Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed in the supplement aisle, paralyzed by the plethora of options? The growing popularity of natural health products has led to the creation of countless capsules, tablets, teas, oils, sprays, tinctures, and more. Faced with such complexity, what’s the average consumer to do? How can you get the most bang for your supplement buck—and ensure you’re choosing options that will work for you?
Enter natural product specialists like naturopathic doctors, nutritionists, and integrative medical doctors. Consulting an expert can provide you with personalized, effective, and safe solutions to optimize your supplement palette.
One person, many considerations
It’s wise to consider your individual health circumstances when choosing supplements, for reasons of both safety and efficacy.
Nursing parents, for example, should be particularly attuned to the best options for both themselves and the young life they are nourishing. Well-chosen supplements can be helpful in cases of limited diets, low milk supply, or nutrient deficiency, and consultation with an expert can provide informed support on all those fronts.
One symptom, many causes
Although some natural products are targeted toward specific concerns, similar-seeming symptoms may have vastly different causes. With insomnia, for example, influences as varied as pain, hormones, sleeping environment, stress, and shift work may be responsible. Targeting the specific cause of insomnia is essential.
In her integrative medical practice, Dr. Adrienne Junek, MD, considers various patient symptoms as part of the whole, connecting the dots to form a comprehensive picture of health. Her solutions address multiple concerns simultaneously. Most people would be hard-pressed to take a similar bird’s-eye view of their own health picture.
One cause, many treatments
Even if the cause is clear, the best treatment may vary from person to person. Dr. Tara Andresen, ND, treats digestive issues in busy professionals and highlights the importance of proper diagnosis. Her patients undergo extensive symptom analysis and testing prior to treatment. Based on these results, patients sharing a diagnosis may have vastly different recommendations.
Andresen also emphasizes the importance of treating underlying and seemingly unrelated health problems. For example, “Untreated gut issues will impact the performance of many natural health solutions,” she says.
Individual lifestyle choices may dramatically affect requirements for certain supplements. Dr. Ellen McDonell, ND, points to athletes in training whose protein requirements may be more than double those of the general population.
Andresen echoes this comment, describing patients for whom a particular supplement “hasn’t worked.” She may see positive results from these same products when she advises different doses or longer treatment duration. Lower doses are better tolerated by her more sensitive patients. In short, a standard dose may not be best for everyone.
Aggravations and interactions
Pre-existing conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, or easy bruising can dramatically influence what supplements we should (and shouldn’t) take. This is particularly important when considering the health needs
of the senior population.
Most seniors have accumulated some health concerns as they’ve aged, accompanied by a prescription or two. Consulting a professional can prevent dangerous mixtures of drugs and supplements. Certain combinations can worsen the conditions above. In addition, Dr. Google may not flag interactions with herbs such as St. John’s wort that could lead to medication failure.
Consultation with regulated health care practitioners can yield surprising benefits and help you create the perfect supplement palette for your needs.
Here are some supplements that may have particular relevance to you. A health professional specializing in natural modalities can help you ensure an individual supplement fits within your personalized supplement strategy.
|Individual||Concern||Supplements to consider/discuss|
|a breastfeeding mother||Nutritional supplementation
|Increasing milk supply||
|a troubled sleeper||Sleep support||
|A busy worker||Digestive issues||
|An athlete||Exercise recovery||
|A senior||Bone health||