Monday, 24 April 2017 20:50

Tips for Choosing Supplements Wisely

We all know the vast array of supplements on the market today. It seems that new ones are launched every day and there is more and more marketing lingo that promises to save your health.
But you are a savvy health-conscious consumer. You want to make sure you're making wise choices with your health (and money).
Here are eight expert tips for you when choosing supplements:
Tip #1: If you’re in a country that licenses or pre-approves supplements (like I am in Canada), then make sure you’re getting the real thing, and not some illegally imported bootleg of a product.

This is your health, and it’s important enough to make sure you’re getting a product that at least meets the minimum requirements in your country. There are always recalls and safety alerts issued for contaminated supplements or products that don’t even contain what they say they do.

  Don't get me wrong! This health authority approval is not a perfect gauge of quality, but it does have some benefits worth considering.

In Canada, you would check its approval by making sure it has an 8-digit “NPN” number on the front label. This number means that the company meets the required standards (including quality standards and truthfulness of their labeling). And, if something does go wrong, there is someone who you can complain to (the company or Health Canada's MedEffect program) and who is responsible (the company).

If you’re not in a country that pre-approves supplements, make sure what you buy meets the regulations of your country. If you have to look up the company or product online or call them, please do it – don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions before you use any health products. If the only address or phone number is not in your country, then steer clear, because if something goes wrong it’s possible that nothing can be done about it.

Tip #2: Read (and heed) the warnings, cautions, and contraindications. 
You don't want a reaction, right?
Check the label for things like:
To consult a healthcare practitioner if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, or
If you have certain medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure, auto-immune disease, diabetes, ulcers, etc.), or
If you are taking certain medications (e.g. like blood thinners or immune suppressants, etc.) or
If you are taking other supplements, or
If you shouldn't take it for more than a certain length of time (e.g. 6 or 8 weeks).

Tip #3: Look at the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients for things you might be allergic to or have reacted to in the past.
Just as you would do this with foods, do this with supplements. Again, you don't want a reaction, right?
And even if you've used a product before, check it each time you buy it. Manufacturers may make changes to ingredients from time to time.
Any credible supplement company will list every active ingredient, as well as the inactive ingredients. The print may be small, but worthwhile.
Info not there? Give them a call. Most reputable companies have a toll-free number on the bottle or at the very least their website address.
PRO TIP: You can look up any Canadian NPN number on Health Canada's database here:
Tip #4: Read the labeled “Indications” or “Uses” (a.k.a. How can this product help me?).

Bullshit alert. What is the company claiming that their product can help you with? Beware of people  who tell you that this product can help you beyond what’s on the label. If they heard about it, or found it in a book, that may or may not be reliable information.
Ask for scientific studies, or look it up on credible websites that don’t make money from selling supplements (such as Examine, or the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements).

Tip #5: What “dose forms” can you get (i.e. tablets, capsules, powder, liquid, etc.)?

I personally prefer capsules. This is because tablets and caplets are not very easy to absorb because they’re compacted into a hard rock-like form that sometimes doesn't break down in your digestive system.

Powders and liquids are easier to swallow and to absorb, but they can go “off” quicker because every time you open the bottle, you’re exposing all of the contents to the oxygen, moisture and microbes in the air. They can also be difficult to get accurate dosing (especially if they need to be shaken well).

Capsules (my preferred form) are powders placed into tiny dissolvable...capsules. You can get vegan capsules or gelatin capsules. They’re not compressed, so they're more easily absorbed (they're still loose powder), and the capsule itself provides an extra layer of protection from oxidation and contamination from the air. 
The front label should mention this loud and clear. Along with how many are in each bottle.

Tip #6: How much/many do you need for a recommended dose?

This is important to keep in mind because you may not want to take several capsules per day in order to get the recommended dose. Plus, many (but not all) bottles contain a 30 day supply. This helps you see how much you need to take, as well as the real cost per serving/dose.
Read carefully.
Is the label information based on one capsule, two...maybe six? The amounts of each nutrient listed on the label may be based on each dose, or the entire daily dose. 
For example, if a label recommends you take 2 capsules per day, the active ingredient amounts listed may be the total amount in those 2 capsules, unless it says "per 1 capsule".
Yes, for this one you do need to read carefully.
Tip #7: Check the storage requirements and expiry date.

These two go hand-in-hand because the expiry date is based on how that supplement degrades over time at certain temperatures, humidity and light exposure.

If the bottle says that it should be refrigerated, make sure it’s in the fridge at the store, or shipped in a refrigerated truck. 
If it says to refrigerate after opening, then make sure once that seal is broken, you keep it in your fridge.

If it says to keep out of sunlight, make sure the store/shipping company is doing that, and that you do that too. This is sometimes why supplements are in dark or opaque bottles – to prevent sunlight from degrading it before the expiry date.
And, of course, I wouldn't recommend taking supplements past their expiry date. After this date the manufacturer does not guarantee the quality or dose of the product.

Tip #8: If you’re trying a new supplement for the first time, start slow.

Keep an eye out for both positive and negative reactions, and act accordingly.
You don’t have to dive right into a full daily dose on day 1. Try starting with half-doses, or skipping days for a week or two before ramping up to the recommended dose. 

I hope these eight tips serve you well!
Published in Deanna's Blog
Friday, 04 March 2016 19:11

Should I Take Supplements?

Some people are blessed with strong constitutions. They eat what they like, drink, smoke, don’t exercise, never take supplements and hardly ever get sick. These genetically strong individuals, however, are becoming increasingly rare.

Why Should I Take Supplements?

Food irradiation: is a food processing technique where the food is exposed to ionizing energy and radiation. However, this process also eliminates the essential nutrients, especially water soluble vitamins and antioxidants. Food irradiation is widely used in products like chicken, meats, and vegetables. This technique is approved and used in more than 40 countries worldwide.

Environmental Pollution: Everyday millions kilograms of chemicals are dumped into our environment. These wastes go to the air, water and food that we eat.

Genetically modified (GM) foods: GM foods are created to improve crop protection and improve the nutritional value. Although all GM foods you see from the market passed risk assessment, there is no long-term study indicate that they are safe to human. In fact, GM foods can cause allergic reactions in some people. In addition, rat studies have shown that consumption of GM foods increased intestinal infections and reduce immunity.

Soil depletion: Aggressive farming, acid rains, use or artificial fertilizers and synthetic pesticides have caused soil depletion. These activities deplete the essential nutrients in the soil. As a result, nutritional values of fruits and vegetables are greatly reduced.

Lifestyle: Depending on your lifestyle and behaviour, you may need nutritional supplements. For example, smoking destroys certain vitamins. Excessive alcohol consumption impairs the body's ability to absorb many nutrients and inhibits the production of digestive enzymes. Athletes, pregnant women, people who work in radioactive environment and those who work in physically demanding occupations require additional nutrients.

Stress: Stress can deplete your energy, lead to acceleration of the aging process and degenerative diseases. The symptoms of stress include fatigue, depression, panic, anxiety, loss of appetite, and insomnia.

Pesticides in foods: Pesticides are widely used to control and destroy pests. Pesticides are poisonous and reside in our foods. According to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the health benefits of fruits and vegetables are reduced by use of pesticides.

Food Processing: Processed foods are not fresh and contain fewer nutrients compared to fresh foods. Processed foods do not have live enzymes, which are necessary for digestion and metabolic function. Lack of enzymes can cause degenerative diseases. In addition, many processed foods contain refined sugar, extra salt, unhealthy fat, and chemical additives.

The following table compares the amount of each food item you would have to consume to receive an optimal daily amount of vitamin E, one of the most powerful antioxidants.

How Do I Know What Supplements I Need?

There are no completely reliable laboratory tests for determining nutritional status.

Some blood tests may be indicators for advanced nutritional disease, but none of them can detect the beginning stages of marginal deficiencies, which of course would be the best time to correct them.

Blood tests measure many things, but they can’t tell the whole story, and sometimes they are downright misleading. Why? Because the blood constantly strives to maintain a state of normalcy. Example: Calcium. Blood calcium levels may be normal even in a person with severe osteoporosis; the blood needs calcium so badly, it will rob it from the bones to get it.

Urine tests are also a problem because they only measure what the body excretes. Variations in fluid intake can greatly affect the results.

My recommendations are based on symptoms. By paying close attention to symptoms, a Holistic Nutritionist or other Holistic Health Practitioner is able to detect deficiencies and imbalances long before they show up in laboratory tests.

What You Need to Know About Supplements
Do not self diagnose – taking supplements that your body does not need can cause symptoms. It’s important to get to the root cause of the problem, which a health practitioner can help with.
If you are taking prescription medication you absolutely must work with your doctor before discontinuing any drug, and be sure your doctor has a list of the supplements you are taking
Take a high quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement
Take extra antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, E, and Selenium or a specific antioxidant formula
Take one tablespoon of flaxseed oil or one teaspoon of fish oil daily
Buy only good quality supplements – you really do get what you pay for
Take your supplements with food and water unless instructed to do otherwise
Supplements cannot take the place of a nutrient dense diet. Ensure you are getting protein with every meal, whole grains, lots of colourful fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats.
No two individuals will respond the same from taking one type of vitamin or mineral. No two metabolisms are the same and no two individuals eat the same foods or exercise the same amount, get the same sleep, are under the same amount of stress or have the same parents.
Only buy supplements from natural sources or “produced by nature”. Synthetic means artificial and anything artificial is foreign to the body.
Don’t waste your money on time-release vitamins. These products cost more and very often end up in the toilet via the stools. Not everyone’s digestive tract is able to break down the layers of waxy coatings on time-release vitamins. It’s usually more effective and cheaper to take regular vitamins several times throughout the day. (Example: Vitamin C)
Chelated basically means "firmly attached", usually to an amino acid or other organic component to aid in absorption. Chelated minerals are sometimes recommended to those who have compromised digestive systems.
Choose capsules over tablets unless otherwise recommended by your health practitioner. Capsules have the advantage of requiring little or no fillers, they are more easily digested and absorbed.
Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, F (EFAs), and Vitamin K. These vitamins can be stored in the body tissues so we can function for longer periods of time without obtaining them from the diet. If we consume more of these than the body needs, toxic levels can occur.
Water-soluble vitamins include mainly the B vitamins and vitamin C. These are not stored by the body and therefore need to be replenished regularly in the diet or with supplements.
Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) are guidelines set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council for recommended daily allowances for vitamins and minerals since 1941 originally with the intent of reducing rates of severe nutritional deficiency diseases such as scurvy. Scientific research indicates the “optimal” level for many nutrients are much higher due to factors such as environmental and lifestyle factors.
Conditions That Could Benefit from Supplementation

Nutrient deficiencies
Digestive problems
Weakened immune system
Osteoporosis/Bone health
Muscle cramps
Weight loss
Low libido
Poor memory
Intestinal disturbances
Lack of energy

And many more.

Book a consult today to learn more about what your body requires.

Published in Prevention