“Do vitamins really make a difference?”
That is the question I’m often asked when discussing supplements with my clients.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe (book a free consultation with me!), I help people make diet and lifestyle changes to better their health. Often, we discuss how supplements may complement their new habits and address any health concerns.
While some people would take 50 supplements a day to improve health and increase longevity, others are hesitant to take any at all. I try to help them find the middle ground. I work with them to meet as many of their needs through healthy foods and habits as possible, while also explaining the benefits—and sometimes necessity—of extra support from supplements.
How I Became A Believer
I wasn’t always a believer in supplements. I went into the nutrition field to help people eat better, not to teach people to take pills! In fact, not too many years ago, I had zero supplements in my own daily regimen. I ate pretty healthy, I worked out consistently, and I slept well; I thought that was enough.
Over the course of a few years, though, my health took a turn. I started to develop some odd symptoms, which accumulated so much over time that I eventually sought medical intervention. After a few frustrating years, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. The doctor prescribed me some medication and told me I’d be on it for the rest of my life.
Of course, nutrition being my profession, I embarked on the journey of curing myself with food. I saw mild improvements after various diet alterations, but still didn’t fully feel like my healthy self again. So when a friend and fellow dietitian suggested I look into a few supplements, I cautiously decided to invest.
Six months later I was feeling better than I had in years. I started poring over the research on the benefits of supplementing specific nutrients in certain populations who aren’t getting enough or need extra protection. From there, I started utilizing and recommending smart supplementation.
Sharing The Benefits Of Supplements
Not long after my health transformation, I had the opportunity to join a small team of nutritionists at The Vitamin Shoppe. Through the nutrition program, customers can sign up for a free in-person or virtual consultation with a credentialed nutritionist. In these sessions, they can discuss their health concerns and goals in detail, and we’ll recommend dietary changes and supplements that can help.
Every day, I have the pleasure of talking to people about their health. They trust me with personal information and look to me for guidance. They are looking for their own story of restoration, health, and vitality, and I am fortunate to help them write it.
In my time with The Vitamin Shoppe, I’ve seen many people better their lives by making healthy lifestyle changes and supplementing intelligently.
Why Do We Need Supplements?
Unfortunately, diet is just not enough sometimes. Since the nutrient quality of our food and soil has been depleted over time, it’s become more difficult to get all of the nutrients we need—even when eating healthy.
Plus, many people follow special diets (keto, vegan/vegetarian) that can sometimes reduce—or even eliminate—necessary nutrients.
Others have medical issues and inherited conditions that impair nutrient absorption or require higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals.
For these people, supplements can be a game-changer.
Then, there are those who have limited access to vital nutrients because of a lack of finances or available food.
For them, supplements can literally save their lives.
Spreading Health With Vitamin Angels
When I started working at The Vitamin Shoppe, I learned about an organization called Vitamin Angels. The Vitamin Shoppe and Vitamin Angels have partnered together for 12 years to help address the nutritional needs of under-served populations in the United States and around the world.
I quickly developed a passion for the mission. After all, supplements had changed my own life for the better!
And while the right supplements had drastically improved my quality of life, the prenatal vitamins and vitamin A that Vitamin Angels provides to women and children can literally make the difference between life and death.
While I have ample access to foods high in vitamin A (like eggs, salmon, carrots, and sweet potatoes), someone whose diet consists primarily of beans and rice has almost none.
Children without enough vitamin A can experience stunted growth, vision issues, and a depressed immune system—and potentially even death. Meanwhile, women without enough folate (from a variety of vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes) may give birth to children with birth defects. These women can also often lack the nutrients needed to support proper growth for their baby.
For these people, supplements are not a trend or a luxury, but an absolute necessity.
That’s why, through personal and professional experience (and a lot of research), I’ve become a believer in the power of supplements. So, when clients ask me if they really make a difference, my answer is, “Yes, they most certainly can–and they most certainly do.”