Are Vitamins Good For You?

Vitamins & supplements yet again in the spotlight! And in some respects, rightly so, I thought it might be helpful to many of you to have a Naturopath’s opinion, considering the level of training we have in this area.

Are Vitamins A Waste Of Money?

  • I believe that lifestyle changes which address – food, exercise, sleep, stress management & environmental exposures should be first line treatment, where ever possible and should come before any supplementation is considered. This currently not the norm for many health care providers, recommending drug therapies or supplements first. 
  • When we buy off the counter vitamins or drugs for that matter, we are at risk of taking things we know little about in terms of how they influence the body, be that short or long term.
  • It should be a government responsibility to ensure that supplement suppliers have strict guidelines to ensure that no contaminants are present and that they have what they actually say they have on the label – apparently this is a US issue not an Australian one.
  • As a consumer, reading an article on some health issue and then buying a supplement based on that information, can be ineffective – this style of self prescribing usually does little to assist, and can do harm, because the whole picture has not been assessed.
  • I believe testing is ideal prior to supplementing when possible, this allows for very targeted treatment, saving people time and money.  Medicare have restricted GP’s from running too many of these tests,  paying “out of pocket”, is sometimes the only answer, but well worth the spend.
  • Unfortunately there are no regulations around who can give vitamin /supplementation advise – I see many clients who have been advised, for example, to take a calcium supplement and are put on the wrong form, in high doses, unfortunately one of the major retail supplement brands are selling a “1 tablet per day dose” even though the research shows that this is not the way to go and there are risks in doing so – this is convenient to you as a consumer, but our health improves by taking what we need, not what we want.
  • “Practitioner only” product suppliers, are making vitamins and supplements which meet the need and demands of practitioners (usually naturopathic or nutritional practitioners), understandably this standard is generally, far higher than found in retail products.

Are Vitamins Worth Taking?

So lets take a look if supplements are worth taking. Many people are eating a whole food diet and still have deficiencies and inefficiencies, contra to what is believed.  There are many examples where diet is not enough to get all your vitamins and minerals.  Here are some examples:

  • Iodine supplementation is needed, to treat a thyroid issue when a pathology test has determined a deficiency in this nutrient. Currently in Australia doctors place people on a drug, usually thyroxine, and iodine is not normally checked. Thyroid hormones cannot be made without this mineral. Research shows us that Australians are becoming deficient in this mineral – why its not in our diets in anther conversation.
  • Vitamin D – there are so many repercussions to our health if we have insufficient levels that it is ridiculous,  testing has been limited in checking this vitamin unfortunately, which is dangerous for those who won’t/can’t pay to check their levels. Unfortunately ten minutes of sunlight won’t do the job for many. Even more importantly those with allergies, mood disorders, cancer, cardiovascular risks have a higher need – levels should be checked, to assess your need. Some people have genetic issues in this area and the only way around it, is to supplement.
  • Vitamin B12 – is a must for vegans and can be very low in those with digestive issues, again it should be measured and of course if unable to be rectified with diet then it must be supplemented – otherwise the result maybe, fatigue, mood issues, concentration issues, neurological issues etc.
  • What about magnesium, this mineral plays many roles in the body, many people report improvements on supplementing, including restless legs, fatigue – and often these people are eating a whole food diet, but for some reason (again another conversation) its just not enough.
  • CoQ10 – is a nutrient which is depleted for those taking any statin drugs (given to people to lower their cholesterol levels), as a result the research suggests taking coq10 with statins. Many people are unaware of this fact. Coq10 has a poor bioavailability, so the quality of this product is important.
  • Probiotics – Research also supports a course of probiotics after antibiotic use? If you take triple antibiotic therapy (usually to treat H Pylori infection)  research shows that using probiotics at the same time improves outcomes!

There are many more examples such as these.

DR ROSS WALKER’s Article – The Attack On Complementary Medicine!

Click here for the full article below are a few snippets:

“Australian supplements, however, are made to pharmaceutical grade and are under strict regulation. There are no contaminants and the ingredients written on the bottle are actually what you get…….”

“The FSM and other conservative researchers, not in the field of Complementary Medicine research do not know the difference between synthetic and natural vitamin E. Synthetic vitamin E has been shown in a number of trials to be of no benefit, and in some cases, possibly even harmful……”

 “It is estimated that there are over 100,000 deaths a year from the appropriate prescription of pharmaceutical preparations; two thirds of which comes from blood thinners and diabetic treatments…… It is estimated that every year in the US there are 20 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions written. We hear often of significant side-effects from the long-term use of commonly prescribed pharmaceutical preparation such a statin drugs, peptic ulcer preparations and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, to name a few.”

“It is my opinion that complementary medicine keeps healthy people healthier and also makes orthodox therapies work so much better………..it is unbelievably hypocritical of the gatekeepers of so-called scientific information, the FSM to criticise a field they have little or no understanding about without even bothering to clean up their extremely flawed backyard.”

Concluding The NATUROPATHIC PERSPECTIVE

Many may be wasting their money buying supplements they know little about, in terms of quality, dose and correct targeting of treatment. In my clinical experience this untargeted approach is commonly not achieving the desired outcome. People also spend tons on dieting supplements and multilevel marketing supplements, some of which are of poor quality and over priced, but there are some which are genuinely great products, but most consumers do not have the ability to assess this, nor the skill to understand exactly, the effects these have on their body.

When vitamins and supplements, are prescribed by a professional, who understands nutritional biochemistry, where appropriate pathology testing is run, using Australian practitioner only suppliers, who are trusted and kept abreast of research, supplementation becomes a very effective strategy. Blanket statements which place all vitamins and supplements in the same basket, becomes a problem.This may direct people to only use drug therapies, and as Dr Ross states above, this can have dangerous consequences –we would be wise to avoid media miss information, which may distract us from – improving the quality of out lives, preventing disease and relieving symptoms, with safe and effective treatments, some of which are vitamins and supplements.

 

“Nutrition is not “alternative, not complementary” it is a basic requirement of health and central to good medicine. Proper application of nutritional medicine can prevent disease, save lives, and in the long term, is profoundly more economical than virtually any other medical discipline”

– Professor Ian E Brighthope

Natural Health Medicine

 

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