The Daily Beet

27 Aug Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: Should You Take Supplements?

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Q.Do you recommend a multi-vitamin or other supplements?

There is no single answer to this question and so I look at this from several perspectives.

1) My position on ALL supplements is that I do not recommend:

-the general and/or random use of any supplement

-supplements without informed consent. (All supplements have some risk)

-supplementation without a clearly established need that has been established in the context of a professional evaluation from a competent healthcare professional. All treatment is predicated upon proper diagnosis.

-supplementation that does not include the appropriate and continuing professional monitoring with a competent healthcare professional

-any supplement that is sold through an MLM company or from the healthcare professional recommending them.

2) In regard to general nutrition, I recommend the following:

-Undergo a complete nutritional evaluation of your diet to see if there are any nutrients that may be considered low.

-If there are any nutrients considered low, identify the healthiest foods that are highest in nutrient density for those nutrients and then adjust your diet to include more of these foods in your diet.

-Once done, re-evaluate your diet to make sure it is nutritionally adequate.

-You can do this with the help of a nutrition professional or you can do this yourself with one of the nutrition program available. My personal recommendation for this is the CRON-O-Meter, which is a free program and the nutrient search tool available at www.nutritiondata.com.

3)For those who have chosen to follow a diet completely free of all animal products, they have created a “need” for Vitamin B12 and so in this situation, a reliable source of Vitamin B12 is required and a supplement might be the way to fill that need.

4)In regard to the current focus on Vitamin D, if you are concerned or in the “at risk” category:

-Get yourself tested

-If you are deficient, then you need to speak with your healthcare adviser about how to raise your levels. You have several choices including sunshine, artificial UV light, supplements, prescription or a combination.

-Choose the option or combination of options you are most comfortable with and in 3 months, retest.

-If your numbers are now normal, you have the same options to choose from on how you will maintain your levels.

-If your numbers are still low, continue for 3 more months and then once again, re-evaluate your levels.

-The following groups are considered, “At risk”
– Breastfed infants
– Older adults
– People with limited sun exposure
– People with dark skin
– People with fat malabsorption
– People who are obese or who have undergone gastric bypass surgery

5)Lastly, in regard to the therapeutic use of supplements to treat specific health and medical conditions, yes, it is true that in some specific situations for some specific diseases, supplements may play a beneficial role. However, to see if this situation may apply specifically to you, please see my recommendations in point 1 above. Remember, all treatment is predicated upon proper diagnosis.

In Health,

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Jeff Novick
Jeff Novick

Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN is truly a unique dietitian and nutritionist. With over 24 years of experience in nutrition, health, fitness and natural living, he offers expert health advice distilled into powerful, easy-to-understand language on a variety of current topics.Novick’s insightful and humorous approach to nutrition and health has helped thousands worldwide make the transition to healthy living. He holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana State University in nutrition, with a minor in exercise science.Novick serves as Vice President for Executive Health Exams International and lectures at the McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California and at the Engine 2 Immersion program in Austin, Texas. He is also the Director of Nutrition for the Meals for Health program, which is helping empower low-income families to achieve optimal health.For almost a decade, Novick served as the Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Center in Aventura, Florida, and as Vice President of the Board of the Directors for the National Health Association (NHA). He also served as the Director of Health Education for the NHA and as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Health Sciences for Kaplan University.Novick has taught nutrition classes at Indiana State University, Indiana University Medical School, the University of Miami Medical School and the Florida Academy of Family Physicians. He regularly lectures at medical conferences across the country. While in Indiana, he created and taught the Nutrition Education Initiative, a preventive medicine curriculum for medical doctors, residents and medical students. In recognition of this groundbreaking project, Indiana’s governor awarded Novick the Indiana State Public Health Excellence in Health Science Award and Indiana State University awarded him the Graduate-of-the-Last-Decade Award.He has been interviewed by Newsday, Parade, Men’s Health, Shape, Women’s World and has appeared on Fox News, Discovery Health, the Today Show and other media outlets nationwide. He recently appeared in the documentary Processed People and the movie Fatboy, which won the Best Documentary award at the Fort Lauderdale and Queens Film Festivals.

  • Lynnette
    Posted at 19:16h, 27 August

    Great post and great advice, as always.
    What about iron? At my last visit my bloodwork showed low iron and my Dr put me on an iron supplement. I have a recheck in 3 months.
    From what I’ve read iron isn’t as easily “fixed” by just adjusting foods in either plant based or standard diets.

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