Increasingly, we are becoming a nation of picky eaters–in a good way. Whether we try to avoid gluten or dairy, decrease sugar intake, or determine to embrace the new plant revolution with a vegan diet, special diets can reap big health benefits. However, because of some of the foods these diets eliminate, certain nutrients may be lacking in these special diets.
Over the past couple of decades, supplement companies in the natural foods industry have cleaned up their act, getting rid of most problematic ingredients. “That’s great news for careful eaters and people with food allergies,” says Ron Hunninghake, MD, chief medical officer of the Riordan Clinic in Wichita, Kansas. “It’s easy to find supplements that complement the many dietary habits or restrictions people have.”
Here are some points to consider if you are eating a special diet in order to ensure your diet doesn’t have any important nutrient gaps and that the supplements you use are in line with your special diet requirements, including common pitfalls to avoid.
It’s easier to control gluten-free eating at home, but you have a higher risk of accidental gluten contamination when dining out. This is where supplemental dipeptidyl peptidase-IV (DPP-4) can help. DPP-4 is an enzyme that breaks down gluten. It won’t protect against a pizza or bowl of pasta, but it will likely counter small amounts of gluten, such as the low amount in many soy sauces.
Most supplements don’t contain gluten, but read the label carefully anyway. Wheat free isn’t the same as gluten free. And some whole-food supplements might contain barley, rye or wheat—all of which contain gluten. Don’t use wheat germ oil, because small amounts of gluten pass through the oil-extraction process. And vitamin E? Don’t sweat it. Virtually all natural-source vitamin E now comes from soybean oil, which doesn’t contain gluten.
Vegan and vegetarian supplements are usually clearly labeled. Still, read the fine print. Most—but not all—softgel capsules, which range from golden to brownish in color, are made from gelatin, an animal byproduct. Hard capsules may be derived from either gelatin or vegetarian sources, and companies usually state if it’s a vegetarian source.
Fish and krill oils are derived from sea creatures, but the omega-3 fats are now available from vegetarian sources. Vitamin D2 is made from fungi, and most vitamin D3 is produced from sheep lanolin (the oil found on sheep wool). However, some companies now sell lichen-sourced D3. Bone meal and some digestive enzymes come from animal sources.
Strict vegans are at risk for some vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, iodine and amino acids (which the body uses to make protein). Vegetables are poor sources of vitamin B12, and plants contain phytates, which reduce mineral absorption. These potential pitfalls mean strict vegans and vegetarians may want to shore up your nutrient intake with a quality, daily multivitamin with minerals.
Blood sugar management
With an estimated 100 million Americans prediabetic and another 30 million with type 2 diabetes, controlling blood sugar has become a focus for many people. Monitoring carbohydrates and eating healthfully is crucial, but supplements can provide an edge. Silymarin, an extract of the herb milk thistle, has been shown to lower blood sugar and other markers of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Chromium is needed for normal insulin function. And so is high-dose biotin, a B vitamin that regulates genes responsible for carb breakdown. And another side bonus? Biotin also offers really great support for your hair and nails as well.
Special diet-approved supplements
Longtime supplement retailers and users recognize how the industry has changed—and how companies now accommodate people with special dietary needs. Gone is lactose as a binder and filler, except in homeopathic remedies. Conventional drugstore brands may not be so “clean.” Here are some examples of products that have risen to the challenge of accommodating special diet needs.
Contains dipeptidyl peptidase-IV (DPP-4), the enzyme that breaks down gliadin, the problematic protein in gluten. This supplement is best used in conjunction with a gluten-free diet to minimize the effects of gluten contamination.
Country Life Vegan D3.
For strict vegans, this is the way to go—a clearly labeled, vegan and gluten-free vitamin D supplement in a softgel capsule. Each vegetarian capsule contains 5,000 IU of vitamin D3, which is derived from lichen (instead of sheep lanolin).
Nature’s Way Thisilyn Liver Support Formula.
The liver works in tandem with the pancreas to regulate blood sugar levels, and silymarin (extract of milk thistle) has long been used to support liver function. Each vegetarian capsule provides 140 mg of silymarin.
At Betsy’s, we look forward to helping you choose supplements that meet the requirements of your specific health and diet needs. That’s one reason we carry such a wide variety of quality supplements for you to choose from.
Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before taking a supplement, especially if you take medication or have a medical condition. For example, many supplements thin blood and silymarin may be contraindicated with certain medicines and needs to be taken away from other medications.
Article copyright 2017 by Delicious Living and Jack Challem. All rights reserved. Used with permission.