Are you over-supplementing?

Being raised on a small family farm where the budget was low and the workload was high everything had to have a purpose.  I always wanted a horse yet my dad would reply, “those are just hay burners” meaning they didn’t have a farm purpose aside from eating hay, a valuable resource for other animals.   I give this scenario to show you the thought, “what is the purpose” is nailed into my head and now transferred to my current position of prescribing natural medicine as, “what is the purpose of that supplement?”

The purpose of this blog is to talk to you about over supplementation.  Recommending discernment and moderation with your natural prescriptions either self or practitioner prescribed.  

Now I ask you the question, what is the purpose of your Natural supplementation?

During visits I ask what supplements are you taking and why.  The common response to why is, “I don’t know” or “I heard it was good for me”.  I further question I ask is; does it help you with the common response of “I don’t know”.  I think these responses are fair.  We take things because we want to feel good, natural medicine agents are generally recognized as safe and have helped someone for something, so why not?

Here are some reasons why not.

In my clinical practice I have seen Vitamin B6 & B12 toxicity.  It has presented in cases as burning and tingling throughout nerve endings of skin and generalized anxiety.  With these vitamins being water soluble it was easy to remove the symptoms by removing the supplementation.  B vitamins are common in may supplements, fortified drinks and intravenous cocktails. 

In my practice I have seen elevated laboratory studies of Vitamin D, a fat soluble hormone.  No clinical signs were present however the mother was nursing and there was a definite concern for the infant.    

In my practice I have seen a pregnant woman have seizures any time she took a multi-vitamin with Folic acid added.

I ask of you to think twice about what you take and why.  To avoid excess or improper supplementation the following could be applied.

Rely on proper nutrition from food sources.  Fresh and healthy food has even more to offer than nutrients, they contain anti-oxidants, enzymes, flavors for proper digestion and assimilation and fresh prana.  I find it is pretty easy to get 25 mg of iron from foods and it doesn’t come with the common constipating side effect many people experience from the pill forms.  Plus you’ll need an extra pill of fiber and a laxative to compare to what a nice serving of prunes can offer.  Herbs should be in moderation, example juicing ginger and turmeric.  I’ve seen hot flashes come from too much ginger especially in dry climates as well as Turmeric drying out patients constitution.

Check to make sure ingredients are not the same among your supplement bottles.  For example an eye care formula, menopausal formula, and protein powder all could have Vitamin A, B, or E added to them.  If you add them up it might be at a toxic level of intake.

Analyze if you feel better taking your current supplements or are you seeing results given you have taken them for an adequate amount of time? If not, consider removing them (if prescribed, first ask your provider if removal is safe) and see if you feel better than introducing one at a time journaling how you feel as you introduce them back into your regimen.

As a naturopathic doctor I am so happy when I get to take someone off a supplement, knowing they are feeling better and the product is no longer needed.  There is a time and place for natural medicine to be continued or rotated with a similar product.  Keep in mind that our bodies change, our environment change therefore our needs change.  One of my favorite ND’s, the late Dr. Bill Mitchell always recommended vitamin holidays.  I do too.