We are all victims to marketing that values profit over people.
For years, you’ve chosen our supplements based on advice from a friend because it worked for them, an Instagram ad, or just perusing the supplement aisle and perhaps guessing. We go to the internet to get information instead of our health provider and look at all the current trends and fads.
But why do we do this? Isn’t there a better way to know what I need?
Western doctors are not trained in supplementation and a lot of health practitioners are not either. I see most of them utilizing some sort of health questionnaire which oftentimes if you are looking at which neurotransmitters you are secreting, might be a better option than running labs.
I want to remind you that you are a sacred being. You are different and if you have siblings, you more than likely understand that even though you may share similar genetics, you sleep differently, you digest differently, etc.
Also, the power that created the body can heal the body. This consciousness is a supercomputer and the intelligence knows how to prioritize, it sends signals based on our environment and inner ecosystem. Unfortunately, our soil is nutrient deficient and we cannot, in today’s world, get the nutrients we need from our food. I am sad about this too. But instead of being in denial, we can all make the time to figure out what our body needs at this moment in time, for us to feel great, be energized, clear mind, and all the other things we want and value for ourselves.
Is it high time to raise the bar on your supplement regimen? I think yes. Here are some misconceptions I hear from my patients all the time when they come to see me:
1. You don’t need personalized supplements if you eat whole foods.
As I had just mentioned, I WISH we could get all the nutrients we need from food alone. But for many reasons, our modern agricultural methods have been stripping our soil of key nutrients. Many governments have tested this and there is no arguing it. Also, it’s the way we cook our food, too, where the nutritional value is often compromised. Also, if you have a symptom or a diagnosis, it’s critical to get the number of targeted nutrients to correct that underlying imbalance. Because of this, we just can’t eat 30 pounds of broccoli.
2. The recommended dosage for supplements is sufficient for everyone.
Most of the recommended dosages for a supplement are based on what a “healthy” person would need to maintain health. These are coming from your governmental statistics but most of us do not want to eat 2,000 calories/per day for many reasons. So the amount of a particular nutrient we each need is completely unique and I like to stress that you are unique, your current state of health and well-being is unique, and therefore just with anything, your supplement regimen should be individualized.
3. More is always better.
I grew up in the United States, so I remember clearly in the 90s when all the marketing turned to 25% more, etc. and it became ingrained in our brains that more is better. With supplements, I believe that you want to be precise and only take the ones and the amount that is necessary for you, at this moment in time. Remember, more can sometimes be dangerous and wreak havoc on the body.
4. If the label says ‘natural,’ it must be safe and good for me.
Sadly, the term “natural” is fairly meaningless in relation to the safety or effectiveness of a supplement. It’s a marketing scheme to have you buy the product.
5. Supplements that are healthy for you today will always be healthy for you.
Health isn’t linear; its fluid and constantly influenced by lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, travel, stress, friends and partners, hygiene, and lifestyle habits. For this reason, two people can respond in opposite ways to the same food or supplement—even if they have the same DNA, as I mentioned above.
This is why if you do not have a diagnosis, I test every year or often 2x/a year for my biohacker patients. I want to know which supplements I want to recommend that are relevant to the state of your health right now. You are dynamic and so should your wellness approach.
Also, as our knowledge about supplements evolves (technology, lab testing, research, etc.), it’s only natural that our routines should evolve alongside it. When it comes to supplements, four things matter: what you need, why you need them, when you need them, and how much. Total body health is personal, and your supplement routine should be too!
6. It is fine to take supplements alongside normal medicines.
Because supplements do not need a “prescription”, and many of them claim to be “natural,” there is a widespread misconception that they cannot interact with prescribed medication. In reality, many of these products contain active ingredients that might interfere with other drugs. Supplements might, therefore, boost or reduce the effects of pharmaceutical drugs.
Whether you’re taking a daily aspirin to protect against heart disease or you’re on an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, the supplements you’re taking could interfere with or enhance the effects of your medications. You should always share with your physician and pharmacist a list of any supplements you are currently taking to help avoid these negative interactions.
What would be even better? Work with me (or someone like me) so you are not guessing, so they are looking into any possible drug-herb interactions and can document and guide you on how to be successful.
7. Taking a multivitamin can make up for a poor diet and prevent disease.
Food is always the best prescription for needed nutrients AND as I had mentioned earlier in this blog post, is that we can’t get all the nutrients from our food. I just want to make sure that you are not thinking you can replace supplementation for eating well-balanced, nutrient-dense meals. Dietary supplements are intended to supplement the diet, not replace it, hence the name. 🙂
8. You can’t overdose on vitamins.
Not only could you be overdoing it, but you might also even damage some of your vital organs in the process. Too much vitamin A can affect your liver and, in pregnant moms, can lead to birth defects in their babies; excess vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage; and too much vitamin C can turn the famous antioxidant into a pro-oxidant (which damages body cells), not to mention diarrhea.
Many of my patients are overtaking some supplements while undertaking others. We absolutely do not need to guess anymore.
9. Supplements are tightly regulated.
Absolutely not! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not determine whether dietary supplements are safe and effective before they hit the marketplace. Instead, you the consumer are at the mercy of the manufacturer, aka, marketing and branding.
There are safeguards in place, yes. Both the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) monitor label information to ensure product claims aren’t misleading, but they are pretty understaffed and a lot of damage can be done before the FDA and FTC can get involved. It is my hope that this changes soon. The good news is that people, as we do, take it upon ourselves to help.
There are a small group of watchdog organizations, including U.S. Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, and the National Science Foundation, offering seals of approval to products that are manufactured properly and contain the ingredients listed on the label. Those groups do not determine if they are effective, however, and that’s why working with me can be very beneficial. I often tell my patients to “stay in your lane”. Let me do what I’m good at, so you don’t have to spend time endlessly researching what may not be reliable information in the first place.
10. Supplements are never necessary and a waste of your money!
I do get there are “purists” out there. I have absolutely NO judgment on how you live your life. But please know that dietary supplements may be beneficial for certain populations and help manage various conditions. So it’s always hard to see such blanket statements and generalized beliefs. Here are some examples I’ve seen in my clinic:
Women who lose a lot of iron due to heavy menstrual bleeding may need an additional iron
Menopausal women may need extra calcium and vitamin D
Someone on a calorie-restricted diet who may benefit from a multivitamin and mineral
Someone who is allergic to milk may benefit from calcium and vitamin D
A vegan who may benefit from taking vitamin B12
Pregnant moms who benefit from taking folic acid
11. You should take vitamins and other supplements on an empty stomach.
There are 2 kinds of vitamins, water and fat-soluble. The water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and will be absorbed by the body at almost any time of the day, regardless of what’s in your stomach. But the 4 fat-soluble vitamins—A, D, E, and K can only be absorbed with fat. So if you are taking a multivitamin that contains a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s best to take it with a little food that contains some fat. The last thing I’ll say is that many of my patients find that taking a supplement on an empty stomach makes them a bit nauseous, so you will want to know that taking supplements on an empty stomach is definitely a myth.
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