Vitamins and minerals

Initially Naturopathy meant Natural medicine, herbalism, homeopathy, physical therapy, diet and fasting — yet today it seems to have become or to mean almost exclusively vitamin and mineral supplement therapy. I think this is a bit sad, and reflects the commercial proliferation of the Vitamin and supplement industry, in the same way as the pharmaceutical industry and funding has come to dominate and be the primary influence in mainstream healthcare.

One of my old (Naturopath / osteopath) mentors used to say: ‘if a little is good, more is not better.’ Nutritional supplements are not licensed or restricted (as some herbs or drugs are) because they are considered ‘nutritional’ i.e. foods.

The profit motive and merchandising of Nutritional supplement manufacturers (with their sales reps, doing what all sales reps do) is to maximise sales and their own revenues. The same is true about many internet sites — they are for sales, and any technical information may not be completely objective and impartial.

So do we all need to take supplements in large quantities as our modern consumer society has almost brainwashed us to do? ‘Megavitamin therapy’ is a term invented by the supplement industry, more than naturopaths. Perhaps they do have a point, in that our food has become denatured — yet impartial research into ‘organically’ grown food, shows little nutritional advantage in spite of the much higher production costs and quality control costs involved in growing organic. I suspect the reality is that the body will take what it needs for its own growth, metabolic processes and tissue repair — and the rest will simply be discarded. True vitamin deficiency, whilst of course it can and does exist, is rare — if someone eats a balanced healthy diet.

There are also potential issues of decreasing the bioavailability and absorption of one nutrient in taking (an excess of) another. So it does make sense to talk to a practitioner (naturopath or pharmacist) rather than just buy a lot of something from a shop in mega doses without understanding exactly why you’re taking it, and other effects that supplement could have, when taken in the long term.

Also bear in mind that someone trained to try to sell you something — or worse — sell you as much as possible — is not going to give truly impartial objective information and advice. It’s not ‘one size fits all’, and if ‘a little is good — more is not better.’ Do not believe everything you read on internet sites — and remember that it’s mostly advertising. Yes, some products are helpful — but it’s worth seeing a naturopath, or nutritionist (at least once) to get the highest quality information, relevant to yourself as an individual.



christchurch   osteopathy   acupuncture

mike inman   osteopath


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