Nutritional Supplements: Examining the Evidence

Each month of 2016 from March to December I will be reviewing a common nutritional supplement and the evidence for its use. There are a number of supplements which I routinely recommend to my patients, several of which I also take. Last month I introduced the concept of “Pagdin’s Picks” which will be on display in a number of outlets throughout the Okanagan including pharmacies and health food stores. Be sure to stop by the display each month where you will have the chance to enter a draw for a 90-day supply of that particular supplement. The Grand Prize at the end of the year, selected from all entries, is a $500 credit for Pagdin Health Services including Anti-Aging, Bioidentical Hormone Replacement, Stem Cell Medicine, and ThermiVa Vaginal Rejuvination.

There are a limited list of supplements with documented benefit, and there are a huge number of products out there with little to no evidence that they are helpful at all. It is important that you examine the evidence and seek reliable information, including your doctor’s advice, before spending any money on supplements.

When taking supplements it is important to consider the following:
– Just because a substance is “natural” does not mean it is beneficial or harmless
– There can be side effects
– There can be interactions with other herbs or drugs
– Dosage and purity can be uncertain
– They may be unnecessary and of no benefit
– There may be a safer, more reliable, and cheaper alternative available.
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One of the reasons why supplementing certain nutrients makes sense is that today’s fruits and vegetables, even meat and poultry, don’t have nearly the nutrients they once used to. The US Department of Agriculture released data comparing the nutrient composition of fruits and vegetables in 2005 compared to 1975, showing some staggering data:
Apples now contain 41% less Vitamin A
Peppers now contain 31% less Vitamin C
Watercress now contains 88% less Iron
Broccoli now contains 50% less Calcium and Vitamin A
Cauliflower contains 45% less Vit C, 48% less Vit B1 and 47% less Vit B2
Collard Greens have 45% less Vit A, 60% less Potassium and 85% less Magnesium

There are a couple of important minerals that are very difficult to find in food today due to the current farming methods. No longer do fields lie fallow or are crops rotated, but instead there is a reliance on synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. One such mineral in short supply today is chromium, important for blood sugar metabolism. Another is selenium, important for prostate health. The only food source that reliably contains selenium nowadays is the Brazil nut.

Stay tuned throughout 2016 as we examine my Top Ten Nutritional Supplements, one each month, and examine the medical evidence for their use.

Your Partner in Living Longer Better,

Dr. Grant Pagdin, MD

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Dr. Grant Pagdin

Dr. Pagdin is a leading expert in regenerative medicine in Western Canada. Dr. Pagdin is board-certified with the American Academy of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine (ABAARM) and a Fellow of the Interventional Orthobiologics Foundation. His primary interest is preventative and anti-aging medicine using stem cell and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments.

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