What to look for in a supplement

Part One

I wish for you all a healthy and vibrant 2014.

To that end I will continue to educate you as much as possible on ways you can take charge of your health. My last article generated a lot of comments and quality of supplements is certainly a related topic.

Patients will hear about some herb or neutraceutical in the news then bring the query to their doctors, MD’s and ND’s. ND’s (naturopathic physcians) are well versed to answer these questions whereas MD’s may not be due to their lack of nutritional education. Patients need targeted and individualized therapy and they need guidance on what is the best remedy to choose.

Here are some common questions to ask when choosing a remedy.


1. Are dietary supplements and herbs safe and effective?


a. Risk of taking dietary supplements is very low compared to what the media would have you believe. Knowing the companies you are using and their quality control procedures raises the confidence of both practitioner and patient that “do no harm” is being followed.  There are some interactions with prescription medications but as long as the patient is being monitored these can be addressed on an individual basis. There are lots of myths out there and with the help of knowledgeable practitioners these can be dispelled over time.


2. Do I need a multivitamin?


a. Most multivitamins provide a B complex and a mixture of minerals and anti-oxidants. I find the dosage of all of these are not adequate as you can’t fit therapeutics dosages into one capsule. Even in the face of a “healthy diet” the concern is the depletion of the soils’ nutrients so that the so called “healthy diet” does not have in fact healthy levels of adequate nutrients.

b. If a patient eats mostly organic, grows a lot of their own food, eats from the garden most of the year, and eats predominantly wild game, organic chicken and turkey and lots of wild fish, then this person is not likely to need a multivitamin. They may still need probiotics and fish oil and other certain remedies to treat their health condition but a multivitamin is generally of minimal importance.

c. What is the age and the health of the patient? If the patient is an otherwise healthy young women then she might be low in iron and minerals and may need help with those but if the patient has  high blood pressure and diabetes then they require long term specific nutrient supplementation in therapeutic dosages to make a difference. In this case magnesium is a common deficiency and the amount required is not found in a multivitamin.

d. What was the health of the mother during pregnancy? To determine requirements for children I look at the mother and the lifestyle of the family. Many youngsters are very depleted by their early teen years.

e. What are you looking for in a multivitamin? The dosage of the B complexes should be upward of 50mg per capsule and selenium should be 100mcg. Calcium and magnesium should be several hundreds of milligrams. This is where this becomes impossible to put into a single multivitamin so I suggest a hefty B complex in addition to a good dose of minerals including the above.


I suggest what I call a “Foundation for Health” to patients and their families. A lot more people are taking charge of their health as they want to stay out of hospitals and avoid drugs and surgery. This is our important role as naturopathic physicians.



Dr. Ingrid Pincott, naturopathic physician, has been practicing since 1985 and can be reached at 250-286-3655 or



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