Over the years I have had a number of my patients ask me about nutritional supplements as it is a common practice for Naturopathic Doctors to recommend various nutraceuticals in order to help improve their patients’ health.
Recently the availability of many supplements has exploded and people can now purchase their supplements online, in health boutiques, pharmacies, Costco and grocery stores in addition to Naturopathic Doctors or health food stores.
It can be incredibly overwhelming and truthfully, it can also be harmful.
Just because a supplement is considered ‘natural’ and ‘non-pharmaceutical’, does NOT mean that it is always safe or healthy.
There are many things to consider when purchasing supplements.
Quality, Price and Convenience are all very important, as are Drug/Nutrient/Herb interactions.
Quality is crucial to the effectiveness of the supplement, and unfortunately, often the price of a supplement dictates the quality. The saying “you get what you pay for” is often very true with high-quality supplements. Reputable supplement companies adhere to GMP (good manufacturing practices) and often use 3rd party testing to ensure the quality of the product. These increase the cost of the supplement, but also the efficacy.
Before you buy a supplement off the shelf or online, please ask yourself “Are the people selling the supplements educated, do they know about the products? Do they understand the possible interactions between supplements and medications?
St Johns Wort can reduce the efficacy of the birth control pill leading to unwanted pregnancies or interact negatively with anti-depressant medications.
Curcumin/Turmeric and Omega-3’s can interact with blood thinning medications leading to bleeding concerns.
Weight loss products can interact with blood pressure medications causing cardiac risk.
I believe that supplements can be a great addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle, but they are not without risk. So, please, when you are purchasing supplements don’t simply go on price or convenience. You and your health deserve the best and so I recommend seeking out educated practitioners and high-quality products to improve and maintain your health.