How to pick health supplements wisely
Naturopathic doctor says aim for products with international certification
The most expensive supplement of all is the one that does not work, no matter how little you paid for it.
That is a favourite quote of Dr Taylor Bean, a licensed naturopathic doctor at Selkirk Naturopathic Clinic in Canada.
According to Dr Bean, who completed her prescription authority through the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia and visits Singapore once or twice a year, the quality of health supplements play a big role in their efficacy.
The 36-year-old told The New Paper in an e-mail interview: "You should think about it the same way you do food and water. If it is dirty and contaminated, you most likely won't die from consuming it, but you want to consume the cleanest form.
"If you are dealing with poor quality or a product that has less concentration of a specific nutrient, then you won't reach a therapeutic dosage."
She added: "My biggest concern is supplement companies taking advantage of the consumer.
"I see this happening more in South-east Asia than Canada, with more multi-level marketing companies pushing their products upon the public."
Dr Bean advises consumers to take note of where the supplement is manufactured, proof of product and ingredient certification supplied by the company and the type of human trials the product was used in.
She said: "It is best to buy a supplement that has gone over and above the guidelines of the country it is sold in to achieve international certification.
"Or you can speak to a licensed healthcare practitioner such as a naturopathic doctor, integrative medical doctor, chiropractor or holistic nutritionist who utilises supplements in their practice."
If consumers choose not to consult professional help, Dr Bean suggests simply reflecting on how they feel before starting any supplements and after four to six weeks of doing so.
As there is a lower availability of organic food in Singapore compared with countries such as Canada, she recommends taking probiotics due to the herbicide glyphosate that can cause damage to our microbiome, along with minerals such as magnesium because of the decline in mineral-rich soil.
She added: "Fish oils are still one of my top suggested supplements for both children and adults. There is evidence of them lowering inflammation and blood pressure, preserving cellular function, supporting brain function, reducing risk of depression and more."
Dr Bean is "highly against" products that contain deer placenta and alkaline water filtration systems.
She said: "Most ethical doctors including myself would not recommend ingesting animal placenta, as this would not provide any benefits in terms of beauty and well-being.
"And when we consume alkaline water, our stomachs, which work to stay at a pH of 2.2, have to buffer the alkaline water. I recommend drinking half your body weight of filtered water in ounces."
In her practice, Dr Bean works to get patients off supplements after they have achieved their goal.
"In this day and age, with poor soil and air quality, stress and medication use, a good broad-spectrum multivitamin plus minerals, probiotics, along with fish oils, can be beneficial.
"But I do not believe you should be on a range of daily supplements forever. With more mindful dietary changes, increasing filtered water, exercise and addressing any environmental toxicities, you may not need to be on many, if any supplements at all," she said.