Kirkman's Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQs About Hypoallergenic Products and Allergies
FAQs About Immune Problems and Issues
FAQs About Probiotics

Our Most Frequently Asked Question:
How Do We Get Them To Take It?

Getting your child to take nutritional supplements, especially if your special needs child only eats spaghetti or french fries, can be difficult.Our most frequently asked question at Kirkman® is, "How do you get your children to take the supplements that they need. Some must take many supplements at once and/or many times during the day?" This can pose further challenges. Over the years, we developed some helpful hints to make it easier to give your child supplements. We hope these suggestions help.

Supplements may be:

  • mixed with chocolate syrup or cocoa
  • mixed with peanut, cashew or almond butter
  • mixed in jelly
  • mixed in fruit juice (orange, apple, lemonade, grape, pear)
  • mixed in baby food
  • mixed in ketchup
  • mixed with spaghetti sauce after it has been cooked
  • used in yogurt, pudding, or sorbet
  • used to make a fruit smoothie or protein drink (rice or soy)
  • used in popsicles (vitamins are especially good to add)
  • used in rice crispy treats
  • sprinkled on cooked scrambled eggs
  • sprinkled on products that are not heat sensitive
  • liquid supplements can be hidden in other liquid drinks

FAQs about Hypoallergenic Products and Allergies

Q: What is an allergy?
A: An allergy is an exaggerated or inappropriate immune response to a substance.

Q: Can you see all of the allergies or sensitivities that a person may have? Do you always know when an individual is reacting and, if so, what they are reacting to?
A: No, a person's allergic reaction can manifest itself in many different ways. It is not always noticeable by an outward reaction, but rather may cause behavioral, gastrointestinal, or less observable disturbances. Unless the diet and environment are very carefully controlled, it is very difficult to know what an individual is reacting to.

Q: Can allergies vary from time to time?
A: If the allergy is based on a seasonal occurrence or a periodic environmental allergen, it can vary from time to time, but once the body recognizes a substance as an allergen, it generally is an allergen forever.

Q: Can an individual become allergic to something that they weren't allergic to before? Is there a way to avoid this?
A: Compromised immune systems often display a shift in "T" cell activity. Th1 cells that drive immune response can be shifted toward Th2 cells that drive antibody production that responds to allergens. When this occurs, a person can become sensitive to something that was not previously an allergy. Usually this is a food or an environmental factor. Maintaining a very healthy immune system protects against this cell shift.

Q: Is there a difference between an antigen and an allergen?
A: An allergen is a substance that can cause an allergic reaction in some people, but cause no response for most individuals. An antigen is a substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it. Since an antigen can actually be formed inside the body by bacteria or tissue cells, they are perceived as slightly different, but their effect is the same.

Q: What does a supplement label need to tell the consumer about the presence or absence of allergens?
A: Supplement labels must declare ingredients present in the product. New allergen labeling laws also make it mandatory for companies to declare certain allergens in the ingredient lists or underneath the ingredient lists, such as "contains soy"; or "contains milk." That mandatory declaration is only for the most common allergens, however. Many other allergens can still be hidden in the ingredient lists, such as corn or fruits.

Q: What does hypoallergenic mean?
A: Hypoallergenic means that the ingredients chosen for a product are those that are least likely to produce an allergic response.

Q: Are hypoallergenic products necessary or good for everybody?
A: Certainly anyone can take a hypoallergenic product; however, not everyone needs to. Individuals without ingredient sensitivities or with no history of immune disregularity can generally take non-hypoallergenic supplements.

Q: Are they mandatory for some people?
A: Yes, individuals with known allergic responses and ingredient sensitivities should consider them mandatory.

Q: What is the difference between natural products and hypoallergenic products?
A: Natural products are defined as products that occur naturally in nature, but in no way correlate with hypoallergenic. Natural products are almost as likely to produce an allergic response as non-natural products. Soy, corn, nuts, wheat, and fish are all natural substances, but are primary allergens to many individuals.

Q: What about personal care products such as hand and body lotions, or hair shampoos and conditioners?
A: Topical products generally produce outward allergic responses that are generally seen on the skin in the form of a rash, itching or skin breakout. Often these allergic responses are to ingredients different from the ingredients responsible for responses to foods, but some ingredients could be common to both. Unless a topical product is formulated to be transdermal (absorbed through the skin), these products usually cause only external type reactions.

Q: What kinds of allergens can be found in supplements? What are the most common ones? Can there be allergens in both active and inactive ingredients?
A: Milk, eggs, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, wheat, corn, mold, and peanuts are the most common, but many others such as various fruits, herbs, or vegedivs can also be present. Both active or inactive ingredients can contain these allergens so it is important to read both the Supplement Facts box and ingredient lists of the product.

Q: What about the nutrients synthesized from plant sources? Can't these contain allergens?
A: Absolutely. The soil or media the plants are grown in can contain any of the common allergens, plus potential environmental allergens.

Q: Can both natural and artificial flavorings contain allergens?
A: Yes they can. The natural flavors can contain fruits, grains, or other natural allergens, while the artificial flavors generally contain an array of synthetic chemicals that can cause severe reactions.

Q: Why is the type of capsule used important?
A: Vegediv cellulose capsules, such as those Kirkman uses, have a safe history of no allergic responses. Gelatin capsules used by many other firms are animal derived from pigs, beef,, or fish, which are known to cause allergic responses in sensitive individuals.

Q: Why does Kirkman specify that the magnesium stearate used is vegediv?
A: Non-vegediv magnesium stearate is animal sourced, and can therefore cause the responses that animal based ingredients contribute to.

Q: Are grains used at any point during the manufacturing, synthesis, or processing of Kirkman vitamins and minerals, such as in the formation of alcohol or sugar?
A: Generally speaking, no. In the few instances where grains may have been involved, the product is tested by an independent laboratory for gluten.

Q: How can Kirkman's Colostrum Gold™ liquid say it contains milk, but yet be casein free?
A: Because it came from milk, by law it must say "milk" on the label, but the casein has been removed by multiple filtrations. The product is laboratory tested to be casein-free at detecdiv levels.

Q: Why would the label for Kirkman's Gastro Support say it contains Shellfish (Shrimp)? I don't see any shellfish or shrimp in the ingredients panel?
A: The n-acetyl glucosamine in the product is sourced from shrimp and therefore must be declared as part of the allergen labeling laws.

Q: When we talk about supplements being hypoallergenic, are we also referring to being free of contamination by heavy metals or other environmental contaminants?
A: Yes, Kirkman products are formulated to be as low as possible in environmental contaminants such as heavy metals, PCB's, and pesticides, as well as free of common allergens.

Q: What kinds of contaminants are found in many low-quality supplements?
A: Common allergens, heavy metals, pesticides, PCB's, artificial flavors, artificial colors, and potentially damaging chemicals.

Q: Do hypoallergenic products work as well as regular products?
A: Yes, the absorbance and efficacy of the products are equal.

Q: Why aren't all supplements and personal care products formulated to be hypoallergenic?
A: All individuals do not require hypoallergenic products. If one is not sensitive to ingredients and has no known allergens, regular products are fine. Also, some versions of products need to be sweetened or flavored in order to cover up tastes and textures. These special dosage forms cannot be made hypoallergenic. In addition, there are some active ingredients that just cannot be made hypoallergenic, such as enzymes, because the substrate they are manufactured on contains a potential allergen.

Q: How long has Kirkman been offering the hypoallergenic line?
A: This line has been in existence since 2000.

Q: What categories of supplements are offered in Kirkman's hypoallergenic line?
A: We try to have at least one hypoallergenic version of all the different categories of products we manufacture. Only those containing active ingredients that have inherent allergens in their makeup are excluded, such as enzymes and cod liver oil.

Q: How does Kirkman guarantee the hypoallergenic status of Kirkman's Hypoallergenic line and the purity of all of Kirkman's products?

A: Kirkman conducts the most extensive testing for purity in the industry. Every batch of raw material used to manufacture products in Kirkman's line is tested for more than 950 environmental contaminants including 24 heavy metals, common allergens, bacteria, yeast, mold, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, endocrine disruptors, and potentially harmful chemicals.

FAQs About Immune Problems and Issues

Q: How can I recognize signs of immune system problems?
A: The signs of an immune system problem are often quite easy to recognize over time. Persistence of the following conditions is key to suspecting immune system problems:

  1. Frequent illness
  2. Continuous food allergies or an increased number of allergies
  3. Inadequate detoxification as indicated by laboratory testing
  4. Low glutathione levels as indicated by laboratory testing
  5. Impaired methylation

Q: What is the relationship between a toxic body burden and immune problems?
A: A toxic body burden makes the immune system work harder, which can make the system less effective against other body invaders. Often, detoxifying the body improves the overall condition and returns the immune system to normality.

Q: How do you help break the cycle of chronic immune dysregulation?
A: This is a very difficult question to answer because it depends on the causes of the dysregulation. If it is nutritional, supplements can help, but if it is toxins, low glutathione levels or pathway problems, lab testing and a physician's involvement will be necessary.

Q: What can you safely do on your own, and when is it time to see the doctor?
A: It is safe to try certain nutritional supplements on your own such as the ones listed below, but when it comes to detoxification, pathway issues such as methylation or sulfation, or glutathione levels, a physician's involvement is recommended.

Q: Which nutrients support a healthy immune system?
A: There is a long list of nutritional products that support a healthy immune system including:

  1. Zinc
  2. Vitamin A
  3. Vitamin C
  4. Vitamin E
  5. Selenium
  6. Beta Glucan
  7. CoEnzyme Q-10 or Idebenone
  8. N-Acetyl Cysteine
  9. Colostrum
  10. Super Cranberry Extract
  11. Garlic
  12. Olive Leaf
  13. Goldenseal
  14. Reduced L-Glutathione Dimethylglycine or Trimethylglycine

You may recognize some of the above nutrients as being present in the multi-vitamin/mineral you may be using. To better support a compromised immune system, additional supplementation of the nutrient is recommended. Increasing zinc to 50 mg. daily, vitamin C to 1000-3000 mg. daily, vitamin E to 200-400 IU daily, selenium up to at least 75 mcg. daily, and Coenzyme Q-10 up to 100 mg. daily may be beneficial.

Q: Is it better to supplement with single nutrients or combination products?
A: There is no preference. Just stay within the recommended dosages or follow your doctor's orders. Also, don't try too many different products at once. In case of a reaction or sensitivity, you want to know which product is causing a problem.

Q: Do some products complement each other or need to be utilized together?
A: Some products work synergistically and, frequently, some need to be used together. This can get very complicated, however, so talk to your doctor about this. Generally speaking, the vitamin and mineral products work together well.

Q: Are there any contraindications or upper limits for any immune boosters included in Kirkman's products, such as selenium, goldenseal, or echinacea?
A: There are some upper limits, but it can vary with individuals by age or weight. Also some products should not be used indefinitely at higher dosages, such as goldenseal above 500 mg. It is best to check with your doctor about this and follow label recommendations. Some doctors will have different regimens and different upper limit requirements.

Q: Can herbal immune boosters be taken in conjunction with probiotics?
A: For the most part yes, but herbal preparations such as goldenseal, garlic, and turmeric should not be taken at the same time as probiotics because the herbs have components that can kill off some of the organisms.

Q: Are there any times when it is even more important for an individual to support their immune system, such as before travel?
A: During periods of high exposure such as crowds, travel, or during the winter season, immune system support should be stepped up.

Q: How can Kirkman help?
You can call our customer service representatives (1-800-245-8282) who will be happy to assist you in this regard.

FAQs About Probiotics

Q: Why would I consider giving my child probiotics?
A: Probiotics are good insurance for maintaining healthy intestinal flora which in turn supports a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Specific health symptoms which might indicate a need for probiotics include abdominal pain, gas, bloating, bacterial or yeast overgrowth, constipation, or excessively loose stools.

Q: What is the definition of a probiotic?
A: Probiotics are live strains of beneficial bacteria which promote gastrointestinal health.

Q: What are the functions of probiotics?
A: Probiotics promote intestinal growth and colonization of the healthy beneficial strains they deliver, which in turn helps to crowd out harmful bacteria or yeast.

Q: What are the mechanisms by which probiotics deliver their beneficial effects?
A: The probiotics deliver live, colony forming units, to the intestines. Generally speaking, Lactobacillus strains work predominately in the small intestine while Bifidobacterium strains are more active in the large intestine. When reaching the intestines, the colony forming units begin multiplying thereby crowding out and making it more difficult for harmful bacteria to survive.

Q: What are the different functions of the different strains?
A: Unless your doctor has positively identified the harmful strains via a stool culture, however, most individuals who use probiotics don't actually know which harmful bacterial strains are present in the intestines and rely on a multi-strain probiotic to increase the beneficial flora while crowding out the undesirable flora.

Q: Do I need to start out slowly?
A: Yes. Each individual needs to find out their optimum dose for their own ideal gastrointestinal health. Some individuals need only low doses to correct intestinal issues while others need more therapeutic dosages.

Q: Is the dosage dependent on the patient's weight or age?
A: It can be but not necessarily. Each individual needs to find that "ideal" dose. Sometimes once daily is enough, while in others, multiple dosing per day is needed.

Q: What is the rate at which you should increase the dosage?
A: A good rule of thumb is to start out with 1/4 of a capsule for a few days, and then increase to 1/2 capsule if no negative effects (such as loose stools) are seen. After another few days, increase to a full capsule. If improvement is noticed, but not yet optimal, then multiple dosing per day or multiple capsules can be tried. The most common symptoms of overdosing with a probiotic are excessively loose stools or excess gas. If that occurs, back the dosage down.

Q: What kind of beneficial effects have some people seen with probiotics?
A: Reduced abdominal pain, less gas, improved regularity, firmer stools, less odorous stools, and better food digestion. Sometimes improvement in skin tone is also seen.

Q: Are there any sorts of effects which appear negative?
A: Only if the product is overdosed in which case loose stools and excessive gas could result or if there is a die off reaction resulting from harmful bacteria releasing toxins as they die. This is known as the herxheimer reaction which causes the individual to feel "sick" or uncomfortable for a few days. This die off reaction usually resolves in a week to ten days.

Q: What do you do if you see these effects?
A: If you see positive effects, try to find the ideal dose and maintain that dosing regimen. If the above negative results occur, back the dosage down until the right dose is determined or in the case of a die off reaction, reduce the dose until the situation resolves.

Q: For what reasons have some people started taking probiotics?
A: Specific health issues which might indicate a need for probiotics include intestinal or abdominal pain, gas, bloating, bacterial or yeast overgrowth, constipation or excessively loose stools.

Q: How long will it take to see positive results?
A: Often, positive results will be seen within a day or two. In some individuals, it may take a week or two.

Q: Is it possible to overdose on probiotics?
A: Yes. Excessive probiotics usually result in loose stools and/or excess gas.

Q: How do you work with the dosage/administration for a child who has trouble tolerating probiotics?
A: Consult your physician. A child who has difficulty tolerating probiotics could have a sensitivity to something in the product or could be experiencing a die off reaction. If it appears to be a sensitivity type allergic reaction, try a hypoallergenic form. If it appears to be die off, reduce the dose and be patient. Die off usually resolves within a week.

Q: How far do probiotics survive in their journey down the gastrointestinal tract?
A: Kirkman's probiotic strains are stabilized with a protective polymer which coats the probiotic cells to protect them from stomach acids. Most of the cells reach the intestines alive and are ready to go to work. This may not be true of many other brands. Unstabilized strains can be killed off by the acidic conditions of the stomach.

Q: How should Kirkman's probiotics be stored?
A: Kirkman's probiotics are shipped on ice. When received by the customer, they should be stored in the refrigerator.

Q: How long can Kirkman's probiotics be out of the refrigerator (at room temperature) and still be effective?
A: They can be left at room temperature not exceeding 75° F for a day or two. In excess of 75° F, however, the integrity of the product can be compromised within about two hours. The hotter the temperature, the quicker cells are killed off. The best scenario is to keep refrigerated in which case, label potency is guaranteed through the best buy date on the label.

Q: Are Kirkman's probiotics casein and gluten free?
A: All probiotics manufactured by Kirkman are tested and certified to be casein, gluten and soy free. Kirkman also distributes, but does not manufacture other brands of probiotics. These other brands are not always free of casein and gluten.

Q: Which of Kirkman's probiotics are SCD legal?
A: The SCD original diet required only Lactobacillus strains to be used. Bifidobacterium strains were not SCD legal. Using that strict definition, only Kirkman's Lactobacillus acidophilus product would be considered SCD legal. Many doctors, however, realized the need for some Bifido strains when on that diet and asked Kirkman to come up with an inulin free Pro-Bio Gold™ formulation. We have done that and doctors using that philosophy also consider that product SCD legal.

Q: Do probiotics help the immune system?
A: Yes. Probiotics stimulate the production and activity of immune cells located in the tissues that line the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system and urinary tract. These are known as mucosal tissues and a significant percentage of the body's immune capacity may reside in these tissues. Probiotics also contain varying amounts of DPPIV enzyme which stimulates immune response on the brush border of the gastrointestinal tract.

Q: What is the role that probiotics play when a patient has been prescribed antibiotics?
A: Antibiotics are not specific to harmful bacteria. They also kill off the beneficial flora in the gastrointestinal tract often resulting in severe stomach cramping and diarrhea. By using a probiotic concurrently with antibiotics, beneficial flora can be preserved resulting in minimal side effects from the antibiotic.

Q: How far apart should probiotics and antibiotics be spaced so that both are effective and helpful?
A: The probiotics should be given half way between the antibiotic doses so the two do not come in direct contact with each other. For example, if your antibiotic is to be given every four hours, give the probiotic two hours after the antibiotic. If the antibiotic is to be given every eight hours, give the probiotic four hours after the antibiotic.

Q: Should probiotics be taken before or after any given dose of antibiotics?
A: No, the probiotic should be given as far apart from the antibiotic as possible.

Q: Is there a best time of day to take probiotics?
A: There are two schools of thought on this subject. Some experts suggest taking them on an empty stomach so implantation is more effective, while other experts suggest taking them with meals so that less stomach acid is encountered. Kirkman recommends taking them at the very beginning of a meal which limits the degree of acidity the probiotic encounters.

Q: Should probiotics be taken apart from digestive enzymes?
A: Probiotics can be partially digested by digesting enzymes such as protease and amylase. For this reason Kirkman recommends separating them to some degree. When both products are being used by a patient, we recommend taking the enzyme at the very beginning of the meal followed by the probiotic about 30 minutes later. That way they do not come into direct contact with each other.

Q: Should probiotics be taken apart from any herbs, spices, or herbal supplements?
A: Many herbs contain inherent immune system supporting ingredients which can kill living cells such as probiotics. For that reason, herbal products should be given separated from probiotics by an hour or two.

Q: Are different potencies of probiotics generally used in different situations?
A: Generally speaking, one should use the dose of probiotics necessary to maintain good gastrointestinal health. Some people do well on low potency products such as 20 billion colony forming units, while others require in hundreds of thousands of colony forming units. Individuals must find the dosage that is right for their bodies. Also, when significant bacterial overgrowth is present in an unhealthy gut, sometimes therapeutic dosages are needed initially, followed by a maintenance dosage after the overgrowth is reduced.

The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kirkman products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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