Why we don’t recommend self-supplementing

If you’re spending money on supplements, you want to know they’re going to benefit you and you’re not just paying for an expensive wee.



Please don’t take supplements because they’re popular or have been recommended by a social media influencer. They could be fine, but there are so many reasons why this can be a waste of your hard-earned money and sometimes harmful to your health.


We don’t advise self supplementing and here’s why! 


Warning! Interactions with medications  

Some supplements can have adverse interactions if taken alongside certain medications. That’s because everything has to be processed through the liver (yep, I mean everything!).


Certain supplements can disrupt the way medications are managed by the body which could cause issues. Even natural supplements can have potent ingredients that lead to serious interactions. 


Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s totally safe. After all, snake venom is natural but I’ll pass on that one.


The timing of the dosage matters too. You may need to adjust when you take certain supplements if you’re on a particular medication to avoid interactions and reduced medicine efficacy (aka how well it works). Food and drink can sometimes interact too.  


I know what you’re thinking, it sounds like a minefield, and it is. This is why it’s always best to get professional advice. 


Is it just expensive wee?

Not all supplements are created equal. Depending on the quality of the ingredients, some supplements have greater bioavailability than others. Bioavailability refers to the amount of a nutrient that can be absorbed in the intestines and available for the body to use. 


Bioavailability can be affected by different factors, including ingredients and quality. High-quality supplements are formulated for greater bioavailability. The nutrients they contain are less likely to be damaged or destroyed by stomach acid. 

They may cost more or they may not, the price point doesn’t always equate to quality, but they also have more chance of being used by the body for the required purpose. If you’re going to buy supplements you want them to be appropriate for you and to work.


Many cheaper supplements contain significant amounts of binders and fillers. Unsurprisingly, they have reduced bioavailability. We need binders to some extent but cheap, low-quality supplements can be as much as 50% filler! The less active ingredients they contain, the less effective you can expect them to be. When that happens, you’re just paying for expensive wee.


Don’t skimp on quality

It isn’t merely fillers and binders that affect the quality of supplements. The quality of the ingredient source matters just as much.


Omega 3 fish oil is a good example. It’s a delicate fat and can turn rancid if left in store for too long or exposed to too much light (cue transparent bottles on shop shelves). Equally the source of the fish oil matters too. If the fish has been living in polluted waters, that’s what we then consume in the supplement. Not a nice thought, I know!


There’s an old wives tale that rancid fish oil can lead to burping and there is some truth in it. If fish oil oxidises enough to turn rancid, the “fishy” taste can pack a punch and repeat on you! As well as being unpleasant, you also receive fewer health benefits. I’ve experienced “fishy burps” for myself in the past – but not since I clued up and switched brands!


How much is too much or too little? 

We always want supplement doses to be the most appropriate dose for your symptoms. If you’re self-supplementing, you can easily take more than you need. It’s very individual and you can have too much of a good thing. Some seemingly innocent supplements, like vitamin A, calcium, zinc and vitamin D, can be toxic if we have high levels in our blood. This is why I often recommend testing before taking certain supplements. 


You could also be taking too little for your specific purpose, which reduces the chance of it helping you – and you’re just spending money with no results. 


This is even true for vitamin D supplements. With the lack of sunlight here in the UK in the winter months, many people have insufficient levels of vitamin D. Government guidelines suggest taking 400 IU per day but that’s a very (very!) low dose for the majority of us.


The amount you need will depend on your current levels and it’s an easy test to get. The absorption of vitamin D also depends on other nutrients like magnesium, calcium and fat. But don’t go buying more supplements without guidance from a registered professional. You could waste more money or cause yourself harm. 


Do you actually need supplements?


If you’re eating for good health, you may not even need supplements. But it’s not always as simple as that. Our soil doesn’t contain the same nutrients because of pesticides and we don’t get what we used to from our food. 


Along with early harvesting and forced ripening, it’s safe to say that you may not be getting as many nutrients as you think. In this scenario, supplementing can fill in gaps in nutrition. 


Some people will always need certain supplements due to existing health conditions. But supplementing when you don’t need it can potentially be harmful to your health. 


If you want to look at supplements, speak to us at Integral Wellness, especially if you’re on medications. We can advise on your nutritional needs and where appropriate, recommend tests to look at nutrient levels. 


Why we can’t give you supplement advice in social media DMs

Please don’t drop into the inbox with questions about which supplements to take because we can’t provide recommendations over email or social media. We want to help as many people as possible improve their health but it’s irresponsible for us to blanket recommend supplements without knowing more about you. 


If you’re not a client, we won’t know your full medical history, symptoms or goals, which is so important for bespoke recommendations. 


At Integral Wellness, our clients fill in a detailed report about their symptoms, health history and lifestyle, which enables us to make personalised protocols for specific nutrition and supplements.

Often, we will do functional testing to pinpoint what’s causing symptoms. Where appropriate, supplements are recommended. 


Take a look at our Wellness Checks and 1:1 programmes to see how we can get on top of your health issues and help you thrive.   

Interested in getting personalised support with supplements?

As Registered Nutritional Therapists, we can help you to determine which supplements may be most appropriate for you (if any!).

Book a no-obligation complementary call to discuss your specific needs. 

Start spending your money on the things that make you feel better and benefit your health!