Am I taking too many supplements?

Q: Influenced by various newsletters, including yours, I have bought and take on a daily basis about 20 different supplements. I would like to make sure that these supplements do not pose a risk due to their combination effects, or in their interactions with foods that I eat. Do you have in your archives any articles that address this subject comprehensively, or can you direct me to a reliable source of such information? Thank you. —  K.D., Smithsburg, MD

Dr. Micozzi:  Thank you for your question. I cannot speak for other newsletters, but I do see a lot of misinformation and faulty recommendations from both non-medical, natural-know-it-alls and Johnny-come-lately physicians who have suddenly “just discovered” nutrition and natural approaches. That’s a major reason why I began publishing Insiders’ Cures in 2012.

The topic of supplement and herb interactions with food and drugs is complex, and the research is not as thorough as it could be. I’ve found that medical literature is the most authoritative source.

I recommend my own textbook, Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, published by Elsevier Health Sciences. It has been in print continuously for 20 years as the standard source for natural medicines for health professionals. And the fifth edition has just been released, so you’ll get the most up-to-date information possible (now available on www.drmicozzi.com under “Shop”). When you’re evaluating other newsletters, do a little background check on the authors’ qualifications. Find out what medical textbooks they have written that are being used by health professionals, if any. I suspect after you see their “credentials,” you’ll find that you can get along with fewer subscriptions—and fewer questionable supplement recommendations from these self-anointed “experts.”

So what do I recommend? Well, I can’t recommend any supplements except my own Smart Science formulations because I don’t have and would not be able to get the quality information and due diligence on them that I require for my own. But first and foremost, I recommend an individualized approach to health. Especially when it comes to herbal supplements. I’ll always give you the latest science about natural remedies here in Insiders’ Cures. But not every supplement I discuss is right for every person. Which is why it’s always a smart idea to have a solid, trusting relationship with a physician who is knowledgeable in both conventional and complementary medicine. Such a professional can help you determine which supplements are appropriate for your particular needs and concerns. To locate such a physician in your area, contact the American College for Advancement in Medicine (www.acam.org) or the International College of Integrative Medicine (www.icimed.com).

That said, given all the problems with modern foods and diets, I think everyone can benefit from a daily supplement regimen of 5,000 IU of vitamin D, a high-quality B vitamin complex, and 100 grams of Co-Q10 (ubiquinol) as a good foundation.

And avoid those ridiculous, poor quality, daily “multivitamins,” and stay away from supplements with iron unless you have been diagnosed by a physician with iron-deficiency anemia.


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