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Do we need to supplement?

When it comes to supplements, there is a lot of conflicting information around.  Some people insist that if you eat a healthy balanced diet, there is no need to supplement.  Yes, and, No.

We live in a world where soils have become both depleted in nutrients and polluted with chemicals. Even if the mineral level of the soil is good, chances are that the chemicals from decades of herbicide and pesticide use are blocking the uptake of those minerals by the plants.  While our physical food chain begins with plants, the real beginning is the soil.

Let me give you a very brief example of the biochemistry involved here. Zinc is an essential nutrient, both for plants and for us.  Zinc is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions that occur in every cell of our body.  Zinc is considered as the ‘organiser’ of minerals being essential for growth and repair of tissue, energy cycles, glucose regulation, hormone regulation, immune regulation and allergies, neurotransmitter production, mood and sleep control, digestion and correct DNA synthesis. When soils become polluted with cadmium (just one of many toxins used in sprays), the plant takes up the cadmium in place of zinc. Superphosphate fertilisers contain about 20mg/kg of cadmium. Just another reason to source organically grown produce.

In the body, similar blocks can take place. For example, some heavy metals such as mercury, aluminium, antimony or elevated copper block zinc uptake by our tissues.  Just one molecule of mercury can block 1000 zinc ions! One cadmium molecule will block 100 zinc ions.  You don’t even need to be ‘toxic’ for these effects to occur. 

Another example of how substances in our environment can block essential nutrients are the halogens (chlorine, fluoride and bromide) blocking iodine. Just consider how much chlorine you are exposed to on a daily basis:  water for drinking and used to shower, wash and cook with; chemical fragrances, personal care products, cleaning compounds and swimming pools.  Fluoride has been added to our drinking water with levels so high that baby formula made with fluoridated water far exceeds toxic levels.  Bromide is found in water, soft drinks, baked products and many processed foods.  Iodine is essential for the development of healthy brain function in babies and infants as well as healthy reproductive and thyroid tissue. 

Common sources of heavy metals

Copper: food, water, hot water systems, supplements

Cadmium:  cigarettes, food, water, household items, toys, coffee/black teas, refined carbohydrates, evaporated milk, processed meats, pesticides, fungicides, PVC piping, silver polish

Lead: water, makeup, household items, petrol, paints

Mercury:  dental fillings, vaccines, fish, body talcs and powders, cosmetics, grains treated with fungicide, fabric softeners, lawn/tree/shrub fungicides, pesticides, wood preservatives

Aluminium: antiperspirants, cookware, aluminium foil, bleached flour, water supplies, antacids

Arsenic: water, playgrounds, termite treatments

Antimony: makeup, fabrics, printing ink, paints

Occupations particularly at risk of exposure to toxins

Copper:  plumbers, electricians, petroleum industry workers, fertiliser/pesticide exposure

Cadmium:  mechanics, tyre fitters, welders, plumbers, carpet layers, jewellers, toy industry, plastics industry, marine hardware, electroplating

Mercury: dental technicians, dentists, petroleum workers, gold miners, medical technologists, sugar cane workers, seed/seedling handlers, textile printers, canvas makers, swimming pool stores/attendants

Arsenic: gold miners, metallurgists, landscape workers, carpenters, builders, brickies, bore drillers, concrete workers

Lead: mechanics, plumbers, welders petroleum workers, painters, renovators, lead lighting, fishermen

Aluminium: plumbers, ducting installers, aircraft workers, welders, miners, refinery workers

The above toxins are only a few examples of how our body’s balance can be thrown out of whack.  Other factors include infection, stress, anaesthetic, medications, pregnancy, growth spurts and vaccination.

How do you know

As most of the above toxins don’t remain in the blood for long – they are far too dangerous to keep flowing through the body – levels of toxicity are best identified with hair tissue analysis, urine or saliva tests. These tests are readily available through most qualified naturopaths.     

Once you have ascertained which toxins or imbalances are happening in your body, supplementation may be necessary. 

However, I cannot stress enough that you should have your needs assessed by a qualified practitioner and then only take those supplements your body needs. As recently highlighted in a report on the ABC Four Corners program, not all supplements are what they are marketed to be.  This is why I always recommend high quality, TGA approved practitioner-only products which are prescribed by naturopaths to meet your individual needs.  Don’t be tempted to buy online.  Most companies selling their products will claim quality.  You can waste a lot of money buying inferior products your body doesn’t need as well as further imbalance an already compromised body.

True Medicine offers individualised assessment and only prescribed quality supplements. For an appointment call 07 5530 1863.


Source:  Dr Igor Tabrizian, Textbook of Nutritional Medicine