By: Harry G. Preuss MD, MACN, CNS
Professor of Biochemistry, Medicine, Physiology, & Pathology
Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington D.C. 20057
Following our previous two earlier reports in the current series dealing with body composition and compliance, we are near ready to directly discuss individual natural dietary supplements — especially those associated with fat loss, stress reduction, augmented energy, and anti-aging. However, additional essential considerations to contemplate prior to initiating specific discussion on individual ingredients and formulas exist. Why? Because these essential considerations are frequently associated with avoidable failure in the effort to obtain a successful outcome.
First, while a perfectly reasonable dietary supplement acquired from one supplier may work, this is not necessarily the case when obtained from another source.
There are many reasons for this. Unfortunately, single ingredients and formulas not infrequently do not include the dose of effective ingredients as stated on the label.
Hoodia, a well-recognized weight loss ingredient in the past, is a perfect example. Many years ago, much Hoodia being sold proved counterfeit. It took time before this was revealed. Also, the active ingredient may be in a form that is poorly bioavailable, i.e., incapable of being readily absorbed and functional?
In the case of hydroxycitric acid (HCA) supplements derived from Garcinia cambogia that are so trendy in the market place, the attached mineral or electrolyte can affect the bioavailability. Accordingly, an HCA compound containing only a calcium attached charge is poorly absorbed when compared to one that replaces some calcium with potassium or magnesium. In any case, this can alter the correct dosing, as the more poorly absorbed supplements must be given in larger doses to compensate.
The important message here is to acquire natural dietary supplements exclusively from a reliable manufacturer and/or seek advice from a trustworthy professional.
Second, as mentioned above, use the correct dose properly.
If the guidelines say to take two pills three times a day 30 minutes prior to meals, that’s the regimen that should be carried out — not a single pill taken twice a day at any time. The dosing can be influenced by the configuration of the active compound as discussed above.
To give a well-known example, we can use HCA once more as the case in point. For many years, the generally used dose resulted from an early research paper in the literature showing success. Nevertheless, erratic results were obtained when the usual, accepted dose at that time was implemented.
Based on experiences of providers in the field, we reexamined dosing and realized that the HCA compound being assessed was consistently successful only at higher doses. Also, it is important to recognize whether a particular supplement should be taken on an empty or full stomach.
You can have the best product in the world; and if you don’t take it properly, it will perform like a dud.
To summarize, one can prescribe the ideal supplement for success, but in order to be effective, it must be of the best quality, be used in the proper dose, and the product should be taken according to instructions. Also, obtain products from those that can be trusted. However, even the best supplements managed properly will not always work on everybody. That last fact provides no reason that a supplement should not be available to others where they can be effective.