In practice, I find there are five common mistakes that people are making with respect to supplements.
- The first is the belief that diet is enough and you don’t need to supplement. For many health conditions, you require more nutrients than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) suggests. Keep in mind that the RDA is set at recommended levels for healthy individuals and this may not be enough if you have a health concern (ie depression, anxiety, hormone imbalances, fatigue, high blood pressure, etc). Also, in this day and age, we are exposed to a barrage of chemicals on a daily basis, and you require more nutrients to support your bodies ability to detoxify and eliminate these potentially harmful chemicals.
- Many are taking the wrong form of a nutrient – Many nutrients come in different forms, and some are better than others. For example – Vitamin B12 comes in three forms – cyanocobalamin, hydroxycobalamin and methylcobalamin – and the most absorbable form is methylcobalamin. This is why it is best to see a Naturopathic doctor who can help navigate the nutrient highway for you.
- Many are taking the wrong dose of a nutrient – It is a common occurrence for a patient to dismiss a nutrient as ineffective. When I question the dose they were taking, 99% of the time, they were taking too low of a dose. There is an anti-vitamin spin to most media reporting in vitamin research and the message they are promoting is that vitamin therapy does not work. This is nonsense. There are thousands of nutritional research studies that provide evidence that vitamins help prevent and treat serious diseases, including mental illness and heart disease, when the nutrients are supplied in sufficiently high doses. This is the key: the correct dose is required. Says cardiologist Thomas Levy, M.D.: “The three most important considerations in effective vitamin C therapy are dose, dose, and dose. If you don’t take enough, you won’t get the desired effects.”
- List of Non-medicinal ingredients – The other day a patient brought in a garlic pill that she was taking for me to assess. One of the ingredients on the label was hydrogenated oil. I was shocked! With all the bad press about the dangers of hydrogenated oil and trans-fats, why would it be in a supplement? Yet, there it was! It is important to read labels particularly the list of non-medicinal ingredients of which there should be no more than five. To determine whether a hard tablet supplement you are taking contains fillers and sugars, you can place them on a baking sheet covered in tinfoil and bake for 15 min at 350F. The tablets should change color mildly and/or look “baked” as food would. Many poor quality products burn into a black mass because of the fillers and sugars used in manufacturing.
- Breakdown/Absorption: Another concern with supplements is whether you are absorbing the nutrients you are ingesting. In order for you to do that, you have to be able to break the supplement down. As mentioned, Naturopathic Doctors prescribe professional quality supplements that are mostly liquid, powder or vegetable capsule based and we rarely prescribe hard tablets because they are difficult to break down. If you are taking a hard tablet supplement, put it into ¼ cup of vinegar. It should dissolve within a ½ hour, as vinegar approximates the acidity of our stomach. If it doesn’t dissolve, it is unlikely you are breaking it down properly to assimilate the essential nutrients it contains.
My mom keeps telling me, if you buy a cheap pair of shoes, you will be replacing them next year. However, spend a little more money and buy a good quality pair and it will last you for years. I can attest to this because I have the same pair of black dress shoes since my banking career days in the 1990s! The same can be said about supplements. You pay for what you get and when it comes to your body you want to make sure you are taking the right nutrients. It is best to be under the care of a Naturopathic Doctor who is trained in herbs, homeopathics and supplements, as well as pharmaceutical medications. Work with your Naturopathic Doctor to optimize your health today – call 587-521-3595 to book an appointment