Recently in our office we had an incident where one of our nutritionists recommended a certain supplement for a client. As many people do, she took this information and went to amazon.com and ordered one based on GREAT reviews! The supplement not only had the main ingredient, but additional ones as well…and in large quantities. Now for some micronutrients, a supplement with a high amount may not be a problem, however, there are other micronutrients that can cause problems for some, because they are in the wrong form or counteract with medications or their health condition.
For this client, the added ingredient did have an upper limit that she was exceeding with the dosage recommended and she began to experience adverse reactions such as nausea, vomiting and dizziness. She quickly reached out to us for answers and after a little bit of research, our nutritionist found out that this specific supplement had been linked to issues of acute toxicity with one of the additional ingredients. Understandably, the client was frustrated, scared and relieved all at once. She stopped taking the supplement and her symptoms improved.
We wanted to share this story with you because supplements are tricky! Even if you can identify, read, and pronounce all the ingredients, it still might not be helpful to you and may actually cause harm. It is always best to consult with a trained professional, such as a nutritionist, dietitian, or naturopathic doctor for a few reasons:
- They have been trained with helping people identify proper supplements for their health benefit
- They have access to databases that provide more in depth understanding and research on the supplements
- They consider DNIs: drug/nutrient interactions. Some supplements may be GREAT for one person, but harmful to another based on their prescriptions
- All supplements aren’t created equal. Depending on the form of the nutrient, your body may or may not be able to even use it (what we call bioavailability). They will help you figure out how to make sure your money is spent on a supplement that can be absorbed, metabolized, and used.
- Just like supplements are not created equal, nor are the companies that manufacture them. We are specialists and know if the supplements really contain what they say they do (you’d be surprised how many don’t pass third party testing!)
- There is a lot of talk out there about supplements that fight cancer, stop aging, increase mood and attention etc. Those trained with supplements can help you identify which ones are supported in research, which ones have helped their clients, and which ones are a waste of money!
So our take home message is: before choosing a supplement, talk to someone who is trained. It might be “all natural” or “safe” or even “promotes cancer fighting cells!”…but it might not be the best fit for YOU!
Written by Brooke Brandeberry, MS, CN, LMHCA