What you should con­sider be­fore tak­ing supplements

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Emma Tip­pett

There is so much in­for­ma­tion avail­able nowa­days re­gard­ing the ben­e­fits of dif­fer­ent vi­ta­min and herbal supplements and how we can use th­ese ‘nat­u­ral’ medicines to im­prove our health. You can type any health con­di­tion into the search engine and then act as your own health­care prac­ti­tioner and de­velop a treat­ment plan based on what you read. But can you al­ways trust the in­for­ma­tion ob­tained? Can you be cer­tain that your un­der­stand­ing of what is go­ing on in your body is ac­cu­rate?

Some food for thought on the use of supplements.

1. What does the word ‘sup­ple­ment’ mean?

When we are look­ing at a nu­tri­ent deficiency pic­ture, it makes sense to con­sider the short-term use of a sup­ple­ment to cor­rect the prob­lem. But why does the deficiency oc­cur in the first place? Ul­ti­mately, there is some­thing lack­ing within our diet and we are not sup­ply­ing our body with enough of a cer­tain nu­tri­ent. Other fac­tors to con­sider are the pos­si­bil­ity that an un­der­ly­ing health con­di­tion needs to be ad­dressed or per­haps cer­tain life­style fac­tors such as al­co­hol con­sump­tion or smok­ing are con­tribut­ing to nu­tri­ent de­ple­tion. In­creased stress can also de­plete our nu­tri­ent stores.

What’s the long-term so­lu­tion? When we choose to nour­ish our bod­ies with good qual­ity whole­foods, it is pos­si­ble to get all the nu­tri­tion needed to sup­port good health. To do this we need to be equipped with the knowl­edge of how we need to eat to ob­tain the cor­rect nu­tri­tion. Food is a com­plex source of vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and phy­to­chem­i­cals that work in syn­ergy. This means that the bioavail­abil­ity of nu­tri­ents is higher within a whole­food and our bod­ies can ab­sorb more as a re­sult.

Did you know that there is nearly 100 mg of vi­ta­min C in one or­ange? Or that in one serv­ing of kale you can ob­tain up to 150mg of cal­cium? You can sup­port bone health, nerve and mus­cle func­tion and your im­mune sys­tem by in­clud­ing th­ese foods in your diet on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

2. How do you know when enough is enough?

Just be­cause its ‘nat­u­ral’ doesn’t mean it’s al­ways safe. Ev­ery­body has dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments for cer­tain nu­tri­ents and some vi­ta­mins and min­er­als can be toxic when taken in large does. Too much zinc can re­sult



in gas­troin­testi­nal up­set and in ex­ces­sive amounts, can lead to dizzi­ness, im­mune sup­pres­sion and changes in heart­beat. It is also pos­si­ble to in­ter­fere in the bal­ance of other nu­tri­ents when sup­ple­ment­ing in iso­la­tion. Too much zinc may in­ter­fere with cop­per ab­sorp­tion and this will af­fect our iron me­tab­o­lism. Iron and cop­per are im­por­tant in red blood cell for­ma­tion and a deficiency in th­ese two min­er­als can lead to anaemia. Just be­cause its ‘nat­u­ral’ doesn’t mean it’s al­ways safe.

3. Other is­sues con­cern­ing safety.

Th­ese in­clude herb/drug in­ter­ac­tions caus­ing con­tra-in­di­ca­tions of med­i­ca­tions with cer­tain in­gre­di­ents within supplements. The use of some med­i­ca­tions and supplements to­gether can ei­ther change the ther­a­peu­tic ef­fects on the body or lead to harm­ful out­comes. The herb Hyper­icum (St John’s Wort) is a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple. This herb can­not be taken with cer­tain an­tide­pres­sants and can re­duce the ef­fi­ciency of the oral con­tra­cep­tive pill. It is im­por­tant to know all the in­ter­ac­tions if you take med­i­ca­tion and are con­sid­er­ing the use of self-med­i­cat­ing with supplements.

4. The lack of reg­u­la­tion within the vi­ta­min sup­ple­ment in­dus­try is con­cern­ing.

In March 2015, the New York Attorney Gen­eral re­vealed that the qual­ity of supplements was highly vari­able. One study found that 79% of supplements tested did not con­tain what the la­bels claimed. Lack of reg­u­la­tions mean that you can’t al­ways be cer­tain of the in­gre­di­ents listed or those con­tained that may not be listed. The source of raw ma­te­ri­als ob­tained in pro­duc­tion is also not al­ways dis­closed.

The ideal sit­u­a­tion to con­sider the use of supplements is un­der the guid­ance of a GP or nu­tri­tion­ist. As well as tests, other fac­tors are taken into con­sid­er­a­tion, such as di­etary and life­style changes nec­es­sary to achieve good health. There is a time and place for the short-term use of supplements but nu­tri­tion through food should al­ways be the pri­or­ity when build­ing the foun­da­tions of good health.

Emma Tip­pett, is a Natur­opath with a special in­ter­est in hor­mones and in all ar­eas of di­ges­tion be­liev­ing that gut health is linked to the func­tion of ev­ery body sys­tem. Emma is based in her prac­tice ‘Em­pow­ered Health’ in Sur­rey Hills, Vic­to­ria, Aus­tralia and can be con­tacted via her web­site.

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