A: Two good reasons, actually. First, the Standard American Diet (i.e., SAD) is just that, … rather “sad.” As a nation we tend to eat very poorly. In fact, truth be told, it’s simply far too easy to eat badly in America today. It takes a lot of effort and discipline and INTENTION (we like that word) to eat well consistently. Unfortunately, ours is a culture that values convenience extremely highly, often at the expense of everything else, even health. We’re simply surrounded and bombarded by quick, cheap food — at restaurants, in the grocery aisle, on TV, on the internet, everywhere! Everywhere you look you find lots of quick and simple — and incredibly bad — food choices.
Secondly, even when we DO try to eat well, to make wise choices, often our food comes from nutrient-depleted, pesticide- and herbicide-laden soil. Truly nutritious, real, whole foods are harder to come by than you might first imagine.
Q: But how do I know what I really need?
A: That’s a great question. The answer is simple. Your nutritional status, your nutritional strengths and weakness, can be measured very easily and very accurately. It doesn’t have to be a guessing game. You can be a very smart consumer.
Q: There are so many products out there, how do I choose? If I’m going to do this, I want to do it right. I want to make sure I’m investing wisely.
A: Of course you do, and you’re absolutely right to be cautious. The supplement industry, with its myriad offerings, claims, and slick advertising, can be very enticing and misleading at the same time. (“Wow! That product sounds amazing! Surely I could benefit from THAT!”) While over the years we’re seeing a greater degree of regulation when it comes to quality and safety, not all manufacturers are the same. Some (a growing number, in fact) are VERY good. Others, unfortunately, are not.
Q: So how do I know whom to trust?
A: I asked that very same question several years ago when I first ventured into the study and practice of Functional Medicine, and for the past many years I’ve gone about a very intentional process of investigating that question, of weeding out the good from the bad. Encouragingly, I’m pleased to report that my list of trusted manufacturers has grown over time and continues to do so.
Whenever I encounter a new manufacturer I’m not familiar with, I reach out and contact them with three simple, very pointed questions, all related to specific aspects of manufacturing, quality, and safety. Most of the time I never hear back, but sometimes (about 10-15% of the time), I do. And in those cases, thus far at least, those who respond have had the right answers. My take-home message is simply this: Those that ARE doing it right, who DO invest in and care about quality and safety, want us to know that they are. For those that don’t respond, I simply can’t say either good or bad. I just don’t know. And because I don’t know, I can’t recommend them.
Q: Where can I get these really good, safe supplements?
A: First please know this: We have no expectation — and certainly no requirement — that our patients purchase their supplements from us. While we offer a number of supplements as a convenience to our patients, we do so simply for that reason — as a convenience. WHERE you purchase your supplements is entirely up to you. My primary concern is that those you DO purchase are both safe and of the highest quality.
Most of the supplements I recommend are those we stock here in our office. However, many of these may also be found in select higher-end health food stores and/or on-line, and we invite you to shop around and invest in your health wisely.
For our patients and clients who do choose to purchase their supplements here we automatically provide a 10% discount from the manufacturers suggested retail price across the board.
Q: Anything else?
A: One final important note: The vast majority of my supplement recommendations are based on the results of specific testing we’ve done to uncover the true “root cause” of the particular concern(s) we’re addressing. Altering this plan (by selecting “similar” alternatives, or by adding items to it, or by eliminating items from it) often results in sub-optimal or even negative outcomes. Always sensitive to cost, the recommendations I make are those I believe will not only be the most beneficial but also the most cost-effective of possible options.