You’re staring down the overly crowded supplement aisle at your local pharmacy. You’re trying to figure out your supplement routine, but there are too many options and not enough time to read through everything. Or even worse, you get caught in the Google rabbit hole of endless information. There has to be a better way.
Think like a dietitian. They’re experts in the field of food and nutrition.
- They understand that to find the perfect supplement routine, you have to know exactly what’s going on inside your body.
- They recognize that even with the best intentions and resources, it can be impossible to get adequate amounts of all nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, through food alone. For example, 94% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D since it’s found in so few foods. This means that even those following extremely balanced diets can still benefit from an additional nutrient boost.
A supplement routine can help to fill these gaps
You don’t need to run to the store to purchase one of everything in the supplement aisle — the intention of supplements is to elevate and support your current diet. Just as too few vitamins and minerals can affect your health, too much of a good thing can be just as harmful.
So how do you figure out what and how much to supplement? Here’s a 4-step plan our dietitians use — and you can too — to find the perfect supplement routine.
1. What you need
Every body has different needs. The most common factors that dietitians consider when determining this are your biological sex, age, and pregnancy/lactation status. But many other factors exist that should be accounted for, including weight, dietary restrictions, lifestyle factors, health and medical conditions, and location.
If you’re following a vegan or vegetarian diet, for example, you’re going to have different vitamin B12 needs compared to people who regularly consume animal products. Certain medical conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome or diabetes, can impact your nutrient absorption and lead to higher nutrient requirements.
2. What you’re getting
Knowledge and awareness is power. You have to know what your current nutrient intake looks like before adding more to the mix.
How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you routinely eat each day? What about foods high in magnesium and selenium?
If you don’t know the answers to these types of questions, that’s okay. Tracking your food intake for a few days can help you see your typical diet. You can then put your food log into a food tracking system, which will display your approximate average nutrient intake. Or you can make an educated guess on how much you’re getting.
3. What your body says
Now it’s time to figure out how your body is actually responding to your diet, lifestyle, and nutrient needs.
There are a few ways to measure your nutrient status (aka whether you’re in the optimal, normal, or deficient range).
- Lifestyle and health-based questionnaires help you to make educated guesses.
- DNA tests tell you how your body may potentially respond to certain nutrients.
- Blood tests show you what’s actually going on in your body right now.
Blood tests are the gold standard — the most accurate way to assess your nutrient status by showing you your actual blood nutrient levels. This is a dietitian’s first choice and can be done through a doctor, a laboratory, or even on your own through Baze.
4. Time to supplement
Now you should have all the answers you need! You know, how much of each nutrient you need, how much of each nutrient you’re getting from your diet, on average, and how this is playing out in your body. It’s time to put all the pieces together.
For example, if you don’t normally eat fatty fish or nuts and seeds, you’re not going to get enough Omega-3 fatty acids through your diet. However, you know that your body needs at least 1.1 grams per day and that your blood work shows your blood levels for these fatty acids are low. So a high-quality Omega-3 supplement would be a great addition to your daily regimen.
There may be an easier way
Sound complicated? It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Fortunately, supplement companies are turning towards personalization because a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work.
Baze uses the gold standard approach. We measure your blood levels to determine your nutrient status. Then we send you monthly supplement packs tailored to your exact needs. This is a radically different approach than other companies, who use health and lifestyle questionnaires to make educated guesses about what you might need.
Find your perfect supplement routine — sans the guesswork and confusion!
Wallace, T. C., McBurney, M., & Fulgoni, V. L. (2014). Multivitamin/Mineral Supplement Contribution to Micronutrient Intakes in the United States, 2007–2010. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 33(2), 94–102. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2013.846806