Supplement Perspectives
supplements

With Supplement Dosage, One Size Doesn't Fit All

Regular contributor Dr. C. Leigh Broadhurst explains how self-imposed dosage limitations unnecessarily ground supplement manufacturers.

An overlooked major issue in utilizing nutrition supplements—in particular herbal medicines—in lieu of pharmaceutical treatments is that we follow a one-size-fits-all approach for dosages. The correct way to prescribe either a drug or a natural alternative is with a sliding scale based on a person’s age, gender and body weight. The research studies used to design the sliding scales are known as “dose-response” studies. Any new pharmaceutical approved for general sale will have undergone a series of tests with both animals and people where levels of the drugs from zero (placebo) to fairly high are administered. In the case of animals, the levels will be high enough to show toxicity.

In this manner, a ratio of the drug weight to body weight that yields a measurable health benefit/outcome while minimizing side effects is determined. Although it seems downright obvious, not too many stop to think that the Ibuprofen dose an NFL offensive lineman needs after Sunday night’s game is far greater than what your grandma takes for her arthritis. Another easy analogy is alcohol consumption: I would hope that your grandma doesn’t routinely drink football players under the table! We determine legal drunkenness not by the number of drinks you’ve had, but by your resultant blood alcohol level.

We rarely have the luxury of dose-response studies on natural products. Your research staff should always be on the lookout for newly published ones, and I recommend dose-response approaches if you finance your own research. Otherwise, without an actual prescription, legal, ethical, and trade issues dictate that the lowest dosage that may be effective is placed on the label. This results in tens of thousands of larger adults finding a good product ineffective. Sadly, many of these people are the ones who could most benefit from safer, natural treatments for diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, weight loss, etc. Even daily Vitamin C should be dosed up by about 500 mg per 50 pounds! (Personally, I use 1,000 mg per 50 pounds., which has resulted in zero colds/influenza/bronchitis for 17 straight years.)

The concept of sliding scale dosages can be explained through point-of-sale advice from store personnel and third-party literature. This requires that your research staff provides guidelines and training, and be willing to put their butts on the line. Sometimes legal reasons will simply prevent recommendations other than label directions. However, you can work with products that list a dosage range (i.e., take 2-4 capsules twice a day), and politely inform the customer that he or she is in the “top end” range.

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