It’s not what you think.

Remember the last time you took an antibiotic? You had an infection of some kind—perhaps a UTI, an ear infection, or bacterial pneumonia. You took the prescribed drug for 5 to 10 days and hopefully, were cured after that. But did you know the same cannot be expected of nutritional supplements?

Unlike antibiotics, nutritional supplements only benefit you while you’re taking them. Their benefits are lost in varying degrees of rapidity after you cease supplementation.

Unfortunately, regular replenishment through diet or supplementation must occur to maintain health. After all, the body has no capacity to store the water-soluble nutrients, like the B vitamins and vitamin C, for more than a few hours. Whatever is not used is excreted in the urine, which is why they need frequent, daily replenishment. So, if you are feeling more energetic since starting a B complex formula, it makes sense to keep taking it.

Here’s another example: If you are taking supplementary enzymes with meals to assist in the digestion of your food, I have news for you. If you skip your suppertime dose, your lunch time dose won’t help you with that. If you decide to take the enzymes with each meal, and have noticed rapid improvement in your comfort level after meals, that’s a sign that you would benefit from continuation with that regime. It’s NOT a sign that you no longer need them!

Still not convinced? Here’s an example of what I mean: I wear prescription eyeglasses to correct my vision. If I remove my glasses, does my vision remain perfect? Of course not. To receive the benefits my glasses give me, I must wear them—all the time—without the expectation that one day soon I won’t require them. The same goes for most nutritional supplementation.

It is true that food sources of nutrients can be used to ‘wean off’ nutritional supplements, such as in the case of iron. If an individual decides to eat beef liver several times weekly in place of their iron pills, then they will likely maintain their iron stores as long as they maintain their dietary intake of iron (assuming good digestion).

Also worth noting is that some supplements do have benefits beyond the last dose. For example, the strains of probiotics found in products formulated to support digestive health are known to adhere to the gut wall and replicate there for up to 3 weeks after you last ingested them.

Remember, you can only correct nutritional deficiencies and their symptoms by consuming that nutrient. No nutrient can do the job of another–nor can a synthetic chemical do it, either.

Nutritional supplementation is not a temporary fix—it’s one an individual needs to commit to and understand that to maintain any benefits obtained by such a regime, the regime must be continued. Having said this, always check in with your nutritionist or prescribing practitioner to keep your supplement dosages are still right for you. Don’t have a nutritionist? Contact me. Still not convinced that nutritional supplementation is necessary in addition to a ‘healthy’ diet? Read this. And remember—the vast majority of DRUGS only work if you keep taking them, too.

By Andrea

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