May 252012

supplement bottles with cut oranges

There are as many supplements out there as there are ‘gurus’ to sell them. So called superfoods are widely available and some are convinced that they’re worth no less than the fountain of youth. But like all other commodities, supplements come at a price, oftentimes quite a high one! Are they worth it? Do we need supplements if we are eating a raw or whole foods diet?


Every body is different.

The answer is, not so surprisingly, it depends. Our bodies require certain vitamins and minerals to function. But most of us don’t want to just get by, we want to thrive, and that requires even more resources. Whether or not you need to supplement your diet with pills, powders and patches depends largely on the type of food you are eating. For best results, eat a wide variety of foods. You’ll get a larger span of nutrition, and are less likely to require supplements. There are stories of people who thrive without supplements, and some people who swear by them. Since every body is different, what you need is also a personal preference, and it won’t be the same for everybody. Don’t be sold on a supplement just because your friend says it’s great.rainbow of fruits and vegetables

Separate sales people from wise people.

The biggest thing to watch out for, is salesmen who call themselves gurus! Don’t be fooled. If someone (even someone trusted in the natural health field) says you need this or that supplement, and (surprise surprise) they just so happen to sell their own brand of it, use caution. Unfortunately not everyone moves into the health field for the common good, and many do it for personal profit. If someone tells you that their life and health turned around because of a specific supplement, and they are now trying to sell it to you, be wary! Do your own research. Make sure you are looking in places that aren’t associated with the supplement itself. You will only get good reviews on the sales pages. Always look at every single ingredient, and find out where it is coming from, and how it is processed.

Hard to find nutrients.

That being said, there are some nutrients that are tough to find on a raw vegan diet. The most common one is vitamin B12. This remains a highly controversial topic, and you will find people on all ends of the spectrum. There are those who supplement and are healthy, or who supplement and are sick. Also there are those who don’t supplement and are thriving, or not supplementing and sick. When it comes to nutrition and research, it’s close to impossible to do a controlled study because there are too many variables. We may never understand it completely. Don’t let this worry you. Instead, try eating foods that are known to have useable B12, like nutritional yeast for example. The most important thing to do is listen to your body, if you find yourself feeling off or have some of the symptoms of low B12, see your health expert to do some tests.  Remember B12 levels are low for most of the population, whether they eat meat or not. Do not use B12 as an excuse to eat meat.

Wheat grass juice

So what supplements are the best?

If you do decide to take supplements, or you’ve seen a natural doctor and know you are lacking somewhere, you’ll want to balance out your body. The best supplement you can ever take is in the form of freshly pressed organic fruit and vegetable juices. They are absolutely loaded with nutrients, vitamins and minerals in the most available form for your body. You will feel amazing after drinking them. Be aware that every required nutrient is available in food form. Do some research, if you are low in iron, eat plenty of iron rich foods. Iron tablets can be very damaging to the body. It might take you a bit of planning and some self control but you can adjust your diet to your body’s needs.

What about packaged supplements?

There are so many varieties and brands that I could never research them all. If you insist on taking packaged supplements, look for ones that are organic or wild crafted. Things with only whole food ingredients, no extracts or ‘derived from’, as these labels can be deceiving. Something that boasts minimal processing or ‘raw’ is also preferred. Remember these supplements are going to be expensive. Although they may be useful for a time, try to think of them as a stepping stone until you have perfected the right diet to get you these nutrients and you can give up the supplements.

The bottom line is that no one knows for sure what needs to be supplemented, because every body and every diet is different. Do what is right for you, and see your natural doctor to have your levels tested if you’re unsure. Above all, be a smart consumer when it comes to buying supplements, think and research before you buy.

I get occasional emails asking me about brands of supplements, if you have a question about your supplement, either ask in the comment section below, or send me an email through the contact page.

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  4 Responses to “Supplements on a Raw Food Diet”

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  1. What can you say about USANA chelated minerals & mega antioxidant in tablet form, i take 1 tab & 1 tab of both daily, & 100 mg of Vit B Complex w/c i buy in a pharmacy?

    • Generally I don’t believe that people need supplements. There are of course exceptions, and it’s true that in order to get the right amount of nutrients we need to be growing our own food and eating a diet very different from the SAD diet. Supplements can be an easy way to get these nutrients and minerals. My biggest deciding factor when buying supplements is how they are prepared. I don’t want anything that has been prepared in a lab, and everything should be in its whole food form. It can still be ground into a powder and capsule form, but not enriched with chemical forms of vitamins. You might like THIS article I wrote on supplements.