[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Natural supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs and nutrients. Natural supplements are often grouped under the umbrella of complementary medicines. They have a role in complementing traditional medicines, maintaining health, preventing disease and easing disease. Complimentary Medicine therapy is best done in a partnership with your practitioner, as there are many factors to consider. This blog will discuss four main points:
- Essential nutrients that our bodies cannot manufacture,
- Variation in dosing and evidence of complementary medicines,
- Drug interactions between complementary medicines and conventional medications and
- Why compounding can be an excellent option for some people.
An essential nutrient is a substance that the body requires but which it cannot produce itself. Vitamins and essential minerals are used continuously by the body for multiple purposes such as
- energy and metabolism
- Making and maintaining blood, skin, muscle and bone,
- Making Genetic material, proteins and enzymes to support cell growth and reproduction.
- Supporting the body’s physical and cognitive capabilities.
[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”12px”][vc_empty_space height=”12px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Essential Vitamins, Minerals and Fatty Acids include:[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”12px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]Vitamins
Vitamin K[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]Minerals
Zinc[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]Fatty Acids
A-Linolenic Acid (Omega-3)
Linoleic Acid (Omega-6)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]Amino Acids
Histidine[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Australian Health and Wellness Recommendations
The government recommendation is a minimum of five serves per day of vegetables and two serves per day of fruit to meet the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals required to help prevent disease.
Recent national nutrition surveys indicate that most Australians fall short of the recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals. Nutrient shortfalls have health consequences that could impact daily life and overall wellbeing.
The surveys sourced from the Australian Bauru of Statics (ABS) tell us 50% of adults and 68% of children ate sufficient serves of fruit, and 7% of adults and 5% of children ate adequate serves of vegetables. Adults aged 65–74, 60% had a sufficient fruit intake, and 11% had an adequate vegetable intake. Children aged 2–3, 97% ate enough serves of fruit, and 20% ate sufficient serves of vegetables. Overall, 5% of adults had an adequate intake of both fruit and vegetables. Women were more likely to eat enough fruit and vegetables than men (8% compared with 3%).
Dosing of Natural products
Many of the supplements available on the market are formulated as compounds called “salts”. For example, Magnesium Oxide is a different “salt” to magnesium citrate or Magnesium Glycinate. Each of these compounds will have an unusual amount of Magnesium in them, known as elemental Magnesium. For example, 1g of Magnesium Oxide will have a different amount of elemental Magnesium compared to 1g of Magnesium Glycinate. To be precise 1g of Magnesium Oxide contains 0.61g of elemental Magnesium (61%) whereas Magnesium Glycinate contains 0.141g (14.1%).
However, this does not mean that you get more elemental Magnesium from taking Magnesium Oxide. Your body will affect different chemicals in different ways, leading to less or more absorption into your bloodstream. Factors such as molecule size, the water solubility of the molecule, pH (acidity), etc.… will determine how much of the mineral will be absorbed. In fact, you are more likely to consume more elemental Magnesium out of Magnesium Glycinate than Magnesium Oxide because Magnesium Glycinate is a better-absorbed form of Magnesium.
Dosing and Indications
When you take a mineral or a vitamin, the dose matters. This is because simply a different dose is required for various ailments. For example, if we continue with the Magnesium example, Magnesium is indicated for multiple diseases. Each illness such as cramps, High Blood Pressure, PMS, migraines and others require a different dose of Magnesium.
These are some examples of the dosage required for different ailments.
Night Cramps: 300mg of Elemental Magnesium daily
Migraine Prevention: 300mg of Elemental Magnesium daily with other B Vitamins
High Blood Pressure: 300-600mg of Elemental Magnesium daily
PMS: 260mg of Elemental Magnesium Daily
The Evidence of Complementary Medicine
In Complementary medicine, as with all medication, knowledge was initially held by practitioners and based on careful observations collected over time, that education was practised. Eventually, practitioners wrote down their findings and some produced textbooks. However, in the last century with the advance of scientific evidence and research. The expectation of proof has been amplified. Today medications are expected to go through trials in the lab and if successful large-scale testing is performed on large patient numbers before the medicine is available on the market. However, complementary medicines still draw evidence from the traditional method that was gathered from observations by practitioners over the centuries before the scientific advances. However, there are large scale scientific studies with certain complementary medicines. Hence, as the reader can appreciate the level and quality of evidence will vary significantly from one complementary medication to another. Best to ask your practitioner what is the level of evidence before starting a complementary medicine.
Combined with a healthy diet, the rational use of nutritional supplements may substantially contribute to health promotion and disease prevention at all stages of life. These are some examples:
- Prenatal multivitamins with minerals are commonly prescribed to address increased nutrient needs during pregnancy and to protect against some birth defects.
- Calcium and vitamin D help build optimum bone mass during childhood and adolescence and also reduce the rate of bone loss that naturally occurs with aging.
- Vitamin and mineral supplements have been shown to improve immune function in adults and the elderly.
- Antioxidant supplements have been shown to have a positive impact on eye health and cognitive function in the elderly.
In addition to treating nutritional deficiencies, nutrients can also be used therapeutically to address the many underlying physical factors that contribute to disease. Nutrients can regulate the levels of essential chemicals in the body, influence hormonal balance, reduce inflammation, improve immune function, reduce levels of toxic elements, reduce oxidative stress, and alter gene expression.
If there is one thing a patient/consumer should ask their pharmacist about complementary medicines, it is drug interactions. Complimentary medications can interact with conventional prescription or non-prescription medications.
Many different drug interactions could take place between complementary and conventional medications. Still, they can be categorised under 2 categories.
- What the body does to the medication(s).
- What the medication(s) does to the body.
1.What the body does to the medications drug interactions.
When a person takes a medicine (conventional or complimentary), the body will absorb it into the bloodstream. The body will distribute it to all different body parts. Break it down (metabolism) by the liver to remove any harmful chemicals and then excrete it through the kidney or the liver. As you can imagine, some medications can disturb these processes of absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion. If a complementary medicine, for example, induces a liver enzyme by making it work harder, this may lead to an increased breakdown of a conventional medication. Such an instance occurs between St. John’s Wort and Digoxin. St. John’s Wort is a complementary medicine used for major depression, but it induces an enzyme called P-gp. P-gp is an enzyme system in the liver responsible for breaking down (metabolising) Digoxin, a medication used for patients with heart failure and heart rhythm disorders. By taking St. John’s Wort with Digoxin, this will lead to a decreased level of Digoxin. Since P-gp is induced by St. John’s Wort leading to a more rapid breakdown of Digoxin. In such cases, the patient may need to stop St. John’s Wort or find an alternative or increase the dose of Digoxin if the doctor wishes to continue the therapy of both medications.
2.What the medication(s) does to the body type of interaction.
The reason we take medication is to have a physiological effect on our body. Examples of such ideas may be to lower the blood pressure or dilate our blood vessels or increase the flow of urine etc….
For instance, taking a complementary medicine and conventional medicine which both dilate the blood vessels will have a doubling effect. Such example is Ginkgo Bilboa, a complementary medicine used as an anti-oxidant and Nifedipine, which is a prescription medicine used to lower high blood pressure. They both dilate our blood vessels. Taking them together will lead to a double effect. Having over dilated blood vessels may lead to headaches or a racing heart!
Compounding and Nutraceuticals
Compounding of complementary medicines, especially nutrients, can be of great benefit for some patients. Compounding can often reduce the number of capsules required, as multiple nutrients can be incorporated into one capsule or liquid. Compounding can also be used when fillers or sugars or preservatives or allergens need to be removed from a commercial product. Compounding can be of use even when a specific dose is required. Last but not least compounding can be used to adjust flavour and palatability.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]