Popular Supplements That Should Be Reconsidered
My approach towards supplementation is always that of caution. While supplements can be amazing (and I do use them to help bring healing), it's also important to be mindful of the risks that come along with supplementation. The body needs to maintain a delicate balance between vitamins and minerals, and unfortunately, there are wellness trends that threaten this important balance.
Megadoses of Vitamin D
The first supplement that's widely pushed is vitamin D. While I do believe that there is a time and a place for moderate vitamin D supplementation, there are two common themes that I see. Typically, individuals get their vitamin D levels checked while having yearly blood-work. If levels are low, (1) very large and potentially dangerous amounts of vitamin D are recommended, and (2) the question: "why is vitamin D low in the first place?", remains unasked. Excess amounts of vitamin D will cause mineral (magnesium) and vitamin (vitamin A) depletion, and it also puts the kidneys at risk by causing a build-up of calcium in the blood. If someone is low in vitamin D, it's most likely because they are (1) not spending enough time outside (2) have impaired intestinal absorption of nutrients (3) they have unsupported kidneys that are not converting storage D to active vitamin D.
"But I was told to take 10,000 IU of vitamin D a day, what am I supposed to do?"
I hear this question so often. First of all, you can do whatever you want to do, but know that a conventional way of approaching vitamin D probably won't be best long term. By also getting testing done to see if you are low in vitamin A or magnesium, or checking to see if you are also vitamin deficient in other areas (iron and b vitamins typically show up with low vitamin D), you can get more answers. I am able to order this testing for 1:1 clients, and I am working on a program to offer to help more women have access to this valuable, insightful testing. If you are low in these nutrients, or if you are low in all nutrients, then addressing those missing links will be helpful. If you are not spending time in the sun, then starting to do so safely will be helpful. If you still need support, I am a huge fan of combining small amounts of D2 with D3, while getting sun exposure in the early afternoon. Eggs, cod liver oil, and sunned mushrooms (yes, literally let your mushrooms spend 15 minutes out in the sun!) all contain a good amount of vitamin D, so these options are worth considering as well. All in all, I am not saying that vitamin D is not essential - it is, but the way we get it, and not getting too much of it, is also important too.
Ascorbic Acid "Vitamin C"
Oh, vitamin C. It's one of the most essential vitamins, and sadly, many of us are only getting it in isolation. Instead of getting the whole-food form, which is comprised of so many different compounds, we are often getting just one piece of the puzzle: ascorbic acid. While ascorbic acid can absolutely support the immune system and do some pretty awesome things, it does so at a cost to our bio-available copper. Because whole-food vitamin C contains copper, ascorbic acid (one component of vitamin C) goes "looking" for copper to complete itself. It's almost like ascorbic acid are best friends, so any time you ingest ascorbic acid, it tried to find it's "best friend" copper, and it takes it, and uses it to perform it's functions. While ascorbic acid can be helpful for those who have copper toxicity, it's not going to be a good option long term, due to the damage it can cause. Am I always against the idea of ascorbic acid being used if the situation calls for it? No. However, I am approaching all of this in a cautious way, and providing insight into why you might want to pursue alternatives for these popular supplements, like large doses of vitamin D and ascorbic acid over whole food vitamin C.
"But I'm taking vitamin C to support my immune system, and I'm not sure if I can get enough from food".
While it's possible to get much more than the daily value of vitamin C through food, you can also utilize whole food vitamin C powders, like camu camu, acerola cherry, and alma berry. Adding these powders with tropical fruit in a smoothie would be a great way to get all of the vitamin C that you needs. Yes, it might take more effort, but your body will thank you, and you will be able to also get other antioxidants and incredible compounds from the whole food vitamin C extracts.
As radical as this might sound, inorganic iron is one of the greatest health threats that we face in this present time, especially as women. While the body does need iron, it's important to understand that (1) low levels of bio-available copper lead to iron not being able to be used efficiently in the body (2) the wrong type of iron is used in most supplements. In recent years, the concept or iron overload has become more well-known, which is a great thing, because unfortunately, many who are dealing with everything from migraines, to autoimmunity, are also suffering from iron excess. Excess iron will cause a number of health issues: from feeding pathogens in the gut, to even damaging organs. It's important to rely on animal products for iron, and always make sure that the source also contains copper. Beef liver is a perfect example or this, and having a variety of organs (my favorites are liver, heart, and kidney) will ensure that you are getting a well-rounded variety of animal nutrients. Added iron in multivitamins, iron fortified foods, and inorganic iron supplementation (i.e. what classic "iron" pills will contain) are all going to make things worse for those who are low in iron. Without copper, iron will not be able to be regulated, so by remembering bring this, you will be able to avoid the trap that so many fall into. Even during pregnancy, as the body lowers iron as a defense mechanism to protect an unborn baby, it's important to note that you still have an option to take beef liver, for example, over using traditional supplementation or getting an iron infusion.
"But I'm low in iron, so shouldn't I take an iron pill?"
By having liver mixed in with ground beef, or by taking liver in capsules, you will be getting an adequate amount of iron. In my practice, I have worked with so many women who have been deemed "anemic" for years without resolution, only to no longer be anemic once GI healing and bioavailable copper + iron became a part of the picture.
To summarize, although these nutrients are taken so often in large amounts in supplement form, it's important to be aware of all of the facts surrounding these supplements.