4

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Food versus supplements: a blurry line?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 23, 2011 at 5:42 PM

What counts as a supplement? Depending on the answer, I either take very few supplements, or very many.

I occasionally take Natural Calm, a magnesium supplement. I'm fairly certain that counts as a supplement, so that's at least one. My whey protein powder is a supplement as well, so that's two. But I'm not sure about the rest of what I take.

If I sprinkle some cayenne powder in my eggs, that's a food, right? Well, what if I take that same cayenne powder in capsules for the sake of convenience? Is it still a food, or does the act of putting it in a capsule transmute it into a supplement? How about other herbs or spices?

Here are the herbs and spices I take in capsule form:

Cayenne, Fenugreek, Cinnamon, Ginseng, Maca, Milk thistle, Curcumin (turmeric), Nettle root.

(I used to also take a garlic supplement as a tablet, but now I just eat a clove of garlic with a teaspoon of honey every few days.)

If I eat sauteed liver, that's definitely a food. But what if I take freeze-dried liver powder? Does the fact that it's powdered automatically make it a supplement? How about other freeze-dried organs and glands? They're part of my attempt to eat nose-to-tail, and they're all from whole foods ??? just processed a certain way to make them more convenient. (No different, really, from beef jerky in that respect.)

I also take a master tonic that I make out of apple cider vinegar, fresh hot peppers, fresh garlic, fresh horseradish, fresh onions, and fresh ginger. I take it to boost general immunity. Is that a food or a supplement?

How about coconut oil? Or cod liver oil? They're not whole foods since they're just from part of the original source ??? but you could say the same about a chicken breast (as opposed to the whole chicken). Is coconut oil a food or a supplement?

In addition to coconut oil and cod liver oil, here are the others I'm unsure about:

Green Phyto Foods, Nutritional yeast, Swedish bitters, Bee pollen, Azomite clay (minerals).

So how many supplements would you say I take?

None of them are synthetic. None of them are especially isolated from their whole-food sources (although they are concentrated). But they're all different-in-kind, I think, from an apple or a rib eye. Are they foods or supplements?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 04, 2012
at 04:20 AM

I like your approach with this. When I get on a rant about supplements, I'm talking about III and I haven no strong quarrel/concerns about I and II so that puts it in perspective for me.

E639bc85fd42430285596434a6515ad5

(2226)

on August 24, 2011
at 05:33 PM

Yes: http://www.nowfoods.com/Products/ProductsAlphabetically/M003826.htm

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on August 23, 2011
at 11:59 PM

Seriously, people sell freeze dried liver powder now?

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2 Answers

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67460907f9d818f56e1ef4c846317386

on August 23, 2011
at 06:01 PM

Well if we are getting technical the word 'supplement' doesn't mean to take a pill containing industrially isolated nutrients. It simply means to add something in an attempt to impprove what you've all ready got. In that context, anything you ad in with the intent of improving your diet and nutrition is supplementation.

As well as the classic "supplements" of vitamin D3, magnesium, kelp tablets and acerola berry I also supplement with grass fed butter, coconut oil and and lots of vegetables and organ meats. If you look at it like that, supplementation is the bulk of what we do here :D.

3
A0f2f0f632d42215944a798486bddde1

(1377)

on February 04, 2012
at 02:52 AM

Great question; I've been doing a lot of looking into superfoods and natural supplements lately and I've thought a lot of the same things. I used to be a whole food guy but then WAPF sold me on cod liver oil, and it's a slippery slope from there ;)

For me the issue isn't with the nomenclature, it's just about getting as much nutrition as possible while consuming as little junk as possible. I avoid synthetic vitamins & minerals and most supplements in pill or capsule form; instead I look for single-ingredient, minimally processed foods in powder form. Here are my three tiers of "supplements," from best to worst:

I - Whole Food Supplements

See: Liver, Oysters, Brazil Nuts, Cacao Nibs, Acerola Cherries, Cinnamon, Ginger, Turmeric

Definition: A food with exceptional vitamin/mineral density that can be consumed raw and unprocessed. Typically paleo and eaten as part of a meal rather than taken separately as a supplement.

II - Food Supplements

See: Cod Liver Oil, Bee Pollen, Apple Cider Vinegar, Blackstrap Molasses, Brewer's Yeast, Spirulina Powder, Acerola Cherry Powder

Definition: A natural ingredient taken for specific nutrients/health benefits that may undergo minimal processing (fermenting, drying, powdering). Oftentimes neolithic but generally has a long history of use; usually taken as a supplement and not considered a food.

III - Synthetic Supplements

See: Things in white plastic bottles

Definition: A pill or capsule produced in a laboratory that is usually composed of isolated synthesized nutrients and fillers. Very modern; invented only in the past century, and benefits of supplementation are not clearly proven.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 04, 2012
at 04:20 AM

I like your approach with this. When I get on a rant about supplements, I'm talking about III and I haven no strong quarrel/concerns about I and II so that puts it in perspective for me.

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