Dr. Ryan Lombardo breaks down the in’s and out’s of navigating the supplement aisle.

Have you ever wondered what makes a “good” nutritional supplement? How can you tell the difference between one that works and one that doesn’t? How do you know what you really need? Well, it is actually quite difficult to know without the proper education and analysis. Products and their labeling can be misleading. Just because a label says it has 100% of a given nutrient, doesn’t mean that you can absorb or use 100% of that ingredient. The FDA regulates the production and labeling of the supplement industry, but not the bioavailability, function, or shelf-life.

It goes without saying that the best way to build a supplement regimen is to work with a trained professional who understands your health history and goals. However, if you are planning to do this yourself, here are a few tips that may help:

1- General things to consider are the completeness and/or purpose of the product. Is it a mulitvitamin/multimineral, or is it a unique blend designed for a specific benefit? Supplementation is quite literally “supplementing nutrients” that we cannot derive from food for whatever reason. We should have reasons for taking them.

2- Consider the forms of the ingredients, which relate to bioavailability, absorption, and gut tolerance. If we are looking for a specific benefit from a product, it makes sense that we would want to absorb the nutrients without creating gut sensitivity and inflammation. In fact, we should only be using products to improve how we feel and function.

3- Are there potential toxicities? How much of any given ingredient is too much, or too little? Some may think that 100% is enough. While that may be true for the bare minimum need to avoid a deficiency, it may not help at all if you are trying to achieve therapeutic benefit. In some cases, a person may need 8000% of the RDA suggestion!! In other cases, it may be wise to avoid the ingredient altogether.

4- Are there ingredients that may trigger symptoms of underlying disease? Here’s a classic example, a patient with chronic IBS that often gets sick and stressed out. A quick internet search would suggest Magnesium for relaxation and Vitamin C for immune support. Unfortunately, what would be missing is the potential for Magnesium to soften stools and Vitamin C to irritate the bowels.This would certainly NOT be helpful.

5- Are there ingredients that interact with current medications? Imagine you are taking blood pressure medication. Now you read that Vitamin E is good for the skin, and Omega 3’s are good for your heart, and Ginkgo is good for your memory, and Ginseng is good for energy, and Ashwagandha is good for anxiety. So, you start your own supplement regimen. Did you know that the first 4 ingredients are all blood thinners? Did you know that Ashwagandha lowers cortisol and blood pressure? Together, this collection of nutrients may cause a very steep decline in blood pressure and have significant interactions with the current dose of blood pressure medication.

These are just a few criteria to consider when creating a supplementation protocol. Other points may include length/course of therapy, with food or on an empty stomach, liquid/ pill/ or powder, antioxidant support, lipotrophic factors, potency, glycation, methylation, and more. In the end, like everything else in healthcare, it is best to have a purpose and understanding of the condition and goals before beginning treatment of any kind. Proper nutritional supplementation can be extremely helpful when the protocol is designed appropriately. The best option is to seek a trained professional’s advice for optimal benefit.

To schedule an appointment with Ryan Lombardo, DAOM, visit us online at: https://www.chicagoderm1765.com/request-appointment/

Schedule via phone: 773-276-1100
Schedule via text: 773-832-5246