SUPPLEMENTS! Ok, so they aren't medication, so that's good, right? Well...is it? Here's the thing. Medication can be good if it's really needed, and it's temporary. I'm not anti-medication or pharmaceuticals. I just think they tend to be overused, particularly with chronic conditions.
While I also have some concerns over the FDA in general, did you know that the FDA doesn't regulate our supplements like they do pharmaceutical drugs? Drugs/Pharmaceuticals go through intense trial testing, and deemed unsafe until "proven safe". While that's not exactly helping me sleep better at night while I down my Ambien, at least it's tested. Supplements, however, are treated as a special food category, and treated as "safe" until proven "unsafe". See original article HERE. In 1994, DSHEA ( Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act) was formed. GET. THIS. Any supplement that was on the market prior to DSHEA was GRANDFATHERED in. Meaning, NO review for safety.
Now that we have that out of the way, are you buying your supplements on Amazon? Because even Amazon is warning against that. Check this out: HERE. If you're looking for the short version, Amazon essentially acknowledges that third party sellers can sell supplements without any testing. That means they can be cut with prescriptions, street drugs, whatever cheap synthetic filler that's available. It doesn't mean ALL supplements on Amazon are bad, but how do you know? The safest way to buy supplements off Amazon is to ensure you are at a Retailer's Amazon STORE. Designs for Health is a brand I often recommend to clients, and yes, they have an Amazon store. BUT WAIT. There's another issue here.
How do you know your body needs that supplement? "But it's just a multi-vitamin...". If you are eating nutrient dense foods, or depending on your bio-individuality, you may not need that multi-vitamin. Here are a few nutrients often found in multi-vitamins, and side effects of too much of that nutrient. *All symptoms provided by NIH Fact Sheets.
Vitamin A - Dizziness, Headaches, Nausea, Coma, and NIH even quotes Death
Vitamin D - Nausea, Vomiting, Poor Appetite, Constipation, Weakness
Calcium - Renal (Kidney) Insufficiency, Vascular and Soft Tissue Calcification/Hardening, Kidney Stones
Magnesium - Diarrhea, Nausea, Abdominal Cramping
Iron - Constipation, Nausea, Abdominal Pain, Fatigue, Vomiting
Doesn't that all sound fun?? Ok, my intention is not at all to scare you away from taking supplements. It's to educate you that supplements need to be recommended by a PRACTITIONER. Someone who can assess your individual body for nutritional deficiencies.
I recently worked with an individual that tested well for Garlic. What do I mean tested well? In my practice, I use a series of reflex type points to assess for tenderness, based on a scale of 0 to 10. Until you get on someone's table and experience it, it really is hard to believe, but what we are looking for is tenderness based on inflammation and lymph congestion. For this individual, she responded quite well to garlic. Pretty basic, huh? But here's the thing. An individual Garlic clove contains approximately 4 mg of allium sativum, the magical anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties. In testing her with a tincture, meaning a dropper, she responded well. A tenderness point that was at a 9 dropped to a 5. The tincture contains approximately 5 mg of allium sativum. When testing a blend of Garlic (500 mg) mixed with Vitamin C (180 mg) and Mulberry Leaf (10mg), her original point of a 9 reduced to a 1. Her body was CRAVING Garlic with those supplemental nutrients. So much so that she needed a dose 125 times stronger than a single clove of Garlic. For a temporary, monitored dosage.
With my clients, I don't just send them off to Walmart or GNC to buy their supplements. Dosage is important. Strength is important. The body's ability to ABSORB is important. Otherwise, you're just taking supplements that aren't doing anything. AKA wasting money because some magic marketing made you think that supplement would make you feel better or be healthier. There's one other key component that I haven't touched on yet.
SOURCING. Where did that garlic come from? How about the Vitamin C? Was it derived from food? Is it synthetic? Does that make a difference? Unfortunately sometimes we can't get away from synthetic. I don't like it, but it is what it is. I aim to minimize that in my practice by working with brands I TRUST. It isn't something that happens overnight, and just because I trust a company today doesn't mean I'll trust them tomorrow. As much as some companies work to build a reputation and stay true to their purpose, companies are businesses. And just like we saw with Mark Sisson selling Primal Kitchen to Kraft Heinz, supplement companies can be sold too. (Don't worry, Mark. I support it, and I hope Kraft doesn't eff with your products - good for you!). If you're really interested in learning more about sourcing, I think this article by Natural Stacks (LOVE) is fantastic. Find the article HERE. Please note they are of course supporting their own products, many of which I take or have taken, but again - BEFORE TAKING A SUPPLEMENT, WORK WITH A PRACTITIONER THAT SPECIALIZES IN NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES.
One more little bit of advice. "What about those websites where I can by supplements, but I take a quiz that tells me what supplements I need?". I'm not here to say those companies are bad. I think the intentions are great. But remember what I said earlier about absorbing? If you aren't absorbing it, what's the point? You can have seemingly great digestion, but maybe you aren't processing fatty acids well, so why take that fish oil? Or maybe you do well with fatty acids, but your liver isn't detoxing well. What if your liver can't process some of those supplements...? You see where I'm going with this?
If you take anything away from this article, I hope the next time you pick up a supplement, whether it's at Walmart or Whole Foods, you consider talking to a professional about it. The market isn't really regulated, and most importantly, supplements AND pharmaceutical drugs don't always make contraindications clear. Please do your research before taking any medication or supplement, and talk to your medical professional about contraindications and nutrient depletions associated with any prescriptions!
If you have a question, feel free to drop me a line! Always happy to chat!