The Truth about Diet Supplements

October 14, 2014 7:14 pm

Take Supplements Wisely


Stay away from the trendy supplements for weight loss. Most do not have solid research to back their efficacy (such as raspberry ketones, green coffee bean extract and garcinia cambogia). These products get a lot of hype but there is nothing particularly magical or effective about them.

My pet peeve as an herbalist and Chinese nutritionist is that there are so many products available over the counter and yet all of these items are also natural drugs. Would you ever think to randomly take a medication for diabetes without getting a blood test to determine if you are actually diabetic? Would you randomly just take a cholesterol medication without taking a blood test to see if your cholesterol is really high? Yet, people do this all the time with natural over the counter supplements and herbs.

Here is the big 411: You cannot know whether a set of supplements is correct for your unique body without appropriate blood work or at the very least, talking to a professional who can analyze where you are and help you to select supplements based on your unique chemistry and health.

This is why I like to use food as medicine as much as possible and minimize supplements. Having said that, here are a few things that are safe to take OTC that do not have high potential for interfering with medication.

Green tea extract–up to 500 mg a day. Some people take megadosasges but you can permanently damage your liver if you take 800 mg so if you are taking a supplement keep it well under 500 mg and perhaps every other day to keep your liver safe. You can get this by drinking decaffeinated green tea as well but sometimes people do not like the taste of green tea. This is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory with studies that show it can help us metabolize foods better. It also protects the body against development of cancer cells.

Multi vitamin (that is iron free if you are menopausal or a man, with iron if you are woman still having periods). I like Rainbow Light multi as it comes in different formulations. Their “over 40” women formulation is iron free, and there is also a formulation for men vs. women. I also use Twice a Day Health by Designs by Health in my practice for it does not have iron and has a very good source of balanced minerals and vitamins, so can be used by both women and men.

The key is that multi vitamins should have a good source of b12 and folate combined–not folic acid.

What’s the difference between folic acid and folate? Folate is natural B9 vitamin and protects the body against cancer, improves metabolism and energy and overall health.

Folic acid is the synthetic version of of B9 vitamin and as a synthetic has been linked to gastric side effects, dizziness, headaches and more inflammation in the body. Yet folic acid, because it is cheaper to produce, its what typically shows up in our supplements and in a lot of our foods–then we wonder why our guts are so inflamed and our digestion compromised.

So not all multi-vitamins are created equal. The two brands I mentioned above are among a select few that have the correct level of b12 and folate vs folic acid AND reasonably priced.

Check your labels–if your supplements have folic acid, know that is working against your effort to lose weight. Stop taking them and replace with a better quality supplement with folate.

Spirulina–this powerful super food exists as a supplement in powder and tablet form. It shifts acidic states in the body to more alkaline states meaning that it reduces inflammation which also shows up as weight gain/fat storage. It also protects cells against cancer.

Try to take it with shakes but not solid meals as it reduces stomach acids, which we need to break down solid foods.

Super papaya digestive enzymes –yes that is actually the brand name too! We need the correct digestive enzymes to metabolize foods. Take 1-3 tablets with meals to help you get the right enzyme levels to break down the foods you are eating.

Braggs apple cider vinegar energy drinks–this not the usually apple cider that is sour. These energy drinks come in yummy flavors like cinnamon apple and ginger. They are more dilute than taking apple cider vinegar direct and so are not as harsh on the enamel of the teeth (be sure to swish after apple cider products or they will erode teeth enamel), and the spices and herbs added boost the fat-fighting properties by reducing acidity in the body and promoting better absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Pick one of the strategies mentioned to integrate into your journey of balancing weight and health and let me know how you do with it. It takes about two weeks to start seeing the effects of these gentle supplements.

Interested in a individualized health consult to refine diet and strategies for building your health? Contact us today at  512-468-6588

Kay Hutchinson, CAMQ, CAMT

Kay is the founder of Aiki Healing, a practice of medical qi gong dedicated to increasing the energy and well being of clients across the body, mind and spiritual levels. Email or call her today for a personalized consultation or bliss bodywork session. 512-468-6588