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Are You Wasting Money on Supplements You Do Not Need?

Nov 27th 2010 at 6:16 PM


Many people are already convinced of the need to take a supplement program for optimum health, but are unsure how to go about designing the best combination for their needs. Some will visit a nutritionist, or other complementary health practitioner, and obtain their advice. However, without an objective testing service, even the best qualified practitioner is taking a best-guess.

There are so many factors involved in designing the best program that it's almost impossible to get it spot-on, even by an educated guess. For instance, did you realize that it's not just having a good supply of vitamins and minerals that's important, but that maintaining the correct balance of vitamins and nutrient minerals is crucial for good health.

In recent months the news has contained scare stories about excesses of vitamins and minerals. Much of it is scare-mongering and misinterpretation of scientific research.

Critics of "higher than RDA" doses of vitamins claim that because the body excretes certain vitamins, we may have "over-dosed" in some way. This is as unreasonable as saying that excreting urine means that we have over-dosed on water. You will drink water; it will perform many vital functions, and then leave your body as urine. This does not mean you have taken an "excess" of water. Likewise, when certain vitamins are excreted, it's because they have fulfilled a vital function and are no longer required.

For instance the B-vitamins stain urine a bright yellow when they are excreted. Take "too much" vitamin C, to what is known as "bowel tolerance", and the body will "protest" with diarrhea. This sign of vitamins being excreted does not necessarily mean they were taken to excess.

But there are legitimate concerns about excess nutrients too. The body will manufacture many vitamins, and we have seen from a couple of examples above that it has the capacity to excrete what is no longer needed. Turning from vitamins to minerals, although these are essential in the right amounts, did you know that excess mineral intake can negate the beneficial intake of vitamins?

It is a question of maintaining the correct balance. Although the body can excrete surplus amounts of certain vitamins, it cannot get rid of many possible mineral excesses. Nor can it produce vital trace minerals in the first place, which is why many people take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. A practice I am strongly in favour of.

However, as well as deficiencies of vitamin and mineral causing health problems, many symptoms of ill-health are associated with vitamin and mineral excesses. For example:

* Too much zinc can reduce the effectiveness of vitamin D

* Too much calcium can reduce the effectiveness of vitamin A and magnesium

* Too much copper has been associated with headaches

* Too much iron has been associated with hypertension, arthritis and headache

Zinc, calcium, copper and iron were specifically chosen for the "problems" above, because all four are generally considered beneficial and essential for good health. And indeed they are - so long as they are in balance with the other minerals in the body.

Mineral imbalances can arise from poor diet, stress, pollution and - it has to be admitted - from taking an inappropriate mix or quantity of supplements. Too many people simply assume that it is "good" or even "harmless" to take huge quantities of supplements. While I am in favour of supplementation, it is not the case that more is necessarily better.

You need to ensure your mineral balance is correct, which is not easy; so you would be well-advised to see advice. But from whom?

If you consult a conventional medical practitioner you may find them unsympathetic to the idea of supplements at all. If you consult a complementary therapist, many simply recommend a whole cocktail of supplements, with the best of intentions, but if it is prepared "from their head" it may be ineffective, or even have ill-effects such as the ones mentioned above.

A safer approach is to use an objective tool and base your supplement program on the results of scientifically validated test such as a Hair Mineral Analysis, or HMA.

Hair contains all the minerals present in the body and, in most cases, reflects the quantity of these elements in your tissues. Analysing the hair provides excellent information on your longer-term nutritional status and how well your body is functioning. Blood or urine tests are biased towards information about your mineral levels at the time the test is taken. For instance, a blood test may indicate a high potassium level if you’ve just eaten a banana, even though you would benefit from a potassium supplement.

Furthermore, the hair analysis report picks up and addresses mineral imbalance by including computerized ratios of beneficial and harmful minerals. These would take hours to calculate by hand, even if a practitioner had access to sufficient research to make the calculations. The HMA computer programme has had the necessary information programmed in by a specialist in Hair Analysis.

It is these ratios, rarely mentioned outside the field of Hair Trace Mineral Analysis, which will determine the effectiveness of your supplement programme. And the report uses the information determined from analysis of your recent hair growth to formulate a supplement regime tailored to your current bodily status.

Diagnosis by a qualified medical practitioner is always essential before resorting to a complementary approach, and you should NEVER change your prescription without permission from your GP. But if medical investigations have failed to find a reason, or suggest an effective treatment for your symptoms, HMA represents an invaluable and cost-effective next step to determining whether mineral imbalances could be a factor.

For more information on having a Hair Mineral Analysis, and to download an ebook, visit


Please to comment
Nov 28th 2010 at 11:14 AM by 4SFI
I like it. Thanks.
Nov 28th 2010 at 12:57 AM by drkelp
Thanks for an informative and interesting (and well written) article.
Nov 27th 2010 at 9:11 PM by bjfoot
Another great article! I did a quick visit on the site. You are providing a great service!

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