Custom vitamins & personalized supplements demystified
Advertisements are everywhere for custom vitamins, personalized supplements, and vitamins tailored to you. But are these supplements really worth the hype, and do they give us more benefits than our regular multivitamin?
Dr. Sandy Le, a naturopathic doctor with Ciba Health, answers our burning questions about personalized vitamins and supplements.
What’s the hype behind these tailor-made supplements?
Many tailor-made supplement companies are popping up because of a rise in preventative medicine, and an emphasis on a nutrigenomic approach to medicine. So not only are using someone’s genetics to inform medical decisions, but you’re also delving deeper into their lab work. This will allow your doctor to see exactly what nutrients your body is lacking.
You can then create a specific supplement to optimize those levels. When you buy a multivitamin over the counter, the dosages you get are intact. You and your neighbor could take the same dose. But if we all went in and got blood work done, you would have different vitamin B levels or magnesium levels or different mineral levels than your neighbor.
So the cool thing about these personalized supplements is they’re creating a supplement based on your individualized needs and based upon your blood work.
Should I invest in personalized supplements? Is it really worth it?
It really depends on the person. You have some people who are super healthy, whose genes are amazing, and who don’t have any issues with absorption. They probably wouldn’t need a personalized supplement. But if you are someone who experiences chronic conditions or complains about fatigue, difficulty focusing, or you have leaky gut, for instance, you would really benefit from taking customized supplements that directly address your medical issue.
What is the relationship between functional medicine and personalized supplements?
Using supplements or nutraceuticals instead of universally using prescription medication is a type of modality, that is used in functional medicine. When someone’s coming in to my office for a certain condition or they have a chronic disease, I run all of your diagnostics to see what’s going on, and by utilizing supplements, we can begin treating what’s going on. That’s where functional medicine goes hand in hand with custom vitamins.
Not only are you looking at a person’s lifestyle and diet and fixing things on that end, but you’re also giving them this support through supplements, herbs, and nutrition. It’s also important to make sure that their supplements, lifestyle and diet isn’t contraindicated in the medications that they’re taking.
When should I consider taking supplements? What sort of supplements would be beneficial to overall health?
First and foremost, you would have to set up shop with a licensed functional medicine doctor or naturopathic doctor to get labs done. They would gather all that information and then see if you’re on any medications to recommend any supplementation.
Typically, though, the most common vitamins that are generally safe for people to add-on would be vitamin C, vitamin D, and magnesium, which are in fish oil. Those are generally pretty safe things to add, but of course you always want to check with your healthcare provider and your doctor to make sure that’s okay.