Nutritional supplementation has a demonstrated effectiveness for a variety of ailments and consequently has led to a multi-billion dollar vitamin industry. According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, around 40 percent of all people in the U.S. and a majority of woman over age 50 are taking some form of dietary supplementation. Proof of this fact is visible in gyms, grocery stores and even gas stations, where supplements are readily available. In urban areas, stand-alone vitamin stores are common place containing floor-to-ceiling displays of all the latest and greatest products. Here is where the confusion sets in: Given the number of possibilities right before their eyes, how can consumers, even knowledgeable ones, know which version of a product is right for them? Certainly the vitamins cannot all be the same. The best a consumer can do is to make her choice based upon quality and perhaps research. But there is more; much more. Presented below are the seven reasons why supplementation may have no beneficial effect whatsoever. The first two are generally recognized. The last five, however, are ones many in the world of alternative medicine do not even know.
Rule #1: Is It What It Says It Is and Nothing Else? The quality and purity of any ingested product is a chief concern for consumers and is one of the main regulatory assignments of the Food and Drug Administration. Unfortunately, what is on the label is not always what is in the package.
In a University of Maryland Pharmacy School study in 2000, only 2 of 32 different joint supplements (containing chondroitin sulfate) met the label claim for ingredients. The study reported the less expensive the supplement, the lower the total levels of the nutrient. Unfortunately, several similar studies have been performed on a variety of different types of supplements, only to find analogous results.
Another concern with supplements is their overall quality. Despite claims of purity on the label, as a percentage, very few companies actually measure up. Poor quality means a product full of binders, fillers and lubricants. Magnesium sterate, ascorbyl palmitate, lactose and sodium benzoate are just a few examples. These cost-cutting and production-assisting additives can lead to poor absorption and potential allergic reactions. Beyond this, the methods of preparation and storage of raw materials is very important to avoid potential contaminants such as molds, bacteria or heavy metals.
Rule #2: Is It What People Need With Nothing Else? Each person is unique. This means that supplements, even ultra-pure supplements, might work for one person but not for others. Just because vitamin C is good to help the immune system, it does not mean it is good in every case. In fact, depending upon the type of immune system imbalance, it could actually make things worse. Finding out which of the many nutritional possibilities applies is ideal.
Similarly, metabolism, like genetics, is personal. But unlike genetics, metabolism is highly dynamic and can change based on diet, stress, lack of rest, increased or decreased activity and more. This adds to the confusion concerning how long to take a given supplement, and it is the reason why nutrients that used to work are no longer effective. Therefore, a regular evaluation of one’s current supplement regime is critical.
Rule #3: Multi-Vitamins Are For Healthy People Recognizing that extra nutrients are needed in the diet, a large percentage of people have become proactive, even religious, by taking a multi-vitamin. The assumption is a once-a-day multiple vitamin containing B-vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and the latest wild berry plucked from an isolated rock outcropping in Papua New Guinea will meet the nutritional needs of the body. If only it were that easy. Multiple vitamins only work for healthy people or those who are severely nutritionally deprived. In this context, healthy refers to someone with very few functional problems, not someone free of disease. Most people are overloaded with functional problems. The reason why multi-vitamins are ineffective, even detrimental, has everything to do with the next rule.
Rule #4: Anything Can Be Canceled Out or Neutralized It is not surprising for applied kinesiologists to see a patient carry a large box of supplements into the office and then crash it on to the desk. As soon as this happens, good practitioners know they are about to be a hero. In some cases, it is possible to take the patient off of half to two-thirds of his supplements, while seeing his health improve at the same time. Most vitamin collectors are well informed and have made wise choices based upon the latest eBlast from a respected alternative health doctor or vitamin store. Yes, everything they are taking is of good quality, and the latest research “proves” the supplements have positive health benefits. But, it is the simple case of too much of a good thing becoming a bad thing. Researchers do not conduct studies with patients taking ten or more nutrients at the same time. This would be bad science. Yet, too many nutrients equal too much processing. It is hard to fix one internal stress by creating another.
For example, a patient may complain of extended soreness after exercise. This is often a need for vitamin B1, which the muscles use to break down lactic acid. The same patient may complain of chronic allergies. This is often a need for vitamin B6, which is important for metabolizing histamine. So, why not give him a B-complex that has plenty of vitamin B1 and plenty of vitamin B6? Because it probably won’t work. Vitamins compete with vitamins, and minerals compete with minerals. Oils compete with oils, and amino acids compete with amino acids. They all can potentially cancel each other out. This is the Teeter-Totter Effect. Finding the precise nutrient and giving that alone, without interference from others, is what makes miracles happen.
Rule #5: Everything Is On a Teeter-Totter A balance between essential nutrients is critical for optimal function. Most (perhaps all) prime movers in the body are balanced with another prime mover. If one is too low, the other, by relative relationship, will be too high. This, as described earlier, is the Teeter-Totter Effect. Trying to use a multi-vitamin to raise up the low side of the teeter-totter almost never works since a multi-vitamin, by definition, will also contain the high or opposite nutrient as well.
Rule #6 – As The Body Changes, So Do Supplements When new patients undergo Functional Bio-Analysis, practitioners often find a majority of the patients' shopping-bags-worth of supplements don’t do any good. Some are detrimental to a certain tissue, while others are in fact toxic to the body as a whole, causing some of the complaints that brought the patients into the office in the first place. When questioned about the length of time they have been taking their supplements, “years” is not an uncommon answer. Just as there is no perfect food, there is no perfect supplement. Nothing should ever be taken for years. That is because the body is always in a state of change, adapting to life’s many stresses. With changes in life there are changes in needs.
When correcting problems with prime movers, the body's most needed nutrients, positive changes can happen in weeks. Therefore, supplements should change, or the patient should no longer need them, after only a short period of time. Prime movers are not just Band-Aids, they correct problems. If a person needs the same supplements for extended periods of time and the problem is not getting fixed, something was missed. The only time a patient will need supplemental nutrients for the long-term is when he is addressing genetic issues or when he is in the middle of an ongoing stressful situation or event with no immediate end in sight.
Rule # 7 – Fixing Chronic Problems is Unnatural “My supplement is made from organic whole food ingredients like those found in nature” is the argument by both patients and practitioners. On paper, these forms of supplements sound like the best things to take to restore health. Unfortunately, they often are not. Or, if they do work, they require massive doses (and expense) and a “healing crisis” to produce results. Medicines are based on chemicals found in plants, but in an isolated form, making them much more potent than when they were combined with other ingredients in their natural state. The more pure, or isolated, a substance, the more powerful its effect. In other words, purity equals potency. Prime movers, when properly given, often produce the same clinical potency as medicines, but without the harmful side-effects.
The more severe or chronic problems are, the greater the nutritional deficiencies will be and the more likely it is that prime movers need to be used all by themselves. Trying to treat significant nutritional imbalances with multiple vitamins almost never works. In severe cases, an imbalance must be treated with an imbalance. Echinacea is a good immune-supporting herb that has helped many to overcome general viral and bacterial illnesses. However, with a raging infection, choose an antibiotic instead. In other words, choose the unnatural, single use, purified, high dosage, out-of-balance option over the general use, complex-chemical, naturally balanced one. Or, better yet, find out through FBA which part of the immune system is in greatest need and supplement it specifically with what is missing to produce the same healing effect as an antibiotic without the gastro-intestinal and common allergic side-effects.
These seven rules are the scientific reality of supplemental nutrition and the experience of those using FBA with their patients. Supplement overload is the reason why many in the alternative field, who are doing things naturally, still fail to help those in need. Understanding and applying these rules with the immediate feedback generated through FBA to find prime movers, equals fewer supplements, less money, quicker responses and often permanent results.