Thursday, November 29, 2012

Are vitamins and minerals safe in higher doses?

In last months article "The bioavailability revolution" we looked at some factors in choosing an effective nutritional supplement for multi-vitamin and minerals and at how many people are not meeting their Recommended Daily Allowance because of many factors such as the depletion of nutrients from our soils and modern farming and food processing techniques.

For those who choose to supplement their diet with a high quality multi-vitamin mineral formula, feedback we hear relatively often is, "I don't like taking too many capsules". In this article we will look at the relative risks of taking natural dietary supplements compared to other known risks. We’ll discuss the risks of taking too many vitamins and minerals compared to the risks of taking too few, in reference to established government safety levels.

To make it more relevant we will reference the ingredients and dosages in Naturezone Micronutritionals Self Defence and CNE, and we will also discuss data which relates to the safety of natural health products in general (including vitamins, minerals, and herbs) compared with the safety risks from various other causes.

Perhaps the best way to put natural health product supplement safety into perspective is to compare it with other known risks we can easily relate to.

In a country like New Zealand in the last 30 there is not a single known case of someone dying from taking a natural health product, but in order to compare it with other more well known risks we can imagine for a population like the United States for every 1 person who dies from taking a natural health product, 5 people die from being struck by lightning, about 100 people die from electrocution, 900 people die from eating food (either choking on it or having an adverse reaction to something like peanuts), more than 6,000 people die in car accidents, nearly 50,000 people die in motorcycle accidents, and nearly 100,000 people die from a reaction to a prescription drug.

In light of the fact that nearly 75% of the US population use some form of natural health products, you can see that supplements, in general, are extremely safe. Minerals and vitamins, in particular, are even safer. This though is hardly surprising because they are in all the foods we eat and are essential for life.

To give you another important vision of what nutrient safety really means, we’ve adapted this chart from the US Institute of Medicine to put safety in a broader context. This will give you a much better idea of how safety is determined by scientists and how supplements can play an important role in safeguarding your health by optimising nutrient intake.

We’ll walk you through the chart.

The risk of deficiency

The red curved line on the left represents the risks of inadequate nutrient intake. At any point along this red line, you are at considerable risk of serious illness caused by nutrient deficiency because your diet may not be meeting your body's basic requirements for health.

The safe zone

The green flat line represents “safe” nutrient intake. It makes sense that nutrients would have this safe zone, because they are essential for everyone’s bodies to function. For most nutrients, there is a long, flat green “meadow” of safety between what is known as the Recommended Daily Allowance (the RDA) and the safe upper level, which the Institute of Medicine calls the UL or Tolerable Upper Intake Level. You’ll notice that the safe upper level is still in the green. According to the Institute of Medicine, it is set at a level that is likely to pose “no risk of adverse health effects for almost all individuals”. The safe upper level is set very conservatively to ensure that in every possible situation (with the exception of certain rare medical conditions) a person could take this level for a lifetime without any danger whatsoever. Again, each nutrient in Naturezone Micronutritionals is below established safe upper levels. In setting safe upper levels for each nutrient, the US Institute of Medicine reviews all of the available medical literature looking for any reported adverse effects that have resulted from the intake of that nutrient.

The risk of excessive intake

Between the safe upper level and the red line, there is often a large zone of continued safe intake, where no adverse effects have ever been observed by scientists. Some vitamins are so safe that the US Institute of Medicine has not set any safe upper level for them. For these vitamins, there would be no red curve on the right (which represents danger of excessive intake).

Other nutrients do have a limit where there is danger of excessive intake and here’s an example of a nutrient that children could get too much of which shows how high these levels are compared to what is found in a supplement like Self Defence and CNE. On the labels for Self Defence and CNE there’s an FDA-required iron warning that appears on every iron-containing supplement, regardless of the level of iron. We’ll give you a little more information about this so you understand what iron levels would be fatal for a child. In cases documented by US Poison Control Centers, children who have died from taking iron supplements have taken more than 60 mg of iron per kilogram of body weight, which is more than a 1-year-old child would get from an entire bottle of Naturezone Micronutritionals CNE, eaten all at once!  So the risk to a child from iron overdose in taking CNE or Self Defence is extremely remote. For healthy adults, who have much more body weight, there is no risk

In summary, you can see that the safest level of each nutrient is your own personal optimal intake level—somewhere above the RDA and below established safe upper levels. Naturezone Micronutritionals are designed to deliver optimal nutrient levels when you take it at recommended levels with a healthy diet.

What this means for a supplement like Self Defence or CNE

Now that we’ve reviewed the safety and benefits of the levels of vitamins, minerals, and other value-added ingredients in Naturezone Micronutritionals,  let’s talk briefly about the recommended daily dose. For your optimal health, we recommended that you take 4 capsules of Self Defence or 6 capsules of CNE per day. This may seem like a lot, compared to other multi-vitamin supplements. However, in formulating Naturezone Micronutritionals our primary goal was to deliver results, not just to make the ingredients fit into one or two capsules. Our recommended levels are based on extensive research conducted on our vitamin-mineral formulations over more than a decade. We’re confident that if you take these recommended safe levels designed to optimise your health, you will quickly find that there is no comparison. The health benefits you will see will be worth it.

In conclusion, there is plenty of good evidence that taking a supplement like Naturezone Micronutritionals as directed on the label is very safe. Perhaps the most important reason is that it can help you get an optimal level of each essential nutrient for your personal needs. This eliminates the very real risks of nutrient deficiency, which can cause serious, chronic health consequences. So it’s clearly much safer to take a supplement like Naturezone Micronutritionals Self Defence or CNE at the recommended dosage rather than than not to take it or take a smaller dosage.


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