The Multi On Supplements
After cleaning out my house recently, I was a little shocked to see all supplements I experimented with while I was studing Nutritional Medicine! Of course at the time of learning the ins and outs of specific nutrients I wanted to find out for myself what effect they actually had and being a student, I always bought a supplement if it was on sale. So now as a qualified Nutritionist that actively uses nutrients to achieve therapeutic effects when working with some of my clients, I wanted to share with you 10 things to consider before taking a nutrition supplement.
1. Wholefood vs Supplements – surely if you eat a wholefood diet you will recieve adequate nutrients and won’t need supplements? As much as I love this theory and 100% advocate for a wholefood diet rich in nutrient dense foods, Austrlian soils are quite depleted in crucial minerals such as zinc, boron, magnesium and selenium, meaning the produce grown in them also misses out. Other agricultural practices such as the use of herbicides & pesticides can also block certain nutrients from being absorbed within the plant. With this in mind, put extra effort in to sourcing your produce from organic growers and use every chance you eat to nourish yourself with colourful foods loaded with nutrients. This might be a little more expensive initially but puts you in a better chance of not needing to spend your money on supplements (or medications) in the future.
2. Cheaper vs Expensive – you get what you pay for here! For example, a cheap fish oil supplement found in the bargain bin at the supermarket varies greatly compared to a fish oil from a reputable company that sources their ingredients from sustainable, clean waters and avoids using fish that has been exposed to chemicals and antibiotics. Other cheaper vitamin & mineral supplements may be less absorbable or need further activation once in the body before actually being able to be utilised.
3. Australian vs Overseas products – Australian products have been through a stringent process to meet strict regulations by the TGA (therapeutic goods administration). Some ingredients from overseas suppliers have been banned or deemed poor quality and therefore are only available to us online. You can ensure a supplement is of Australian standards by locating the Aust L or Aust R marking on the package.
4. Medical Industry – Where Doctors historically didn’t advocate for the use of supplements in their practice, they are now more likely to make general recommendations to assist in combating such things as inflammation, joint pain, boosting the immune system as well as for sleep and GUT health. Ask your GP to work alongside your Nutritionist for a holistic approach to your health.
5. Safety – Although very safe, some nutraceuticals can interact with certain medications lessening or increasing their effects. There are also other reasons to cease the use of particular nutrients such as ones that promote blood flow when preparing to go into surgery. It can also be beneficial to stop taking some supplements before going for blood tests as they may interfere with the results.
6. Dosage – Crucial to the efficacy of nutraceuticals is making sure you get the correct dosage! Recieving adequate amounts of the nutrient is essential to the supplement having any therapeutic effect. Doseage recommendations on the packaging are generally conservative and based on an individual in good health. Professional advice for dosage is far more specific in order to correct specific deficiencies or overcome a particular condition or ailment for an individual.
7. Individual – Absolute paramount to all holisitc nutrition practices is to take into consideration that each person is an individual and their ability to digest, absorb and utilise nutrients is different. A person’s constitution, health status & body composition will greatly effect what dose of a nutrient will work for them.
8. Nutrient suckers – There are other factors that need to be taken into account when taking supplements. If the person is under stress, a vigorous exerciser, pregnant, breast feedng, a big drinker, smoker or exposed to toxins then this will have a huge influence on doseage and in which way the supplement needs to be taken to be the most effective.
9. GUT health – the digestive system is our gateway to our body receiving nutrients in any form and therefore should be at the forefront in any treatment protocol. If you suspect your digestive system is not working optimally, chances are you won’t be getting full advantage of any supplements you are taking.
10. Where should you get advice? – The regulations for recommending and dispensing supplements is quite loose in Australia which is why they can be sold in many retail outlets. Some nutraceutical brands pride themselves on being “practitioner only”, meaning a consumer can only have access to their product if a a qualified health professional has made a recommendation. If you want to ensure you are getting a quality supplement that is going to work specifically for you, ask your health practitioner about their qualifications and insurance with regards to recommending supplements.
Seems like a lot ot think about for a box of nutrients! Keep in mind, supplements are a powerful tool that can assist our bodies to overcome health concerns and even reach optimal health but only if taken correctly for the individual. Talk to your health practitioner and get the right advice for you!