What Supplements Do You Take?

Clients and students often ask me what type of vitamin and mineral supplements I take.

It’s simple… I don’t take any.

But, I used to take a lot!

Before taking charge of my health, I spent thousands of dollars buying vitamin and mineral supplements to help make up for my dietary deficiencies and lack of knowledge about good nutrition.

The supplement industry is a BIG industry and is making millions (probably more like billions) of dollars annually, catering to folks like you and me who are concerned about health.  I used to believe supplementation could help heal my ailments and make up for my lack of proper nourishment and/or understanding of food.

Boy, was I mistaken!

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, antioxidant vitamins increased a person’s risk of dying by up to 16 percent.  The University of Washington found that vitamin E elevates lung cancer risk, and researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that men who took more than one multivitamin daily had higher rates of prostate cancer.[1]

According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, below is a list of popular supplements and their toxic effects:[2]

Vitamin A Hepatoxicity (liver damage), increased risk of hip fracture
Beta carotene Increased risk of lung cancer, yellowing of skin, diarrhea, arthralgias (arthritis)
Vitamin C Diarrhea, gastric upset
Vitamin D Calcification of the soft tissue
Vitamin E Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, blurred vision
Vitamin B6 Sensory neuropathy, ataxia (lack of coordination and muscle movements)
Vitamin B3 Vasodilation, gastrointestinal upset, hyperglycemia

These are just a few of the more common supplements and their toxic side effects when taken in excess.

Anything taken excessively it going to accumulate and be problematic for the body.

I encourage my clients to use supplements as exactly that… a supplement to an already healthy and balanced diet. Meaning, they rely on food first, and then supplement when they feel they need it.

There are many delicious ways to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

For example Mussels contain Vitamin B12, Zinc, Selenium, Omega 3’s, and they are delicious. And, sweet potatoes are rich in Beta Carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E.

So, the question you need to ask yourself is, “Would I rather eat a handful of hard coated supplements, or enjoy something delicious?”

Steamed Mussels with Mirin & Baked Sweet Potato Fries

[1] http://www.rd.com/living-healthy/are-vitamins-really-that-good-for-you-/article46647.html

[2] http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/169/1/47/T127


  • rita

    Andrea, I couldn’t disagree with you more! I’ ve been studying nutrition for over 30 years and I would NEVER auote the AMA about vitamins (they are in bed with big Pharma). All of the studies proving vitamins were harmful, used poor quality vitamins and yes, poor quality vitamins can be very harmful but i feel very strongly that we need vitamins as our soil is so depleated and fruits and veggies sometimes travel 1/2 way around the world and therefore lose many of their nutrients. On top of that we have most people eating fast foods and pre packaged foods which not only have no nutrients, they also have many very harmful things such as high fructose corn syrup and trans fats. I feel that everyone should take at least a high quality multi vit and min. So many of us are deficient in some very important nutrients. I appreciate you and just wanted to give you ;my point of view.

    • Andrea Beaman

      I agree that much of the conventionally processed food is grown in depleted soil that hasn’t been properly cared for by good earth-tenders (farmers). I teach my students and clients to eat locally sourced, naturally raised food from farmer’s they know (CSA’s, farmer’s markets, etc.). I commend the farmer’s and grower’s that are using sustainable methods, composting, using traditional fertilizers and rotating crops to support and nourish the soil, rather than deplete it. From my perspective, all the vitamins and minerals we need are provided for us naturally. I appreciate your point of view – thanks for sharing.

      • Eva

        Thanks for this info! I’ve always felt guilty about not doing a lot of supplements, then experimented with various types, then reducing/eliminating and felt no difference (as long as I was eating well). What are your thoughts on working with clients who don’t get enough of the right foods because of their lifestyle? I know the goal is to get them to a better level, but is there a place for supplementation in that case? Thanks in advance – you are my role model!

        • Funny about your clients that don’t get enough of the right foods because of their lifestyle. That means they need to work on improving their lifestyle! Keep up the great work!

  • Devona

    @rita: re: soil depletion, I completely concur that our soils are direly depleted. this is why it is very important to buy foods from farmers that have environmentally sustainable production practices that are soil enhancing. these foods are more nutrient dense and they are protecting our environment.

  • Samara Zitnik

    Andrea, I love your great energy and contribution to spreading your knowledge about health. I love IIN and learned a lot there to add to my many years of interest & study of nutrition and I really disagree with you on this issue. In my Health Coaching practice I recommend to ALL my clients to take high quality supplements ( I use pharmaceutical grade, even though I hate big pharma).. I always recommend 1.) Fish or Krill Oil or equivalent 2.) broad spectrum probiotics and 3.) D3.

  • Pattigo

    @Rita, if our soil is so depleted which I agree, how are they making those highly efficient multi vitamins? A supplement are isolates of the whole food. Our body know what to do with the whole food and breaks it down hundreds of ways to use every part of it. A supplement is an isolate chemically separated from the whole food and processed into a pill. I don’t know about you, but when I took isolates my urine was bright yellow. Now that I’m on a whe food diet, my urine is clear. I am sailing through menopause with minimal symptoms, my health is amazing, and at 46 I look forward to a long and healthy life. Anyone out there that wants to join my journey, I have the easiest way to get concentrated whole food quick and ready to go with modern day convenience. Message me if interested to know more.

  • Andrea, You are awesome, motivational, beautiful and such an inspiration to every IIN student and grad. Thank you for putting this out there, it is (obviously) a very provocative subject.
    I agree completely with Samara, there are some very basic nutrients people just are not getting from food and that can cause devastating mental and physical effects by not having them. While supplementation may not be the ideal, lack of omega 3’s, low Vit D and inadequate or bad bugs in the gut are so prevalent that it makes sense to me to mention them to clients.
    Thanks again for bringing up this great topic, I will follow this thread with interest.

  • Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins
    by Dr Mark Hyman

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  • I actually feel illegal when I take vitamins. But as I live in london and in 6 months of cold dark weather I find it hard not to take any. I know I must emigrate to warmer climes where I can grow my own food and control my nutrient in take. I just came back from a month in brazil where I took no supps. Now back in uk I took a handful and feel yucky….. This must stop! Solar are laughing I must have spent $$$$. There is a place for supps for people who live fast and don’t eat well, but really they need to examine their lifestyle. Get that in balance and the isn’t need for supps. Thanks Andrea for talking common sense.

  • Ha ha typo… I meant I actually feel iller when I take supps, but illegal is also true lol

    • Funny – yes, I got the gist of it. Love that you connected feeling “yucky” after eating a handful of supplements. When I used to take supplements they used to make me nauseous. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great post. I am a big advocate of taking a daily supplement in addition to focusing on a great diet. One is not enough. I take a daily Magnesium Supplement and stock my diet full of Foods High in Magnesium. The results have been outstanding for me. I believe the same approach would work well for any mineral you are seeking.

  • Heather McCoy

    Andrea what are your thoughts on adaptogens? I’ve been taking Rhodiola for 2 months and have noticed a HUGE and positive difference in my reaction to stress and anxiety. I’ve been doing a lot of other mind/body work in addition and the combo is working great….unless I should stop 🙂

  • DeeDee

    My 11 year old son does Added Attention by Buried Treasure it is loaded with different things like phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, B vitamins, minerals and herbs. All of that’s in it calms his ADHD and his grades have gone from 10% to 90%. He eats on my special thyroid diet things like bone stock, carrot puree and turkey chili- that was today’s food. Still without the liquid vitamin he’s really in trouble even kinda out of it when I’ve stopped giving it to him. I just wonder about the people that seem really depleted like my son. I love the recipes you have provided Andrea and it’s helped him out a lot! He just needs that extra boost.