Supplement use in Healthcare

It is widely accepted- and true- that there can be health benefits with dietary additions, vitamin & mineral supplements and nutraceuticals. Yet, if you get online you’ll find there is no shortage of claims and advertisements on them as ‘miracle’ cures

Often times, people feel like they have to navigate this information all by themselves because they don’t have anyone on their health team that is knowledgeable (or has the time) to offer insight, support or recommendations specific to their needs.

While it can be easy to try things bought online or at natural food stores with a “see what happens” approach, doing so can actually be challenging (and occasionally dangerous) to your health. This is because what’s right for you & your health situation might be much different from what might be right for someone else. Alternatively, what the product might do in some situations and physical environments, may be very different from what it does in yours.

Simply knowing about the reported health benefits of a product, supplement, vitamin or nutraceutical isn’t enough to know if it will be beneficial (or harmful) to you.  As an example, supplemental iron can be lifesaving for someone with iron-deficiency anemia. For someone else, supplemental iron can be toxic (and even lethal). Another example is melatonin. Many people use it as a sleeping aid, but did you know that for many people the effective dosages of melatonin differ and that too much can have side effects?

That’s why it really is important to have someone on your health team that understands supplements AND your health.

As an integrated clinic, ALL the providers at Nature Cures Clinic are educated on standard and alternative therapies, including common supplements. We make the time to discuss your diet, review your supplements (including vitamins, minerals and nutraceuticals), suggest supplementation when appropriate and support you in learning more about what you are taking, why you are taking it, and how what you are taking impacts your health, including your long-term health goals.

Check out our article “Five Tips to using supplements” 

If you are looking for a truly integrated approach to health care, with providers knowledgeable about supplements and willing to spend time assisting you in navigating them, give us a call today:  503-287-4970. Most major insurances accepted.

Five Tips to using supplements

As Integrative health care providers, we are well versed in both standard and natural medicine and recognize the value (and dangers) of self-treatment with supplements.

Frequently, our patients ask us to share insight on how to navigate the confusing world of supplements. In answer to these requests, here are our top 5 things for consumers to consider when using supplements.

1) Quality:

Not all supplements are created equally. With the financial incentives of selling supplements online and in many grocery, specialty and health food stores, lesser quality products are in wide distribution and there are few safety regulations ensuring that what is advertised is actually in the bottle at the dosages listed. Add to that the frequent presence of fillers (those ingredients listed as “other”) that too often contain hidden items like coloring agents, flow agents, and run the risk of heavy metal contaminants. Knowing which are high-quality brands is essential, but finding out which brands fit this description can be challenging. Reputable producers of supplements have had 3rd party assay’s to verify their contents, but often even this information is challenging to find. Remember, if you are getting your supplements from anyone but your health care provider, be a smart consumer and “Buyer Beware”.

2) Safety:

The perception that “natural” equals “safe” fails to recognize that there are many natural things that are quite safe for some, while dangerous for others. Some supplements interact with pharmaceutical medications, some interact with other supplements and some interact with both! When you are looking for a supplement, review all the ingredients and ensure your familiarity with & safety of what you are taking. If you don’t know, don’t recognize or are unsure about an ingredient in your supplement or nutraceutical don’t continue taking it until you’ve discussed it with a knowledgeable health care professional.

3) Dosage:

Often supplements contain a ‘laundry list’ of the most popular or most talked about items of the day. This can quickly result in a long list of ingredients, too often at less than effective dosages. When taking a supplement, the point is to be getting an effective dose. This means the amount in the supplement and the body’s ability to absorb enough of it, need to be at a dosage recognized as effective to create the desired outcome.  If you don’t know what the ideal dosages for you are, or you are unsure what the absorbed dosage of your supplement is, you should discuss it with a knowledgeable health care professional.

4) Quantity:

In our culture, often the perception is that if a small amount is good a large amount is better. This is absolutely not the case in medicine. Taking more than the recommended dosage of a supplement is not better, and in fact, could be quite dangerous. Like other forms of medication, (yes, we view supplements as medications!) some supplements are toxic at higher dosages. For example, Vitamin B6 (which helps form hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood) at elevated dosages can cause weakness, numbness and pain to your hands and feet.

5) Over-supplementation:

Taking too many supplements, vitamins, minerals and/or nutraceuticals can cause a variety of problems. Frequently, people begin taking a supplement (or several) that they’ve heard or read about being beneficial for a specific concern.  Over time, they add to those supplements ones that they have heard worked for other people. A few days or weeks/months pass and someone may suggest adding in yet something else. Before you even realize it, you are taking a handful (or more) of supplements a day. The risks associated with doing so are varied, but they are real. Taking too many supplements can ‘muddy the water’ of your health. Side effects can be caused by interactions between supplements. They can mask underlying health issues, create real health issues, including causing lab abnormalities and strange symptoms. How many supplements are “too many”? The answer varies by patient, provider, and the types of supplementation. But generally speaking, if you are taking more than 6-8 supplements (including vitamins, minerals, nutraceuticals) daily, you are likely taking too many. Consult with a knowledgeable health care provider about your unique concerns.

For more information about supplements, vitamins, minerals and nutraceuticals, consult with one of our integrated medical providers: 503-287-4970.

Most major insurance accepted.

Depression in the Elderly

A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry followed 521
people over the age of 65 for 2-3 years. At the beginning of the study
none of the subjects were depressed. However, at the end of the study it
was discovered that those people who had lower levels of vitamin B12 and
folate in their blood – and higher levels of a substance called
homocysteine – had a significantly higher risk of depression than other
people in the study.

The Top 5 Most Recommended Supplements

Listen to The Top 5 Most Recommended Supplements

In this podcast, Portland naturopathic doctors, Dr. Greg Eckel and Dr. Greg Nigh will tell you the top five supplements that they recommend for any patient to be on.  They’ll explain to you why they think you should be on them, as well as the physical benefits of each one.