Supplements are a multi billion dollar industry.
There are over 85,000 dietary supplements for sale in the US today and over 50% of Americans take some kind of supplements daily.
Are you one of them?
Many supplements claim they are absolutely pure, all natural ingredients and this sounds so good for us, natural is good right?
Unfortunately a high percentage of supplements do not live up to their promise;
DNA tests show huge discrepancies amongst the ingredients listed on the label, some don’t even contain the ingredients listed on the label.
In the case of fish oil, it is rancid in most cases and some are tainted with harmful ingredients that are downright dangerous for your health.
The supplement industry is large and mostly unregulated.
The FDA division in charge of the supplement division is composed of only 25 people and the FDA does not do any review of dietary supplements before they hit the market.
No testing for safety or effectiveness whatsoever all manufacturers have to show is that they follow good manufacturing practices.
This lack of regulation has resulted in products that have caused harm, even deaths.
Purity First is one example, it became a half a million dollars a year company, selling on the web, stores and through alternative health providers.
Purity First was a reputable company known for using good quality ingredients until people who took Purity First’s B 50 vitamins began experiencing back pain, aggression, change in voice, change in the sexual organs, overgrowth of hair, males developing breasts, etc.
Facts And News About Supplements
Investigations reveled that the capsules of B -50 vitamin were laced with two anabolic steroids.
Further investigation showed the source of the contamination occurred at the manufacturing plant of the B-50 vitamins.
The manufacturing company was shut down but the FDA took months to pull the product out of the market. Here are a few more stories that should make you think twice about taking supplements:
- In 2014 a large study conducted by the federal government revealed that over 20,000 of emergency room visits in one given year are due to dietary supplements marketed for weight loss and increased energy.
- Over 160 people died from taking weight loss supplements containing an ingredient called Ephedra in the early 2100s. The FDA banned ephedra in April 2004 but since then a federal judge has lifted the ban.
- In 2013 fifty six people suffered severe liver problems in Hawaii from a diet and workout supplement called OxyElite Pro. While FDA investigation is still ongoing it appears the problem is a compound called aegeline that the company had purchased from China.
- Doctors and hospitals treat patients with supplements that have not been tested for effectiveness or to even find out if the ingredients listed on the label are the actual ingredients in the product.
- Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia gives vitamin D to premature infants if the vitamin D supplement is not what it claims or if the dose is higher than listed this could be super toxic to these tiny bodies.
Studies & Research
Some vitamins contain amounts much greater than the recommended amounts and over supplementation can be very dangerous.
I see clients who take a daily vitamin then they take a protein powder and other products with added vitamins and minerals and then they eat a whole array of processed foods with added vitamins.
I think this is dangerous.
Scientific studies have shown that overdosing on vitamins can damage your health. Supplementing with large doses of vitamin E, for example are known to increase your risks of prostate cancer.
Vitamin D is one of the top sellers and has been heavily pushed.
The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 international units of vitamin D a day but others are recommending 1,000s of IUD with no scientific evidence and this is downright dangerous.
High doses of vitamin D are being correlated with adverse events like calcium in the urine, vascular calcification and risk of cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality.
There are several ongoing studies worldwide to determine the effectiveness of vitamin D for Type 2 diabetes and other chronic disorders.
Fish oil is supposed to reduce blood pressure, coronary death but the science has not shown this.
Furthermore over the counter fish oil is usually rancid and of poor quality and dangerous as fish oil becomes easily oxidized and oxidized fish oil can trigger inflammatory changes that can lead to vascular damage.
Dr. Andrew Grey, epidemiologist compiled studies on fish oils and concluded that “It’s clear fish oils don’t improve heart health,” Grey told Reuters Health. “People can safely discontinue fish oil supplements, and focus on pursuing health behaviors with proven efficacy.”
Extensive clinical trials are on the way to see if supplements actually work.
The good news!
A New York Times article in November 2013 titled “Herbal Supplements Are often Not What They Seem” got the attorney general, Eric Schneiderman to conduct test on various supplements.
He found that only 21% of the products tested had DNA evidence of the ingredients listed on the label.
Since then 14 state attorney generals have come together to demand change from the industry, the FDA and congress.
The reaction from some supplement companies, Nature’s Way amongst them, has been outstanding and they are conducting tests to make sure their products meet high quality standards.
This is great news!
But do they work?
Before taking a supplement consider:
- Is it safe – if the promise is too good to be true, beware it could be dangerous.
- If you take medication can you mix it with supplements?
- Certain dietary supplements can change absorption, metabolism, or excretion of a medication and therefore affect its potency.
- Has it been tested by an independent lab?
- Is there evidence to substantiate its claims?
- Do you really need to take a supplement – overdosing can have serious health consequences.
I have never been a big believer in supplements and after all my research to write this I am even more skeptical.
I truly believe that you can get all you need from food if you eat real and as much organic food as possible.
However, when a client comes to me with chronic disorders it means that their cells are malnourished, their gut is overridden by bad bacteria so I will recommend 3 supplements to jump start their wellness program.
These supplements will help accelerate the recovery so that my client will see results and results are key to motivate someone to continue on their journey to health and wellness.
The three supplements I recommend are:
- Multi-vitamin to help increase nourishment to their cells
- Probiotics to reduce inflammation and help repopulate their gut
- Magnesium because studies indicate most of us are deficient on this mineral and studies have linked low magnesium to chronic disease and is also a powerful relaxant and in this busy most of us could use some help to relieve stress.
ConsumerLab.com an independent testing company that not only test vitamins, supplements, herb and nutrition products.
But, it also provides reviews, ratings and comparisons to consumers for a very reasonable yearly fee has tested the specific brands I recommend to my patients.
Have you tried any of these supplements? Ever felt that you wasted your money on supplements? Please feel free to share your thoughts.