soils have fewer nutrients and less microbial diversity. Bigger and bigger fruits and vegetables usually mean more sugar and fewer nutrients as well.
In one landmark study from University of Texas, some 43 different fruits and vegetables were tested for nutrient density and compared to crops from 1950. Six out of the 13 nutrients tested showed “reliable declines” of up to 38% in some micronutrients between 1950 and 1999.
Your best bet is to buy your veggies from smaller, organic growers, but you still might want to supplement with a high-quality micronutrient blend.
2. There’s more to an animal than the muscle meat
Protein contains amino acids, the building blocks of tissues, muscles, neurotransmitters, and hormones. But the muscle meat from animals and fish won’t provide the full spectrum of amino acids and other micronutrients found in organ meats, tendon, and bone marrow.
Eating the whole animal – nose to tail – isn’t just done out of respect for the animal or sustainability. There is actually a whole range of nutrients in the “throw away” parts of the animal that many of us are missing out on.
The good news is you don’t have to suck on marrowbones to get these precious nutrients. Natural Force Collagen Peptides and Organic Bone Broth Protein are full of targeted amino acids that promote a healthy gut, stronger joints, and younger-looking skin.
3. Stress depletes nutrients
It’s no question that modern life puts a huge strain on our bodies and minds. Even positive events like marriage, having a baby, or buying a new home can release stress hormones that leave us tired and frazzled. Worse than that, chronic stress puts demands an increase in the production of stress hormones and certain neurotransmitters.
This means your body uses more of specific nutrients like calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and B vitamins to keep up.
Remember, even seemingly harmless events like your daily commute or CrossFit class can put unnatural amounts of stress on your body and brain. Make sure that you’re replenishing nutrients and getting plenty of clean protein and healthy fats to help support hormone and neurotransmitter production.
4. Supplements are easy to travel with and take on the go
Speaking of stress, travel – especially across time zones – has to be one of the most stressful things on the planet.
Supplements like protein powders, organic bone broth protein, and emulsified MCT oil are easy to pack and use on the go. Quality macronutrients will help you feel fuller longer, so you’re not grabbing subpar airport food before a long trip.
Supplements like melatonin and magnesium for healthy sleep, plus zinc and vitamin C for a strong immune system are perfect for short-term travel use.
5. Feed your microbiome
Over-sterile conditions, processed food and sugar (not to mention antibiotics and other medications) can send your microbiome out of whack. A healthy, balanced microbiome supports your mood, hormone production, and your immune system, among other things.
Supplementing with pre- and probiotics are easy ways to ensure our gut bugs are getting what they need to survive and thrive.
6. Supplements support specific goals
Everyone’s nutritional needs are different, depending on age, medical history, current medications, pre-existing conditions, activity level, and so much more. Here are just a few reasons you might considering supplementing, even if you eat a whole foods diet:
- You’re an athlete. Athletes will typically need more protein and stress-reducing nutrients like B vitamins to support lengthy or intense workouts.
- You suffer from autoimmune (or other) disease. People with autoimmune (and other) disease may also suffer from impaired digestion and hormone imbalance. Both of which can make it tough to absorb and use nutrients from food. Certain supplements can not only improve digestion, but also help you build nutrient stores.
- You have weight loss (or gain) goals. Boosting protein and fat can help you stay fuller longer, resulting in weight loss. On the flip side, you can use a high-quality whey protein to help bulk muscles as you increase your training.
- You want a better brain. Stress and poor food choices throughout the day can wreak havoc on your brain function. And certain nutrients (think: omega-3 fatty acids!) can keep your brain young as you age. Adaptogenic herbs like cordyceps can help curb stress and increase mental clarity.
The term “supplement” may bring images of tiny white bottles and piles of pills and capsules, but supplementing shouldn’t be so separate from the food we eat!
No supplement can take the place of the complex inner workings of food-based nutrients and that’s why Natural Force supplements are whole-foods based. That means you’re getting nutrients from whole foods with minimal processing in a form your body can easily process.
For example, our Collagen Peptides are simply dehydrated grass-fed bovine tissue – that’s it! And our Organic Turmeric Bone Broth Protein is just that: dehydrated organic beef bone broth protein and organic turmeric root powder. No synthetics, no chemicals. Ever.
Our bodies know what to do with real food so that’s why you’ll only ever see simple, earth-grown ingredients in Natural Force products. Sure, you could call our products supplements, but at the end of the day, you’re giving your body a nutrient dense, whole food source – just in a more convenient form!
The truth is, these days you need both: whole, organic foods and targeted nutrient supplementation. And at Natural Force, we may sell supplements, but our philosophy will always be: real food first, supplements second.
In fact, whole-foods derived supplements are the perfect solution instead of adding a ton of synthetic tablets to your daily routine. If you’re on the fence about supplements, here are a few places to start:
- Collagen Peptides for healthy joints and younger-looking skin.
- Organic Whey to supplement your protein intake.
- 100% coconut oil-derived MCT oil for brain-boosting fats that won’t make you fat.
- Organic Bone Broth Protein for gut-healing amino acids.
Many whole foods-based supplements mix easily into soups, smoothies, and even baked goods. Here’s a couple ways to use supplements seamlessly:
- Add bioavailable protein from organic whey, collagen, bone broth, nuts, and seeds to your daily smoothie.
- Add targeted gut-healing, joint-strengthening amino acids from collagen or organic bone broth powder to soups, stews, or smoothies.
- Healthy fats from coconut-derived MCTs help your body assimilate fat-soluble vitamins and balance your hormones. Add MCTs to your morning coffee or tea and drizzle over meats and veggies.
- It’s tough to get your greens every day, but the phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals you get from vegetables are no joke! Try a high-quality veggie powder as a drink or added to your smoothie for a kick of precious nutrition.
- Consult your Naturopathic or Functional Medicine doctor for targeted nutrient blends that are made specifically for your body’s needs. Compounding pharmacies can blend nutrients into one or two pills so you’re not taking supplements by the handful.
See how you feel after a few weeks. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to incorporate these supplements into your diet. Track your energy and digestive function to really notice the difference!
Do you already use supplements? We’d love to hear which ones you can’t live without in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted March 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Also published on Medium.