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The dangers of self-prescribing

It is all too easy and tempting to purchase nutritional supplements.  They are available in massive displays at the supermarket, chemists and health food stores.  The internet provides further temptation to ‘research’ any health condition and offer a myriad of ‘cures’.  Friends and colleages are often too forthcoming with ‘advice’ and personal recommendations.  Before you succumb to any more temptation, please read on.

Nutritional supplements, whether they be individual vitamins (Vitamin C, E, D or B) or grouped together as a ‘multi’ come in different forms.  Unfortunately, what type they are is not listed on the packaging.  Synthetic supplements cannot be utilised by our body and, as such, provide absolutely no health benefits.  Then there are minerals – calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium …. and the list goes on.  Clever marketing urges us to take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis.  However, rarely are we given any detailed information about what type of calcium is needed.  Indeed, osteoporosis is more often than not caused by over acidity of the body.

Let’s take a look at calcium.  Taken in the incorrect format – especially Calcium Carbonate – it cannot be easily used by the body leading to build up in tissue.  This build up can be in blood vessels, organs such as kidneys or on bones as spurs.  More recent research has noted that people with higher concentrations of calcium in their bodies are more prone to developing autoimmune conditions and have a greater susceptibility to infections from Ebstein Barr virus which is responsible for glandular fever. Increased risk of cardiovascular disease has also been linked to over consumption of calcium (in the wrong format) due to arterial calcification.

Aside from over-supplementation, calcium storage can increase in the body in the presence of other factors; for example vitamin D, copper, oestrogen or insulin.  There are always many factors which work together in our body.

Another supplement which I often see patients wasting lots of money on is fish oils.  Fish oil MUST be kept in the refrigerator.  Secondly, there are extreme differences in quality and purity.  Due to legal constraints I am unable to name brands, however, fish oil coming from the Nordic regions from a specific company have been tested and accredited with being one of the three purest in the world.  The third temptation is to purchase Krill oil as the capsules are so much smaller – well so is the quantity of the EPA and DHA they contain.  Krill are also crustaceans and are best avoided by anyone with a shell fish allergy.

So the next time you feel tempted to purchase a supplement, please stop.  Seek the advice of a qualified health professional who is able to carry out a thorough health analysis (as opposed to spending a few moments talking to you in store) and then prescribe quality products that will actually have health benefits for you.  After all, these health professionals spend many years studying in order to be able to help you.

Dr Watts, D Ph.D., Calcium and Virus Activation, TEI Newsletter, V3n.5, Nov-Dec 1989