By: Dr. LaDonna Rocha, Naturopath
The last few years have made all of us a little more aware of our health and wellness, in varying degrees. Many people have started eating more intentionally, exercising more frequently and even tossing back a few supplements here and there. One of the changes I’ve seen most as a naturopathic physician is the length of supplement lists. Almost everyone seems to have added a multivitamin, maybe some omega 3, but some people come into my office with a list of 20+ vitamins and supplements. It might be the expression on my face that causes them to frequently ask, “Is this too much?”
While I admire their willingness to implement healthy strategies, there are three things I try to impart to my clients in regards to supplementation.
Quality & Source:
As an herbalist and a self-titled “purist” when it comes to supplementation, I always prefer you get the necessary vitamins and minerals from the first source of medicine–your food! Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of healthy (organic if possible) whole foods provides just about everything you need. However, that isn’t always the magic solution. Busy schedules, food aversions and more can reduce the chances of us getting all of our calcium from those leafy greens! When choosing a supplement, watch out for fillers and synthetic ingredients. The closer to nature, the better!
Here’s the biggest secret in supplementation:
If your digestive pH balances are out of sync, your body is passing up those expensive supplements, whether it’s the organic veggies or the 2-a-day supplement! The upper and lower digestive tract need to be working together and at the right speed in order to absorb the nutrition you’re providing. Imbalances create an acidic or alkali shift which carries a whole set of problems for each of the five patterns it creates. These issues can include indigestion, constipation, loose stools, parasites, mold and bacterial overgrowth, just to name a few. Identifying these imbalances and patterns is as easy as a 5-minute test, and supplementing with certain calcium formulas.
Now for the question I wish people asked more frequently:
“Is it possible to get too much of a vitamin or mineral?” Answer: Absolutely.
One of my favorite professors paraphrased “the difference between a cure and a poison is dosage,” and he couldn’t have been more right. It concerns me how often I see people giving dangerous recommendations for vitamins and minerals, and even supplements like colloidal silver. For one, in 25 years of studies and various medical fields, I’ve never heard “to bowel sensitivity” used as a measurement. That should be red flag #1.
Second, keep in mind, your liver must process everything you take in. Supplements do not get a “proceed to the nearest railroad” card and skate right past your liver. Harvard Health Publishing recently posted an article regarding the risks of taking potentially unsafe amounts of vitamin D (>4,000 IU daily vs the recommended 600-800 IU daily). Risk factors include increased falls and fractures (particularly in older women), hypercalcemia (which creates deposits in arteries and soft tissue) and an increase in the risk of kidney stones in some.
So. where do you get started? Now is the perfect time to get ahead of the change of season, write out that list of supplements and bring it to your next appointment. We can help identify these areas for improvement and make sure you’re getting what your body needs without stomping on your liver (or your wallet) or having to guess at a huge area of your health support.
Dr. LaDonna Rocha, Naturopath | LaDonnaRochaNaturopath.com