In case the title doesn’t make it clear, I’m going to explain why I, personally, choose to megadose a few select supplements. I’m not advocating that anyone else do this, and I’m certainly not trying to give medical advice. If you have any doubts, just consult my disclaimer in the left-hand column (under the “Important!” header). Now without further ado…
What I Supplement in Megadoses
Currently, I supplement biotin and two forms of B6 – pyridoxine and P5P – in amounts greatly exceeding the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake). I also supplement fish oil in a bit higher than recommended doses (though interestingly, this is on the advice of a doctor). In times past, I have supplemented vitamin D, niacin, calcium, and magnesium well in excess of recommended doses. Some would call this folly. After all, almost any substance can be toxic in great enough excess. Yet I have very logical reasons for the choices I have made over the course of my health journey.
The Most Obvious Reason I Megadose
First and foremost, I need to point out that the DRI is a recommendation based on preventing frank deficiency of any one nutrient. It is believed that if you consume nutrients (preferably from food) in the amount of the DRI or slightly greater, that you will not suffer any obvious or debilitating deficiencies. However, when I dug a little deeper, I really couldn’t find any solid support for the DRI amounts. There are even some (semi-reputable) sources that basically make it sound as though the DRIs are pretty much based on guesswork. Still, considering we don’t seem to have any (known) epidemics of missing nutrients in this country (and this in spite of the horrific state of the Standard American Diet (SAD)), it’s a pretty good bet that the DRI is adequate for most people.
A More Hidden Reason
Studies have shown that over time, our food is becoming less nutritious. I’m not just talking about the preponderance of “food science products” that populate the aisles of the grocery store (There’s a reason they’re usually “fortified”). I’ve long been a proponent of “shopping the perimeter,” believing that I would be getting the full nutrition of real food that way. Unfortunately, science now says I was quite mistaken.
This ain’t some tree-hugger propaganda designed to push the organic agenda, either. This comes from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Granted, the decline was only reliable for six of the 13 nutrients tested (46%), but as we all know, there are a lot more than 13 nutrients in every food. So even if “only” about half of the nutrients in food are declining, I’d say we have a problem, Houston.
Of course, scientists still haven’t settled on an explanation for this yet. Some believe it’s due to the use of chemical fertilizers. Others believe it’s a lack of sufficient crop rotation. Still others blame it on the drive to grow bigger produce faster. There’s even a camp that blames it on modern harvesting and transportation techniques, saying that the lack of ripeness at picking and amount of time spent in storage combine to deplete the nutrients. Chances are good it’s a little of all of these, as well as a few they haven’t thought of yet.
Whatever the cause(s), the underlying truth is that our food is not as nutritious as it once was. And without solid data to explain why (much less a concerted effort on the part of food producers to reverse the trend), the problem isn’t likely to go away. Ergo supplementation, at least at a basic level, seems a reasonable choice.
The Real Reason
Come back tomorrow to find out the real reason why I supplement megadoses of certain things. And no, it’s not just because it makes me feel better – although that certainly plays a role!