"What do you think about this supplement?"

"What do you think about this supplement?"

In the clinic, I get asked this question multiple times in a day. Usually, my answer is "I don't know", or "I have to research".

The reason is because I haven't taken any supplements for the good part of 20 years, and I don't know much about them. There was a while there where I was working out very intensely, and I did take a few. I thought they could help with muscle recovery. However, it has been more than a year since I've even taken those.

I have thought very carefully over the years about what I would really want out of vitamins or supplements. Am I trying to fill in any gaps of nutrition that may be deficient in the food I cook? Not really. Every since I've have learned what it is to seek out and prepare real food, I have decided not to get distracted about what vitamin I may need to supplement that may be "deficient" - I just focus on foods that have a lot of vitamins, like fermented foods.

I also started to wonder, how long would I need to take a certain vitamin? For a month? For a year? Decades? Am I going to be taking these forever? The prospect of spending what could be hundreds or thousands of dollars a year to a company that will supposedly ensure I am adequately "supplemented" seemed silly.

But even more problematic than that, is that the supplement industry as a whole is opaque about what goes into their pills. So, even if you did believe you were getting something you were missing, it may not be there in the quantities as advertised by them, or at all.

A 90-year-old patient of mine asked if some "liver health pills" were a good option. They were going to cost her more than $100 a month. I told her, I simply think it is a scam, and she should avoid them. With a budget or 100 extra dollars a month she can buy top shelf olive oil, or farmer's market meat and vegetables. She can support a local economy, instead of a large corporation. She can be more environmentally conscious, because she is not buying stuff in plastic bottles. She can keep the traditions of cooking alive.

Overall, I don't think there is any harm in taking supplements, other than to your wallet. But these days, I definitely reject the premise that they are a safeguard for poor eating. I definitely won't pretend flintstones will patch up any deficiencies my daughter will get from the food we prepare. I will just double down on exposing her to a variety of colors, flavors, and textures of food, like when I blew her away with my homemade yogurt

Let me know what you make of all this, email me any time at charles at imonlyeating.com Some of my patients are taken aback by my attitude, but others find the perspective welcoming.