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Better choices lead to better outcomes, but we can’t make the right choice if we’re not equipped with information. Today’s guest is Steve Lankford, Host of Health Quest Podcast. He and his wife began Family Nutrition Center in 1976 as a small independent health food store. They recently sold their store to a young couple who dream of carrying their legacy. Now, Steve is hosting a podcast to interview experts to help consumers understand how nutrition supports health and how to make wise choices as they navigate the overwhelming amount of information available today. Steve shares essential tips that will guide your wellness journey as he explains how supplements can influence health in a profound way. He also shares his thoughts on how the natural food industry is entering big business status and how to vet companies you can trust. Stay tuned.
Steve Lankford and his wife Debbie began Family Nutrition Center in 1976 as a small independent health food store in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In July of 2021 Family Nutrition Center celebrated 45 under one owner. Recently Steve and Debbie sold their store to a young couple whose dream is to carry on the legacy started by Steve and Debbie.
Steve is currently the host of HealthQuestPodcast.com. Steve has been interviewing experts in nutrition for almost 30 years. Health Quest Podcast has become one of the more recognizable podcasts in the natural products industry. There are over 400 episodes for listeners to explore, covering all of the important topics of natural health and supplementation.
Steve’s passion is helping consumers understand how nutrition supports health and how to make wise choices in today’s confusing marketplace. Steve’s motto is “The more you know the better choices you will make. Better choices lead to better outcomes”.
Additional Resources Mentioned:
Nutrition Without Compromise Podcast Episode: Vitamin D3 and Bone Health: A Complex Nutrient Story: https://orlonutrition.com/blogs/podcast/vitamin-d3-and-bone-health-a-complex-nutrient-story
Study: Low Omega-3 Index Is Just As Powerful In Predicting Early Death As Smoking: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210625/Study-Low-Omega-3-Index-is-just-as-powerful-in-predicting-early-death-as-smoking.aspx
00:02:56 What inspired Steve to enter the health food industry
00:11:36 The relevance of Steve’s past radio interviews today
00:13:34 Natural products entering big business status
00:18:40 Teasing through the BS and vetting companies
00:26:08 Thoughts on gummy vitamins
00:29:43 Balancing food and supplementation
00:36:43 Cross checking information and data from studies
00:45:12 Understanding your nutritional needs
00:57:10 Better choices make better outcomes
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Nutrition 101: How To Make Better Nutritional Choices That Lead To Better Health Outcomes With Steve Lankford
I invite you to get to know a friend from a my work life in the natural products industry, Steve Lankford. Steve and his wife, Debbie, began Family Nutrition Center in 1976, which happens to be the year I was born, as a small independent health food store in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In July of 2021, after all these years, Family Nutrition Center celebrated its 45th year under one owner.
Steve and Debbie sold the store to a young couple whose dream is to carry on the legacy that was started by Steve and Debbie. He hosts Health Quest Podcast, where he has been interviewing experts in nutrition for many years. Health Quest Podcast has become one of the most recognizable podcasts in the natural products industry.
There are over 400 episodes for listeners to explore, covering all of the important topics of natural health and supplementation. I had the pleasure of being a guest on his show. Steve’s passion is helping consumers understand how nutrition supports health and how to make wise choices in this very confusing marketplace. Steve, welcome to the show.
Thank you. I appreciate you having me here.
This is going to be a fun one for me. We have known each other for a long time, since Nordic days for me. I know Stuart Tomc has come on your show many times, first talking about Omegas, now in his world of CBD. It’s been a journey.
It’s a wonderful journey. I love educating people and helping them understand some of the challenges that face them in this confusing world. Having been a retailer for many years, I have answered a lot of questions for people and I get a sense of what it is that they are trying to understand. That’s been my passion is trying to help them understand these distinctions, nuances, and confusing topics of nutrition and good health.
There’s so much to know and we to learn more every single day as science affirms in many cases, what we thought we already knew from folk medicine through the many studies that have been completed. I would like to know personally what inspired you to stick around in this industry and in the world of having that retail store for so long.
It’s an inspiration that started way back when I was a young adult. At the age of 21, I started exploring better nutrition for myself. I lived in California, where, fortunately, we had access to health food stores back in that time. That started my personal interest, but what put me on this track and has kept me on this track was I went to a school that studied natural healing and natural modalities of health like nutrition, herbalism, massage, chiropractic, shiatsu, and all the kinds of things that we could learn back in the early-’70s. I studied and became an instructor in my three-year tenure there. That’s where I met Debbie. She was from the states and we met, fell in love, and had a child.You can buy supplements a lot of places now, but you don't necessarily get that personal attention. Click To Tweet
After those three years, we moved back to my hometown in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It was there that I was thinking, “Now what? How do I carry on this knowledge that I have learned and this passion that I have?” We decided at that time a health food store would be a wonderful way to help our community because we understood people need access and they need resources to learn from.
That’s when we started our little health food store in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and that was a very different time. 1976 health food stores were very different and they have been evolving over all of these decades, and it was my 1-to-1 contact with customers that gave me insight into my own knowledge base and solidified my appreciation for what I had learned. It also helped me understand the challenges that the average consumer faces in what products to use, how to use them intelligently, and how to make choices in the marketplace.
I spent a lot of years behind the counter counseling with people and helping them understand and make decisions. As a natural health food store, we were an access point for some of the best products, the best companies, and so we acted as a curator for our customers during all of those years. I was quite involved during the DSHEA year. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which all came about in the early-’90s.
Under a threat of the FDA to outlaw most nutritional products, it was something that we came together as an industry and we passed this bill called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in 1994, which is responsible for this golden age that we have right now. We alluded to the wonderful science that’s been going on over all of those years and I credit DSHEA for that.
During these years, we have seen wonderful growth in the natural products industry. We have seen a lot of changes. We have seen a lot of challenges. I started a radio show back in 1995. I did an hour a week where I discussed nutrition and interviewed some of these fabulous experts I learned from whenever I would go to a trade show.
I would go to these seminars and I would hear these wonderful experts. You mentioned Stuart Tomc, one of the best speakers I have ever known. I’ve learned a lot from him back in the Nordic Natural days and into the CBD days. This radio show gave me a voice, but I was very frustrated because if you weren’t tuning in at 8:00 on Sunday morning, you didn’t hear it, so that was always a problem for me.
It’s the same thing for every terrestrial radio show. It’s the same problem.
It is. I tried burning CDs and things like that. I was an early adopter of the internet technology and I started streaming my interviews in 1999. I was streaming these interviews well before podcasts were even a thing. I did that for almost twenty years. Along the way, I started hearing about podcasts and the value of podcasts and wondering how you do a podcast. I took a class in podcasting. Within one month I was able to start Health Quest Podcast back in 2011.
I have been streaming the podcast since then with now over 400 shows. The podcast has been a wonderful innovation that allows people like you and me to reach a worldwide audience. If we have content that is worth listening to, people can find us. It’s been my passion. I turned my store over to other people to run it, and I have been focusing on the podcast all these years. It’s been my venue to reach out to people, and so I interview experts and sometimes experts can be a little daunting to understand. I’ve been there. Done that.
It’s been my passion for taking what science offers us, what these wonderful experts know. Learn from interviewing them and use that as a platform for hoping to make it a consumer-friendly source of content if people listen to it. Hopefully, by the end of a podcast, they will understand something about the topic that we are discussing and, if need be, enough information to make a choice to go forward. It’s been so much fun for me to interview all of these interesting people.
Some industry greats you are no longer living. Dr. Passwater is an example that I wanted to bring up. I believe you interviewed him numerous times on your show.
It was his son. I always tried to get the Sr., but never was able to, but what a giant in our industry. You are exactly right. These voices that you and I have learned from, they are retiring and passing on. It’s such a different world. We don’t have quite the same access to them that we had as store owners and as trade show visitors.
If I can preserve these voices and content, which is as valuable as it was when I recorded it several years ago, that these voices and this knowledge is preserved at least up to a point where I can share these experts with others and help consumers find those interviews. That’s often a trick as well. One of my things is that I have created search tools, so people can go and they can easily search on a topic, a guest, a company or a health condition. They could find all of the interviews that we have done on those topics. They could pick the ones of interest.
It’s interesting because we find people going back ten years into our history and still finding these interviews and downloading the ones that they are interested in. That’s how it’s supposed to work. It’s not good just for today, not good just for this year, but good as long as my podcast exists, people should have access to this wonderful content. It’s been a wonderful journey and I have talked to some of the greatest minds in the natural products industry.
One of my questions for you was going to be given the breadth of contents that you’ve covered and the length of history that you have under your belt, if you’ve been able to go back to those earlier radio show episodes and even air some of them now, is that something you’ve been able to do?
It is something that I have been able to do. For example, back in about 2006, before the podcast, I had interviewed a well-known herbalist, Michael Tierra, who’s been an influential member of our industry and I was able to bring that interview to my readers. Even though the content is somewhat dated, the expertise and confidence he brings are still as valuable now.It's easier to go to a health food store, and talk to somebody who's already done that homework for you. Click To Tweet
Every once in a while, I get the urge to go back through and pull out some of these wonderful interviews from the archives. I have interviewed, for example, Patricia Bragg. What a history of that family. I know that she’s not readily available anymore, but I could certainly bring out that content. Other people, you might know of, Aubrey Hampton in the natural cosmetics industry, Patrick Quillin. There are so many interesting people.
For Bragg, you’ll have to get Katy Perry to come on now.
I would love to do that. I’m not sure that I would rise to her level of expertise, but you never know. I’m trying to reach out to as many people as I can find who like what I do and would be willing to contribute. I’m so glad to be on your show. I was glad to have you on my podcast because we both share a passion, and that to me, what makes the difference in this industry is the passion people have for the work they do.
This opens a door for me to talk about something that has happened within the natural channel for many years now. That is the consolidation that has occurred, where a lot of what is going on in natural products is becoming a big business with big companies that are running the show. In my humble opinion, it’s lost a little bit of the personality we saw in its earlier phases.
You also mentioned having direct access to some of these founders and industry leaders who have built the companies that have made the difference that we all see now. It’s harder to get to them. It is, and often they end up selling to another larger company. New Chapter is now part of Procter & Gamble. In the case of Bragg, however, Patricia Bragg sold to Katy Perry. That may sound like it’s a far-removed thing, but they got to tell their story. I believe it was at Expo West. Katy Perry shared that she had known Patricia for years, been a family friend and that Patricia Bragg gave her first guitar.
A very strong family connection, which is quite different than somebody like Procter & Gamble buying New Chapter. A very different set of circumstances.
You selling your health food store to a couple that is focused on having that legacy live on. That’s a different approach than what many are seeing out there. There are a few larger companies that I have a lot of respect for that have maintained more of that family feel. I could think of also in the personal care space, Dr. Bronner, as an example. They have led the charge as a certified B Corp, putting their employees first.
Promoting from within the company consistently as opposed to going to larger companies and saying, “I want to get this VP from Procter & Gamble to come and work to scale our business.” They have focused on maintaining the culture that keeps them rooted in this purpose, as opposed to the dollars and cents of building the business.
I often refer to it this way. These large multinational conglomerates, they are looking for business opportunities. They see opportunity in the natural products industry where many years ago, we were a fad or a passing fancy, but now they see that many people have embraced good nutrition and supplementation.
Here’s how I phrase it. They buy the company and the profits, but they don’t buy the philosophy that created this company. If there is no carryover from the original owners into the new company, I think that’s what’s lost. Procter & Gamble isn’t going to become a natural products company. Think of all the products they carry, and I asked myself, “How could they possibly care about health on that personal level if they are going to sell all these other kinds of products that don’t fit into this philosophy?’
It doesn’t mean that the products won’t be good or that we can’t trust the products that they make. I’m not so sure that we can count on them to lead us forward with the same passion and interest that an individual owner takes when he sees this opportunity and then creates a great company around it. We have so many of those kinds of leaders in our industry, and it is that they are getting older and selling their companies and moving on in, which is a reasonable thing to do. It’s unfortunate because it leaves a gap in the knowledge base. How to make distinctions in the marketplace? How to vet companies, experts, and products? These are the areas where I feel people oftentimes are lost and confused and don’t have the wherewithal to figure that out.
In looking at the picture, I look for those companies that still have this personal touch because they are the ones that have the passion. They are the ones that have the vested interest, and this is where I seek out this science that’s emerging and the companies that are emerging. In my perspective, these other companies are out of my picture because they don’t have somebody to talk about it in the way a passionate owner can. It’s a challenge for me to vet those companies and then bring it to my listeners, but it is what I do because I know how much they need and appreciate it.
Let’s talk for a moment about that challenge, teasing through the BS. Let’s call it what it is. There’s a lot of marketing out there that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of foundation. Something can sound good and look good on Amazon and not provide the substance of a mindfully and thoughtfully created product.
There are many brands even that don’t ever touch the product that they market there. It goes directly from a contract manufacturer to a fulfillment warehouse and into the hands of consumers, without having any one person or group of people feel that accountability for it, which is visible and connected and even possible to get to. How do you talk to your audience when it comes to things like this when they might think, “I saw it on Amazon for $20, so I’m going to go for that?”
It’s a constant message that I reiterate on almost every podcast and interview that I do is that you have to do a little homework. You have to vet these companies. How do you do that? In the past, you would go to your local health food store. That’s where you would talk to the owner, the family, or the employees who had a passion, and they were the gatekeepers who looked at these companies, bought the best products and transmitted that knowledge to their customers.
It’s not as easy now. There’s a drastic loss of the independent health food stores. You can’t go to a big grocery-type health food store these days and ask these questions because the staff either don’t know or aren’t enabled to answer things very specifically. I always tell people if you’ve got a good health food store, go there, talk to the people, find out what a store they are and do business with them because they are there because of the passion, the knowledge and the desire to help you be better.Food should be the foundation. However, supplementation is really the key if you're looking to do more than what food can do for you. Click To Tweet
You do not get that in drug stores, on the internet, in the gas station, or where some people will buy their supplements. You can buy supplements in a lot of places now, but you don’t necessarily get that personal attention. If you don’t have that personal attention where you can trust somebody who knows how to recommend a good product and can advise you, then you have to figure out how to do this on your own.
One way to do that is to listen to my podcast and you will learn about some of these good companies and from some of these experts. I tell people to vet the company. How do you do that? If the company has a physical address, they have an address somewhere listed where they have a plant, an office, or whatever. If they have a phone number that you can call and ask a question and learn something about them. Being able to contact the company, that’s one of my first clues.
There are many companies, and you try to find out how to get ahold of them, how to call them to ask a question. They are not there for that. Good companies want you to know what they do and how to reach them so you can ask questions and you can learn directly from your contact with the company. That’s one way.
I also suggest that they look deeper into whether this company has industry certifications. A lot of our industries, the good ones, have embraced the certification programs like the GNP certifications, Good Manufacturing Practices and other certifications. These companies have their products tested. I was interviewing one company that tests for over 900 contaminants in their raw materials and finished goods.
Companies that invest in this research want their customers to know about it, so they are usually happy to transmit that. There’s a phrase that’s gotten popular called transparency, which is the ability to be transparent about your company and let your consumers know who you are, what you support, and what you stand for and good companies still have that, and they will be happy to share that.
Certifications are one way. Perhaps awards are another way. Many of our good companies have received many awards for the quality of their products and their popularity with the stores and the consumers. These are ways that you can find some of this information often on their websites. You can look for that certification because if they have received certifications and wards, they want the customers to know about it.
Other people that you respect, and that may be other experts in the industry that you have heard of or read their books. You might be able to learn something about what they refer to and what they endorse, and then we get down to looking at the quality of ingredients and the quality of products and the certifications and testing of these products.
It’s homework. It’s a fair amount of work in the beginning, if you want to understand, but it’s like shopping for groceries in the store. If you are a label reader like me and I read labels and I reject most products that I see on the grocery store shelf, but occasionally I find something that I’m like, “I can use this because more companies are making better products,” but you have to pay attention. You have to read these labels. You have to do some research, but once you’ve done it, then it’s a lot easier.
I go to the grocery store and I know where everything is that I want. Occasionally, I might shop around, but it’s still by reading labels. You have to decide whether these things are important to you, these different distinctions in the marketplace. If they are, then look for the companies that do that. Once you identify a good company, then you can usually feel free to explore their whole line of products.
I don’t know what’s right for somebody, but I do know if they buy from a good company. They can at least have confidence in the product and explore what this company has to offer in terms of information, knowledge, and quality products. It’s a process, and that’s why it’s easier to go to a health food store. Talk to somebody who’s already done that homework for you.
If you do that work, then you start to learn who you can trust, and maybe if you make a mistake and realize not that company or product, you’ve learned something in the process and you won’t go there again. Maybe you might tell your friends about it. The knowledge gets passed on that way as well. Those are a few of the things that I advise people to try to do when they don’t know. Get some education by doing some research, then you’ll be more confident.
You mentioned something that I want to address because it’s true most of the time, but not all of the time, and that is with regard to a product’s popularity. Specifically, I’m thinking about gummy vitamins. I consider gummy vitamins to be fortified candy. If you want to have some candy, that’s a good way to get some of it. Even when they are made with tapioca or other fibers to reduce the amount of sugars in them, they still are generally processed sugars. They have to contain quite a bit in order to adhere. Something like only 10% of the weight of a gummy can be actives. Even if it’s Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin B, or even a multi, you are getting a lot of added sugar your body might not need. We have an obesity epidemic in this country, and so I tell people don’t do gummies. I wonder what your thoughts are.
I have to say that the gummy movement is the most surprising thing I have seen. I was very surprised that these would become so popular, so ubiquitous and become one of the preferred forms for nutrition. You are absolutely right. People who rely on gummies are not paying attention, or they might compare the potencies or the ingredients.
There may be some reasonable gummies out there. I don’t buy them. I don’t care for them. I have tried a lot of them as samples, but I wouldn’t buy them because the potency is not there. It’s too easy to look at this as an easy way to get your supplementation, but it’s not, from my perspective, a way to have the best ingredients, targeted nutrition, or potencies even. They are big limitations to gummies, and if you are going to use them, read the labels and make sure you are getting. If that’s your choice, go for it, but I don’t recommend gummies myself and I don’t think they are the ideal form.
They are a waste of money. It’s fortified candy. If you continue to look at it that way, you might make different wiser choices long-term. You shared your motto in the notes that we started with. The more you know, the better choices you will make. Better choices lead to better outcomes. By talking about how gummies may not be the best choice for your supplementation regime, you’ll make a better choice next time.
I’m hoping that people continue to grow. We all are on this journey and wherever you are at, you shouldn’t be stuck there. Hopefully, you are continuing to learn, evaluate, and move forward. I would encourage people to look beyond gummies for a better source of intensified nutrition. What most of my listeners are looking for are ways to achieve higher levels of targeted nutrition that might make a difference in their health and body responds. I’m not sure that gummies have any good history of showing that.You can take supplements, but if you're not eating good foods, a well balanced diet, the supplements can only carry you so far. Click To Tweet
There’s another trend within the natural channel, which is a movement towards getting all of your nutrition from food or even choosing to juice instead of taking supplements. I wonder what your thoughts are as it relates to that because I did feature an episode with Dr. William Li, who is a New York Times bestseller. He wrote a book called Eat to Beat Disease. Very focused on foods. Not so much on the supplement side. We admit a few key supplements are supportive of health, including an Omega-3. I’m curious to see what you think and how you direct people to supplement even if they tell you, “I seek all of my nutrition from food.”
It’s important that food should be the foundation, and I think that people should be looking at their food and making choices in terms of the variety and the sources, going organic, grass-fed, and wild-caught when possible. There are substantially better resources in food, and this is the foundation. However, supplementation is the key if you are looking to do more than what food can do for you.
This is where maybe we start looking into either the therapeutic value of nutrients or if somebody doesn’t eat well. At least they might be able to augment their diet with more targeted and precise nutrition. If you look at the studies you and I both do, we find that these targeted nutrients in certain potencies are leading to these results.
It very much depends on what the person is looking to accomplish. If they are healthy, they are eating well and don’t feel like they have any deficiencies. That may be the case. However, I suspect that most people are going to need more. You mentioned Omega-3. That’s one area where probably most people are deficient and not nearly well-nourished enough to rely on their food for those sources.
There may be a few of us, but not most of us. The importance of something like Omega-3 as a supplement in my mind, it’s the most important nutrient I can recommend to a consumer. Regardless of what their state of health is. I know that if they don’t consume sufficient Omega-3 and perhaps reduce the amount of Omega-6 in their diet, they will struggle with either inflammation or subclinical inflammation, but it’s something that none of the others that we take are going to be able to replace.
Omega-3 is unique in its benefits to the body. If you are dealing with pain and inflammation, it is the most important first primary product to consider and consider getting it in what might be considered a therapeutic dose. When it gets to talking about fish oil, there are all kinds of products and potencies. It’s good for people to learn about these nutrients, why they should take them and what they will do for them.
I think that nutritional supplementation is the key to targeting better health. It’s like taking care of your pet or taking care of your garden. You don’t have to give them good food, or you don’t have to take care of your plants. The animals will grow and the plants will grow, but they won’t be as healthy and won’t achieve their full potential unless we apply the right things they need.
We feed our pets well. We nourish our plants and we make sure they get enough water, and then we get the results that we are looking for, and nutritional supplementation is like that. We can all live for who knows how many years, but will we live as well? Will we heal, repair, and restore as well? No, we won’t because we are limiting our own body by not providing it with all the adequate resources.
This is where diet is important. It cannot possibly supply us with what we might consider these therapeutic amounts, which then influence health in a more profound way. I find them foundational, but they don’t replace foods. I tell people that. You can take supplements, but if you are not eating good foods, a well-balanced diet, a good variety, the supplements can only carry you so far.
It’s the combination of good food and a healthy lifestyle. Let’s not forget all the other good things that we can avail of our sales that these nutrients and especially quality targeted high potency nutrients in some cases are the combination towards getting the best results. You alluded to my thoughts of more knowledge equals better choices and better choices equal better outcomes. That’s almost in everything.
You can go out and buy a cheap shirt and it’ll look good on you for a while, but it won’t hold up and it won’t look as good over time. It won’t perform for you the way that you want. What’s the difference between one shirt and another? The materials, the care, and the design, all of the things that are thought about in order to make something better, these are the same characteristics that go into making good supplements.
Somebody who cares, somebody who looks at the science and makes distinctions, and then brings a product to the marketplace. Contrast that to all of the Amazon marketers and people in the marketplace who have jumped on the bandwagon but could care less about the end result of the consumer. If consumers look deep enough, they will find that there are all kinds of problems with these products in the marketplace.
There are many subpar products that are low potency, poor quality ingredients, adulterated products, or products with drugs in them. There are so many problems. If you are not buying from a company you know you can trust, then you are very potentially a victim of these kinds of marketing that isn’t going to do you any good in the long run, and they are going to pick your pocket.
They will pick your pocket and they are expensive, basically fodder for your toilet and the end.
The most expensive supplement is the one that doesn’t do you any good. For various reasons, why not?
I do want to point out an analysis. There’s this long-term ongoing study called the VITAL study. It was specifically designed to measure Vitamin D and Omega-3 trials. It was originally designed to look at the impacts on overall cardiovascular health and beyond. We did an ancillary study of the results. In this ancillary study, they were essentially saying that Vitamin D didn’t prevent bone breaks and older adults.Pick a nutritional program based on your individual needs. Click To Tweet
They are saying there’s no benefit to Vitamin D and the tests for your Vitamin D levels having to be over 30 milliliters per deciliter are ridiculous or unfounded and should be thrown out with the bath water. I was astounded to read this. I went and read the research, and so I published an episode on the other show I host, Nutrition Without Compromise, to talk about it and to help people understand why these results might not be what you would anticipate because you associate Vitamin D with bone health.
The entire story, when you are talking about bone health, is more complicated. You have to ensure that you are also getting enough Vitamin K in your diet because Vitamin K is ensuring that the calcium goes to the correct spaces. Not to your blood vessels, soft tissues, knees, and joints. Creating arthritis and other conditions in your body.
If you are not getting the proper balance of other nutrients with Vitamin D3, and that Omega-3, let’s say, Omega-3 isn’t associated with bone health directly, but Vitamin D has been that we need to think a little bit more deeply. We see these studies that are looking at one aspect of health and one nutrient for what it can do.
I counsel people to see these kinds of shock media coming up in the New York Times, as was the case in this particular study that saw the New York Times piece was July 27th, 2022 and then the actual study results were published on the 28th. The episode is VITAMIN D3 AND BONE HEALTH: A Complex Nutrient Story. I wonder if you have comments also on other studies that might’ve been similar that basically tell people, “Let’s pump the brakes on this whole supplementing thing. There’s ‘no proof’ that it works.”
How often have we heard this? I have been hearing it for almost 50 years. Your health food cracks, your vitamin nuts, and your health food baddest. Those things I have learned to take with a huge grain of salt, but isn’t it interesting that out of the thousands of studies on Vitamin D that show the benefits of Vitamin D, but the New York Times would focus on this one study as if this was the end all be all of the science that we understand.
Anytime I would read a study like that, I would do what you did, but then I would also contrast it with what else is out there. I like a site called Google Scholar and PubMed. If you go to Google Scholar and you put in Vitamin D, you’ll find out how many thousands and maybe tens of thousands of studies there are. Then you start to look at what’s the predominance of these studies. Do these studies corroborate what this one study says, or is there a whole bunch of evidence on the other side? I will also look to many of the experts that I have interviewed to ring in on these things as well.
The idea that one study is going to tell you the answer and this idea that you mentioned that there’s no good science for nutrition. When somebody says that, there are two thoughts that I have. Either they are very ignorant and have never gone to look at the depth and breadth of the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of studies on nutrition that have been done. They are either ignorant of that or they are willfully deliberately misleading people about it. I don’t know which is worse because they are both wrong.
To hear these things which do get so frequently magnified by different media, it must be that they have a good publicist or something like that, because I don’t know why it would be that these studies get magnified and not the other good studies or why supposedly credible sources don’t do their own homework when confronted with something like that and pass it on.
It’s not surprising anymore, and I realized that there is a huge disparity in information. When I started in the health food business, there was an idea that maybe only 15% of the population shopped in a health food store and the rest of the people didn’t care. Now we have a time when more people care, but I don’t know that more people are shopping in the health food store.
We still have this huge information gap because people want it to be easy. They want, “Tell me what to do. Tell me what to take.” When they read something like that, the sad part is some people are going to believe that that’s the way it is, and therefore they are going to turn to their partner, their friend, or themselves and say, “Why am I taking this? The research says it’s not any good.” It’s unfortunate because it leads people to discount the value of nutrition because these articles aren’t a good reflection of the totality of the science.
That’s not easy to do, but it’s possible. What do you do when you read a study like that? You go start to look on the internet and see this is corroborated by other credible sources. Is it discussed by other credible sources? Is it counteracted by other credible sources? For those of us who don’t have much confidence in those kinds of reports, it doesn’t sway us very much, but it’s the person that’s on the edge, the person who doesn’t know how to research these things themselves, and so they take them as fact. If it’s on the internet, New York Times, or TV. It must be true. They wouldn’t put things on that aren’t true. How can that be? People have to understand that because it’s out there doesn’t make it true, credible, reliable, or accurate.
You have to face that fact. If you don’t face that fact, then you are subject all the whims and spurious content that might come your way. Hopefully you have a friend, a confidant, a doctor, or a health food store that can help you understand what might be wrong with that. This is another example of where you always have to pay attention and evaluate. Is what I’m hearing sound right? If not, what’s wrong with this idea? Stuff like that rolls off my back, but then my job is to hopefully paint another picture for people that does discuss the science and the benefits in a more credible way.
Speaking to something you also said earlier, which had to do with people with bad habits supplementing. I saw a very positive study on Omega-3s. It was a 2X2 study, which means that they had two factors that they were evaluating and it was smoker or non-smoker Omega-3 or no Omega-3. There were smokers who didn’t supplement with Omega-3 and smokers who supplemented with Omega-3. There were non-smokers who supplemented with Omega-3, and then also smokers who did supplement.
One group of each that did and one group of each that did not. They found that the smokers who supplemented with Omega-3 had similar health markers to those who were non-smokers and didn’t supplement. It gave them the benefit. It erased some of the damage they saw from being a smoker and made them like somebody who neither smoked nor didn’t supplement. The health markers for the individual who was a non-smoker and supplemented with Omega-3 had health markers that were better than any of them that showed a greater likelihood of longevity.
We think about this and understand that there’s so much supportive research for a few key vitamins. I’m not saying every single thing out there. I personally take an Omega-3, a Vitamin D, to support my brain health, mood health, and immune health. There are so many reasons I take these two supplements together. I also take something like a greens product and I will mix that with my protein to give me an added push. More greens, more better in my book. In addition to that, I take a probiotic to help with digestion, and that’s my base.
I sometimes take a multivitamin, but I don’t take a multivitamin every day. I know it’s good for me, but sometimes I forget it because I’m in my morning routine. Then I also take a Vitamin C. It’s not a lot of supplements, but they are all researched. They are all beneficial to my health, and sometimes I will even take some of them a couple of times in a day, because I’m like, “I feel I need a little bit more Omega-3 and Vitamin C. I’m feeling a little under the weather. I’m going to get my system a little bit of extra support.” That’s my thinking, and I wonder, given all your years of being in this industry, what your supplement regime looks like.We can't get better if we're not doing the things that help the body be better. Click To Tweet
My supplement regime looks very similar to yours. I do take a multivitamin. I take the Omega-3. I use a liquid Omega-3 because I want to get a higher dose, and my wife wants to get 4,000 units of EPA and DHA, so she takes a tablespoon of liquid fish oil. I take the probiotic, magnesium, and nattokinase. My wife dishes these up. I have to think about it a little bit, but it’s about eleven different supplements that I take, and I chose those because of my particular circumstances, and this is what I advise people to do. Figure out what your particular situation is and try to understand your health. If you have a disease or are taking medications, try to understand the important factors.
Does the medication affect your liver? The idea of picking a nutritional program based on your individual needs. When I advise people, I say, “Start with the Omega-3 and maybe a multivitamin. The Vitamin C and Vitamin D.” I take that as well. Then you can start to target nutrients for your particular situation.
My wife has an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis. She’s had it since her twenties and it’s been a devastating disease, and yet we have been able to turn that around. The most important nutrient that turned her around was Omega-3. I learned about the therapeutic dosage of Omega-3 from Dr. Maroon, who was speaking for Nordic Naturals.
I interviewed him and I understood because he explains well how he came to these potencies and his own effect in his self, and then on his patients. I put my wife on that in the early-2000s. In six months, for the first time in 20 to 25 years, her inflammation levels came down into the normal range and have remained there ever since.
She also takes some of the newer biologic medicines, which are out there, so it was a combination of these two. The biologics only helped her so far and the Omega-3 took her the rest of the way towards normalization and the fact that she’s been able to sustain that. It’s because she does take medication, then she takes things that help protect her liver. There are things like the LiverCare by Himalaya, milk thistle.
She rotates between those. She takes one day, one another day, and another one the third day. She’s always taking something that helps support her detoxification and her liver health. As a result of that, she’s never had a liver enzyme test that went out of norm, which they are testing for because these medications are sometimes very hard on the liver.
It’s looking to create a personalized program that makes sense for an individual. Oftentimes the systems where if you can find a good counselor, nutritional doctor, naturopathic physician, or a good knowledgeable health food store even, you can start to create a program that’s targeted for your particular needs. On the other hand, I have been very lucky. I don’t take any medications. I have no health issues that I have to seek medical care for. I take things that are immediately supportive, like the Omega-3, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin Z, and so on, but I also take things that I hope will have long-term benefits for which I don’t know I will need.
What I mean by that is my father, who I didn’t know, had cardiac issues, died fairly young, and had diabetes. Not knowing whether this might be a risk factor for me, I take some things that are good for supporting cardiac health. Magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, and nattokinase are some specific choices that I take for their long-term benefit, not knowing specifically that I have that problem. It’s a way of looking into my family history and making some judgments about taking some supplements that might support me in those areas. Not everybody has to do that. I don’t know I have to do it, but it’s all right there when you own a health food store. You can take whatever you want.
I had the luxury to experiment with these nutrients as well. To develop a program that is targeted to your circumstances. I don’t take glucosamine. I don’t have any joint problems that might be good for, but I do have these other risk factors that I do support. My hope is that by doing that and eating well, I’m going to gain the benefit of some results. Not sure exactly what they might be.
One of the ways that I do like to judge is through some of these benchmark tests that are available to us now. The Vitamin D tests. My wife and I both took those to see what our status was. We took the Omega-3 blood tests. Simple home tests can point you in the right direction by showing you what your levels are, and then as you make changes, you can test again and see how your results are developing, and you can proceed from the knowledge that way. I’m a big fan of these emerging home tests, at least for a couple of times as benchmark tests to help us discover where we are at and what the results are of the changes that we make.
Something else to keep in mind is there are other tests that are inexpensive and a good idea, especially for people if they are vegan or women that are menstruating. One is the ferritin test because that will tell you if your iron levels are low. Low energy, skin issues, and bleeding a lot during your period are all sometimes related to not having enough iron in your system.
You are both losing more iron than you might need to because you don’t have enough iron in your system. If you had more iron, you might not be bleeding as much. These are things that you can confront on an ongoing basis. I like to give my blood every three months, and so that serves as my ferritin test because they will tell me whether or not I can give fluid. A simple thing.
Something else to consider. The 23andMe genetic test. Granted, they then have your genetic material and results for you, but they can tell you if you are genetically predisposed to certain conditions. I learned that I might be genetically predisposed to have low levels of CoQ10, which is important for all sorts of things in your system, and so that’s another supplement that I check and take on a periodic basis as well. That’s soluble good for you. No reason not to.
That’s exactly the point. Unfortunately, we can’t count on most of our doctors to think that these things are important. If you are fortunate enough to have a doctor or a healthcare professional that does, great. More power to you, but most of us have doctors who think nutrition is a waste of time and money, and they don’t believe that nutrition can make much of a difference in your outcomes.
It’s surprising. Refreshing to meet a doctor who does understand it and can work with you on it, but for those that don’t, it can be very frustrating because it ends up, you don’t tell your doctor what you are taking because he’s not interested. He’s going to poo-poo it and make you feel bad. We don’t tell them, and we go on our own.
We could do so much better if we had healthcare professionals that understood the relationship of nutrition and lifestyle to health and then medications as an adjunct to that. That’s wishful thinking, but they are out there and sometimes we can find them if we look, and if you can’t find one, ask people you know. Ak that independent health food store because they probably know.
Before I thank you for joining me and sending you on your merry way, I’d love to know if there was a question I haven’t asked that you wish I had, and if there was, you could ask and answer it.
I ask that all the time to my guests. I hadn’t thought of it. What I would like to suggest to people is don’t be discouraged. Learn to be optimistic and to have confidence that what you put effort into will bring results. Whatever direction you go in life, try to understand the people you are in contact with and try to understand yourself what are your issues.
If you have health issues, try to understand them in a deeper way so that you understand your personal challenges, because then you might be able to seek out those beneficial nutrients, supplements, and formulas that will help you. I hope people will start to understand that there’s good information out there and they can find it and they can dig deeper. The more they know, the better choices they are going to make, and these better choices inevitably lead to better outcomes.
We can’t get better if we are not doing the things that help the body be better. If you don’t know what those are, learn what they are and find good credible sources. I hope Health Quest Podcast is one of your resources, and if it is, I’m happy about that. Don’t be discouraged. Be optimistic and know that you can find answers and they are out there for you. Be confident, be bold, and go out and make your journey. It’s one step at a time. In five years, you are going to be five years older. What are you going to do between now and then to make a difference? We can all make a difference, and baby steps is one way to do it.
One step at a time. Don’t try to do it all, but learn bit by bit what’s important and necessary for you. Be tenacious about going forward and you will see results. Whatever they are, a person that’s better nourished will do better in the long-term. Whether you are healthy or have a health condition, seek to be better nourished and you will get whatever results nature has for you. I can’t predict what that is, but I’m pretty darn sure that if you don’t do it, you are not going to get the results, and if you do it, you are likely to get the results.
That’s a perfect note on which to end. Thank you so much for joining me.
Thank you. I enjoyed it.
To connect with Steve and review blogs and content related to Health Quest Podcast, go to HealthQuestPodcast.com, as we delve into the importance of Omega-3s a little more deeply as it relates to overall nutrition and health. As we close this episode, I invite all of you to consider a simple question. Are you providing your body with the nutrition it needs to thrive? We are moving beyond survival to thriving. Addressing this at any point in your life can help you lead a healthier, happier, and more productive life.
It’s one piece of the self-care equation that we too often leave out. We leave it unattended as we rush to go through our day by what’s cheap and fast. We need to slow down a little bit. Just a touch. Fall in love with the food that we eat. Consume a wide variety of great food. Do it with friends and family. Foster that community and strengthen your resolve to build healthy relationships with your family and friends. This will help you be the most productive version of yourself. You’ll be happier, healthier, and live longer.
The choices you make for the food you put on your plate is only the start. You can look to supplements and great podcasts like Health Quest Podcast to help you on your journey. If you have questions for Steve or me, I hope you’ll reach out by sending an email to Hello@CareMoreBeBetter.com or you can visit my website. Click on that microphone icon and the bottom right-hand corner and leave me a message. Thank you, readers, now and always, for being a part of this show and this community because together, we can do so much more. We can care more and we can be better. We can even regenerate Earth. Thank you.
- Steve Lankford
- Health Quest Podcast
- Stuart Tomc – Past episode
- Dr. Richard Passwater Jr. – Past episode
- Dr. Michael Tierra – Past episode
- Dr. William Li – Past episode
- Eat to Beat Disease
- Nutrition Without Compromise
- VITAMIN D3 AND BONE HEALTH: A Complex Nutrient Story – Past episode
- Google Scholar
- Study – Study: Low Omega-3 Index is just as powerful in predicting early death as smoking
- Dr. Joseph Maroon – Past episode