As a vegan I am often asked if I supplement my diet with vitamins. During the last visit with my gynecologist, she was pressing me to take fish oil supplements so that if I got pregnant, I would have enough Omega-3 in my system for healthy fetal development. I explained that I had 2 tablespoons of flax meal every morning in my breakfast smoothie. She argued with me about it and insisted that I take a fish oil supplement and even wrote up a prescription for me. It really bothered me how insistent she became.
While I agree that Omega-3 is important for healthy fetal development, why would I take a pill when I can find a better, more reliable plant based source in 2 Tablespoons of flax meal added to my morning smoothies? At least the flax meal is guaranteed to be food grade safe and comply with FDA regulations. The fish oil capsule is not. In the documentary below, one lab was opening up fish oil tablets and finding that many of them were rancid. Because the supplement industry is in no way regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, companies are not required to ensure that supplements like fish oil capsules are food grade safe, or even that they contain the same ingredients listed on the bottle.
Even basic vitamin supplements are not regulated AT ALL and may or may not contain the same ingredients listed on the bottle in the dosage that is claimed. The Nova documentary below investigated independent lab testings of popular vitamins and supplements and found that around 75% of them contained ingredients not listed on the bottle and most herbal supplements did not contain ANY of the ingredient claimed to be listed. A children’s hospital, concerned with the dosage of vitamins they were administering to premature babies, found that many of the vitamins they tested were sometimes double the dosage that was claimed on the bottle.
After watching this documentary, I am convinced that the saying “let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” is so completely true. If I eat a healthy diet with all the vitamins and minerals needed by the body, and get some sun for vitamin D, there is no need to supplement. And it actually sounds like a waste of money to buy vitamins, as well as a health risk. What is listed on the bottle is not guaranteed to be what you put in your mouth. And worst of all, the supplement industry wants to keep it that way.
A bonus… DHA supplementation
Should women trying to get pregnant and pregnant women take DHA supplements?