When it comes to supplements, I am quite skeptical because I think that on a varied plant based diet it’s pretty easy to get all the nutrients you need. The key is to mix it up and eat a bit of everything; different types of grains, legumes, veggies, starches, fruit, nuts and seeds. I think that so called mono diets that only focus on fruit or veggie juices are bad for us because we restrict ourselves and only feed our body with the same foods.
The other problem with supplements is that the scientific community never really agreed if supplements have the same benefits as if we eat these nutrients in our foods. It’s not clear if taking vitamin C through a pill is actually absorbed in the same way than getting it for example from eating fresh oranges. That means that supplements are not truly reliable and we should be cautious if we believe we can get everything we need from pills.
I believe that the best way to go about this is getting regular blood tests done in order to see if you are lacking anything. If you really need a certain nutrient quickly, I believe that supplements are ok to bridge the gap but you should truly look at your diet and understand where you can make changes in order to get the lacking nutrients naturally.
Now there are some exceptions to this such as vitamin D, needed for our bone health. Vitamin D is actually a hormone and it can only be created through sun light. Now people living in the northern hemisphere do often suffer from low vitamin D levels because for a big part of the year we don’t get much sun. Sun can also be dangerous as we all know and we should protect our skin as much as possible so often taking vitamin D is more efficient and safer than relying on the sun. The other exception is vitamin B12 – the only other supplement that I take. But B12 deserves a post by itself so stay tuned for next week’s health piece! In the meantime, evaluate your plant based diet and make sure you mix it up so your body gets all the macro and micronutrients it needs.