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5 Myths Surrounding Dietary Supplements

There is so much information  surrounding dietary supplementation widely available in books, magazines, and online; but how do you determine what is true and what is a myth? Dr. Christopher Oswald debunked the top 5 myths about supplements in the April 2013 issue of DC Practice Insights.

**Pay Extra Attention to # 3. If you are currently taking supplements or vitamins and would like to see if they are in the best bio-available form, bring them in for us to check!

–         Myth #1: “If I take supplements, I don’t have to worry about diet and exercise.”  Many people believe this is true but in actuality, it is far from it.  Supplements supplement a healthy diet and lifestyle.  Eating well and getting daily exercise are the foundation of health.  People whom do not practice a healthy lifestyle will never acquire the remarkable benefits of the combination of a healthy lifestyle and appropriate dietary supplements.

–         Myth #2: “I can get all the nutrients I need from my diet.”  Many people consider that a healthy, well balanced diet will grant them enough of the appropriate nutrients to allow their body to work at optimum capability.  Now-a-days our food is too weak to build up nutrient stores in a nutrient-depleted body.  “Data gathered over the past 50-70 years on the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables shows a ‘median decline of 5% to 40% or more in minerals, vitamins and protein in groups of foods, especially vegetables’”.  (DC Practice Inights, April 2013, Dr. Christopher Oswald, pg. 7)  On average, the general population is not meeting all of their nutrient needs with diet alone.  The DRI value, or dietary reference intakes, is the minimum level set to avoid the incidence of the diseases associated with nutrient deficiency.  This value is not the level to promote optimum function.

–         Myth #3: “All multivitamins are the same, so I should just buy the least expensive option.”  The body’s biochemistry is complex, including how the body absorbs and utilizes vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  The body make be able to absorb one mineral better than another mineral that is found in two different multivitamins.  Let’s take calcium for example.  In some multivitamins, there might be calcium carbonate and in others there may be calcium nitrate.  There is a difference in the amount of actual calcium in different forms, so 500 mg of calcium carbonate may not have the same amount of calcium as 500 mg of calcium citrate.  The bio-availability, or the absorption and utilization rates, of these different forms of calcium are different.  Calcium carbonate may have the higher percentage of calcium, it is not very bio-available.  Calcium citrate on the other hand has a much higher bio-availability and makes up for the lower amount of calcium.

–         Myth #4: “My urine is fluorescent yellow; all of the vitamins I take are just creating expensive urine!”  The fluorescent yellow color change to urine is associated with the B vitamin riboflavin.  Since B vitamins are water soluble, they do not store in the body for long term, hence the color change of the urine is just riboflavin being excreted.  If riboflavin is in the urine, this means that the B vitamins got into the bloodstream first, which is a good thing!  When the body is excreting the B vitamins this means that the body is receiving enough to perform the proper functions and the rest is waste.  If people are taking B vitamins and their urine is not turning a fluorescent yellow, they need to take more because the body is using everything that was provided in the supplement.

–         Myth #5: “Taking all of my supplements at once has the same effect as splitting up the dosing throughout the day.”  Fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K  are ok to take as one dose daily because your body will be able to build up storage of these nutrients and then use them when extra is needed.  With most other supplements, however, the body is unable to build up longer-term storage.  This is why splitting up the daily dose into two or three administrations is optimal for these nutrients.  Taking a small dose each hour throughout the day is the best-case scenario when taking these nutrients.  The body will receive a constant “drip” throughout the day and these nutrients will be readily available to support daily function.  Another consideration to take into account is the timing of taking a supplement.  Some are supposed to be taken before bed, some in the morning after waking up and others at a specific time.  If these guidelines are not followed, the supplement may not be realized.