There is a lot of information about the benefits of various supplements, and their professed benefits are usually true – but not for everyone. What I urge you to really question is ‘why am I taking this particular supplement?’, and ‘when will I know I have had enough?’

I’m noticing more clients and friends taking supplements for extended periods of time. Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin D currently have immense popularity in my circle. Some supplements were originally suggested by a health professional, others bought at the supermarket and perhaps without full evaluation.

Many factors need to be considered when taking a supplement, such as:

  • the quality of that product
  • additives
  • dosage
  • Time of day it is taken
  • if it is taken with other supplements
  • how long to take it
  • if there is a nutrient deficiency
  • interactions with prescription medications

Although many over-the-counter supplements do no real harm (or good!), others can lead to an excess within the body. The symptoms of an excess can often be similar to a deficiency. More is not always better, as the minerals in the body need to be kept at a fine balance. An example of this is the dynamic between zinc and copper. Zinc is required for a healthy immune system against viruses, however, if the body’s copper levels are too high then it is unable to utilise the zinc.

When nutrients are taken in supplement form at the same time, some will fight for absorption in the body. Therefore, you won’t reap the full benefit of either supplement. For example, magnesium should ideally not be taken with vitamin D. This can be easily remedied by taking one at breakfast and the other at Dinner, for example. Other supplements benefit from being taken together, like calcium and vitamin D.

Some supplements do reduce symptoms but don’t address the underlying issue. For example, magnesium can help improve sleep, bowel habits and relaxation, but supplementation can be like a Band-Aid for the possible causes which could be poor diet, eating too much sugar, or not managing stress. Furthermore, these people may have low calcium levels, and magnesium supplementation may be exacerbating the low calcium levels.

‘Real food’ is the safest way to obtain your vitamins and minerals, unless you have proof to indicate that you need a targeted supplement or regime. Our bodies have an innate intelligence and will take what they need from the foods we eat. Many modern real foods are lower in nutrient volume due to nutrient depletion in the soil by industrialised farming methods. Foods fortified with minerals and vitamins may look good, but are not necessarily absorbable. One case is vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin which needs fat for absorption, and wouldn’t be absorbed if consumed in orange juice for example.

Targeted supplementation, which is needed and reviewed regularly, can be highly beneficial to many individuals.

Please remember, we can’t supplement our way to health if we don’t eat well, sleep well and have good hydration.

Please contact me if you would like to review your supplement needs or have any questions. I offer a free 20 minute consultation to discuss your unique situation.