Myth Busting Episode 2 – Misconceptions about Vitamins and Supplements
LAST UPDATED: February 14, 2022
Adam Pivko, Co-Founder of Autumn DNA: Mythbuster Series 2 with the amazing Tony and Anna, super excited to have you guys. The topic today that we’re going to be discussing is supplements and vitamins. Do they work? Don’t they work? There’s a lot of misconceptions out on the internet about supplements and vitamins just not working. And perhaps it’s true for certain people. Perhaps it’s not. So really we wanted to get to the bottom of it with these two amazing people on our scientific Advisory Board. So why don’t we just take a second really quickly?
Anna Kantzavelos, PA-C: Absolutely Adam. And, you know, I just thank you for having us on, it’s the topic we’re really passionate about. Tony and I have been both healthcare providers for nearly two decades. I’ve been a Physician’s Assistant since 2004, and we own our own brick and mortar pharmacy— we’re a husband-and-wife power team and really passionate about this topic.
Adam: Awesome, and Tony, what about you?
Dr. Tony Kantzavelos, Pharm.D.: My name is Tony Kantzavelos and, like Anna said, we are a power-husband-and-wife team. We do own our own brick and mortar pharmacy, like Anna said, and we love what we do. I mean, we like getting to the root cause or problems. Even though I’m a pharmacist, I don’t like prescribing medications. You know, if we can try and treat these things more naturally, just through lifestyle and diet then that’s what we want to do. And that’s why we try to always educate our patients about the other options out there rather than just giving pharmaceuticals.
Do vitamins and supplements even work?
Adam: Let’s dive right into it. You know, the myth that we’re looking to bust today is that vitamins and supplements don’t work. So do they or don’t they?
Tony: Adam, absolutely they work. I mean, I’m a big proponent of supplementation. We recommend it to many of our patients, depending on, you know, their lifestyle and their diet, and where they’re at in their lives. But you know, we’re big proponents. We definitely recommend them, but they’re not for everybody. So that’s the tricky part. You know, if you’re taking vitamins, you don’t need to take supplements, they can actually have a negative effect on your body.
Anna: And the other part of that is that sometimes you might have […] a genetic mutation, which is why we love what Autumn does— it takes both the lifestyle and the DNA and merges them together. Sometimes you need extra supplementation of something, because you’re not able to absorb it as much. So they absolutely work, but one size does not fit all.
How soon should the average person expect a vitamin to start working?
Tony: I mean, that honestly depends on the patient. You know, there’s many factors that we have to consider. You know, number one, are they going to be compliant? Number two, the quality of the product. Number three, like Anna touched on before, they might have some genetic mutations or genetic issues that they’re not quite absorbing that product the way they should be. A popular one is MTHFR mutations. There’s hundreds of MTHFR genetic mutations, and we see that on a daily basis with our patients, where they just can’t absorb certain B vitamins. So you’ve got to make sure you’re giving them the methylated form so they can absorb those vitamins, that they are getting the purity from those products, and the therapeutics will show on its own through further testing. You’ll see whether or not you need to tweak a protocol, or you need to stay on that protocol.
Anna: Well, we always also recommended that you test, right? You test to see where your levels are, and then you can reassess after a few months. Vitamin D is a huge one, and especially now, I’m so thankful that it’s coming to the forefront of people’s minds, is how important Vitamin D is. And that’s when you can easily test your levels. Most people are probably deficient, especially if you’re North America. Take it for a few months and retest it and see, Do you need to go up in your dose? Do you need to take more IUs everyday? Or maybe sometimes there’s a weekly option as well? So it’s very easy for some of these things to be able to test and see how you’re doing.
How do vitamins work in your body?
Adam: The real question is, you know, thinking about some of the most common vitamins that are out there in the marketplace— how do they work in your body? Can you give some scientific insight into that process?
Tony: Vitamins are small, little molecules, and our body requires these small, little molecules for certain processes to take place, for certain enzymatic reactions to take place, for certain chemical reactions to take place in the body. For example, if a patient comes into our pharmacy one day and says, you know, I’m tired, I don’t have the energy level that I once had. One thing that we can do, we can give them the required micronutrients and vitamins that they need for their body to produce more ATP. So now they can have some more energy. And that is the same with immune health. If they want to enhance their immune system, there are certain micronutrients that your body needs in order to allow those processes to take place. So now you can enhance that immune system.
Adam: Great answer, you summarized it very simply for anybody who could be potentially watching this. So thank you.
What should I look for in a supplement bottle?
Adam: Synthetics are fine. There’s really nothing to be too concerned with about synthetic vitamins. Not all of them are made equally, I shouldn’t be judging them by logos or colors of bottles, or how they fit my decor. What do I look for in a bottle? You know, what should I look out for? What’s an area of concern when choosing vitamins?
Tony: So, Adam, obviously, look at the inactive ingredients that we talked about earlier, right? You don’t want a grocery list of inactive ingredients, such as dairy, gluten, corn and titanium dioxide. I tell my patients anything with the word oxide in it, or cyanocobalamin— it’s not good for you. Look the other way and get a better vitamin, you know? And I also tell some of our patients, sometimes the higher end products will have a little logos and labels on there, showing quality seals, or that they’ve been third-party tested. Just eyeballing real quick to see if that company has done their due diligence and has gone above and beyond just to reassure the patients and the public that it is a safe product, it’s not going to harm you in any way. Yes, it might not be as effective, you know, because we don’t know the makeup of the body, and how each patient is made up. But if you can do due diligence by just looking at the bottle, looking for the symbols, and even sometimes calling the manufacturer and saying, “hey, do you have a certificate of analysis?” There’s some companies that are like, “What’s a C of A?” If they don’t know what a C of A is, you should rule them out