Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, trace elements, herbs and enzymes. Plum Spring’s functional practitioners, Dr. Michael Sharp and Susan Wyler, RDN, are knowledgeable about when supplements are helpful and discriminating about the quality of any supplement they recommend. Many over-the-counter vitamins simply are not pure enough or potent enough to provide the needed benefits.
It’s easy to forget how vital vitamins and minerals are to our overall well-being. On the most basic level, certain vitamins are needed to prevent specific illnesses and disease states. Vitamins and minerals also profoundly affect our energy levels, mental acuity and physical functioning. Some vitamins even act directly in concert with our DNA to determine susceptibility to certain diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, and affect weight gain.
Ideally, you should be able to get all the nutrition you need from your food, but several factors interfere with this:
- Not everyone eats an optimal diet. Especially if preferences lead to more restricted, repetitive eating, some nutrients may not be present in those foods.
- There is an interaction between some vital nutrients in the food you eat and your body’s ability to absorb them. For example, without enough vitamin D, your body cannot utilize the calcium present in your food, no matter how much you take in.
- It’s not only what nutrients you take in, it’s how your body absorbs and processes them. Diet can have an effect on how you absorb certain nutrients, and small genetic twists, which do not directly affect health, can inhibit the absorption, transport or storage of certain vitamins.
- Prescription medications can interfere with or deplete certain vitamins. For example, one of the most popular and most prescribed drugs today, powerful antiacids called proton pump inhibitors, can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency among other issues. (And B12 is essential for DNA replication, formation of new red blood cells, energy, and other vital functions.) Many traditional physicians are most concerned with reduction of immediate symptoms, and prefer to ignore the long-term consequences of the side effects of prescribed drugs. That’s when supplements really become vital.
More Is Not Necessarily Better
When people diagnose and dose themselves, the results are not always optimal. As said, many over-the-counter dietary supplements do not deliver what they promise. Studies have shown that while individual vitamins and minerals can be very helpful, most combination formulas that promise to treat specific physical problems, such as reduced cholesterol, weight loss, or stress relief, do not deliver. And when people treat themselves and take a variety of supplements, they may well overdose on a particular micronutrient. And as in many aspects of life, too much of a good thing can become problematic and even dangerous. That’s why it makes good sense to let the experts decide.
Plum Spring maintains a formulary of high-quality dietary supplements. But these are only prescribed when food cannot do the trick or there is a clinical deficiency determined by medical symptoms or lab tests.