Are supplements good or bad and how much should you take?; Nutritionist explains the pros and cons

Gina Paine, of Integrated Nutrition, talked to the Garberville Rotary Club last week about adding supplements to your diet. Paine has many years of experience in holistic health and a degree in nutrition from Bauman College. She offers individual nutritional counseling and education for men, women and children or presentations to groups on specific topics. If you are having health issues nutrition is a great place to start.

Paine started off by saying; "I like to see people get their nutrition from food first."

She recommended going to your health care provider and having blood work to determine what you may be lacking in your diet as far as vitamins and minerals.

Paine stressed the importance of taking supplements for a while and then changing things up a bit. Mix it up and maybe take vitamins every other day or perhaps take Sundays off completely. Our bodies become accustomed to these supplements and we tend not to assimilate them. She suggested you take half of your daily vitamin in the morning and half at night. This is one way to achieve all the benefits without urinating out what you have just taken.

The saying, "You get what you pay for," is quite appropriate when it comes to vitamins and supplements, according to Paine. She recommends you do your research and buy high quality products. She said some brands may list the contents on the label, but you may only be actually getting about 50%. Vitamins and supplements are not very well regulated by government agencies.

Paine said it is a good idea to include fish oil and vitamin D supplements in your daily regimen. Vitamin D helps you utilize calcium and phosphorus. The best way to get vitamin D is through your skin and eyes from being out in the sun. She said around 15 minutes a day of sun exposure, especially during the winter months is a good way to get what your body needs. Many of us have heard about the winter blues, which can be caused by lack of vitamin D from the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are very hard to reproduce even with special light bulbs.

The most common dosage of vitamin D supplements is 1,000 to 5,000 IU (International Units) a day. Paine said it is extremely hard to overdose on vitamin D. Kids are very susceptible to vitamin D deficiencies especially in today’s world of video games and technology. Kids are spending less and less time outdoors where they would absorb these necessary nutrients from the sun.

When it comes to the omega 3 fish oils, Paine said these are essential fatty acids that we all need and the body cannot produce them on its own. These essential fatty acids are important for brain function.

The subject of heavy metals in fish was raised. Older and bottom fish tend to have more of an accumulation of heavy metals. The darker the fat the higher the levels. Coldwater fish is the best source, such as salmon. The fattier the fish the better.

Paine said, "That gray part you see on salmon is where the heavy metals will be. You want to eat the pink and white parts.

"If you eat one four-ounce piece of salmon every other day, you don’t need to take a supplement."

Paine said if you purchase fish oil supplements check the label to see if it has been tested for heavy metals. If it doesn’t say you can call the company and ask them. As mentioned before, you get what you pay for and the cheaper brands probably have not been tested. It is also important to know that fish oil is a natural blood thinner and should not be taken before a scheduled surgery.

Another supplement we hear a lot about today is glucosamine. Paine said she is in favor of taking a glucosamine supplement.

She said, "Unfortunately, the less expensive brands from the big box stores are not testing as labeled and it’s a good idea to double up on the recommended dosage."

Paine also encouraged the possible use of probiotics. She said if you are taking antibiotics, the good bacteria along with the bad is being eradicated. Probiotics will replace the good bacteria in your gut that we all need to be healthy.

As with anything, it’s important to do your research before taking any kind of vitamin or supplement and Paine encouraged everyone to talk to their health care providers before starting on any kind of dietary program.

Oh, and she added, "Don’t forget to stay hydrated and drink lots of water."

Gina Paine can be reached at 923-2426.


Garberville Rotarian Jim Quast, left, and Garberville Rotary Club president Brian Harper, right, presented guest speaker Gina Paine with a book to be donated to the Garberville Library in her name.