Yoga Talk: Q and A and Conversations around Vitamins…

Register for Upcoming Classes HERE, including this weekend’s Ayurveda and Digestion.

Do we take a vitamin or not? Are they worth taking? Do they do anything? If we eat a healthy diet, do we need them? If we eat a “meh” diet will they make up for it?

I don’t usually talk about vitamin supplements. I try to stick within the scope of Ayurveda herbal supports (there will be some Ayurvedic suggestions below). If you’re thinking about vitamins, this post is simply here to give you something to think about as you make your own choices. It is not intended to give any all around or for everyone advice.

One of the first things to think about when we talk about vitamins is why would you take them? What is your goal? Are you deficient in something. For example: many of us in NE are deficient in D during the winter. Do you have something going on that could be supported by a supplement? For example: Calcium may be a good support for bone and teeth health or vitamin C can be good for supporting heart health. What is your Goal in taking a vitamin? If you are not deficient or depleted, a supplement may be redundant or even harmful.

Another thing to think about is how many supplements are you taking and why? If you have a handful of supplements, it might be a good time to assess. Clean the slate and begin anew. Start with taking away any supplements you can’t remember why you are taking and go from there. Once we start taking more than three supplements/vitamins, we might be overloading the system with “too much”. We’re going to talk about this “too much” in this Saturday’s Ayurveda and Digestion class. This idea that you may be taking the best supplements in the world, or eating the best diet in the world, but if your body is overloaded and can’t digest it, you may be doing more harm than good.

This is one of the reasons why Ayurveda Wellness begins in the digestive system. We have to be able to digest what we’re taking in for it to do any good. We’ll be diving into this on Saturday: you are what you digest!! And what becomes of the stuff you can’t digest? Hmm?

Back to supplements. We can get trapped by the “more is better” mentality, when usually less is more. Many of our vitamins and supplements can support more than one thing, so by choosing wisely we can often work with the entire body system instead of many single herbs for each individual bodily system. Choosing wisely helps us alleviate the “more is better” mentality and “overload” which can clog and overwhelm the system.

A daily vitamin might not be a bad thing in an environment where our food is often lacking. You may choose to take a multivitamin in the winter when we’re naturally more depleted. Fall is a great time to assess for winter needs and spring is a nice time to reassess for summer needs (you can learn more about this is the Ayurvedic Routines class recording from October). You may want a multivitamin for extra support if you know you are prone to depletion and stress or struggle to optimally digest food.

A good D vitamin can be nice for the winter months. It’s also nice to take supplements that are as close to food as possible. Supplements from food also have the synergistic vitamins and minerals that support uptake of the main supplement that you are supplementing. Often when we take an isolated supplement, it doesn’t have the support with it for uptake (this was a big deal when people were taking turmeric alone as a healthy supplement, but without some form of agni booster (we talk about this in Saturday’s class) like black pepper our body can’t actually use the turmeric. Of note: a great source of food grade D is found in cod liver oil and a really nice brand is Green Pastures (I do not get any kickback from Green Pastures).

If you are taking a single B vitamin, you will want to consider a B Complex to support the all around support of B’s needed in the body. Vegans may need extra B12 for health and an extra B Complex will help keep all the B’s from becoming overly imbalanced.

Final Notes: If you feel you need a supplement, choose wisely. Know your goals and why’s. More is NOT better. Less of a high quality supplement is likely to be better than more of a cheap quality. Remember that it’s a supplement, not its own food. For safety, keep in mind that water soluble vitamins are less likely to accumulate in the body, while fat soluble vitamins may accumulate and become a problem.

Some really nice daily Ayurvedic supports include:

Moringa, which is rich in natural minerals and vitamins. If you are a morning Takra drinker, you can add to your Takra.

Amla is great as an immune boost and full of vitamin C. It comes in a nice Amla Candy (made with honey) or is the main ingredient in Chywanprash.

Triphala is a good daily supplement. So much so it has its own blog post.

PS: After a confusing visit to the vitamin aisle and finding every vitamin in gummy form. Most favorite: gummy bear multivitamins for “women over 40”. I looked it up to find out if gummies made uptake of vitamins more efficient. It does NOT. Gummy vitamins are not better than regular vitamins!! They are made into gummies to make them easier to take, but by doing so they lose some (to a lot) of their supplemental kick and are full of extra gunky stuff “to make them taste good” (like sugar and food colorings and binding agents). Just a thought: if you are unable to swallow a supplement, a daily vitamin might be a good way to learn. Someday, you may need to swallow a giant horse pill medicine and that’s not the time to learn how.

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