Are your supplements doing more harm than good?

I met with a friend the other day and while sipping our chai tea she asked me about what supplements she should take. Sure, it sounds like a simple little question but without a full health history what might appear as a simple question can grow rather quickly! So rather than me suggesting something generic like fish oil and a multi, I asked her why she is currently taking her supplements? What are they for? And how long are supposed to be taken? This caused a curve ball … a bunch of “no ideas, the guy at the shop told me to and it was on special” were the replies.

In my opinion, supplements should be treated with the same respect as pharmaceutical medications. Supplements have special times to be taken (and to be avoided), some are best in combination with other supplements or food and others should be avoided completely. Some can be taken long term, others are best for a short period of time.

My best advice, and I’m sure I’m not the only practitioner suggesting this… review your supplements AT LEAST every 6 months – take them to your naturopath and go through each product. Keep a little supplement diary and note down what they are for, what will they improve and in what timeframe should you see changes?

I promise, with this little bit of information you will quickly become your Naturopath’s favourite student!

1. Find a practitioner you love and stay with them: This one can be a hard one, especially financially but I promise you will get much better results when your treatment plan is developed and followed through with a practitioner.  I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but speak with your local health food store. These days many stores have a full-time Naturopath who will create client files and keep track of what you are taking.

2. Always Always Always check with your GP, Pharmacist and Naturopath if you are taking pharmaceutical medications BEFORE purchasing supplements. Even fish oils need to be avoided with some medications.

3. Just because it’s brilliant for the first month doesn’t mean you need to take it for all the months: This is something I often see in clinic… a client was prescribed iron or zinc 11 months ago and happily buys it every month just because. As our body, the seasons and health changes – so should our products.

4. Read the bottle but consult your practitioner: Marketing is a wonderful wonderful thing… people are always busy, tired and stressed, which is why there are so many products marking to improve those areas! There is a reason why Practitioner Only products tend to have simple bottles and plain branding, there is no need for tricky marketing when the product is simply right.

5. Store your supplements correctly: when buying a new product or one that is prescribed from your practitioner read the bottle for storage instructions: some prefer the fridge, others a dark pantry and most need to avoid heat. This is because each product on the Australian market has been tested for stability, to ensure that what you are taking is actually what you think you are taking.

6. Even though supplements have their place…. there is nothing like a fabulous wholefood diet!

Health and Happiness,

Alyce x

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