We are in the era where we all want to be in the best shape possible. In pursuit of this goal many forget about their health and sacrifice it in any way just to achieve a good looking body when they look in the mirror. And this is where supplements, multivitamins and many products today come into place. Currently there are thousands of products in market that can be bought without a prescription and thus consumers are growing daily.
Supplements or multivitamins are recognized easily nowadays, and many people consume then because they consider it will bring a better health, some are convinced that by taking a pill you will cover the requirement of calcium, which many often don’t even know what the requirement is, others take omega 3, because somewhere they heard it was good for something, but still they don’t know for what that, or even some take a general multivitamin, because hey, who wouldn’t benefit from a little vitamin or mineral, right?
Well today I want to share the other side of the story about supplements, that which very few know about. The reality is that supplements are not currently closely regulated, and the most shocking fact is that what at least is regulated, is regulated as foods, not drugs. Something a bit contradictory because either vitamins or minerals made in a lab or extracted from a natural place, just need a chemical process, and that somehow makes them a drug. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) as a global entity that regulates food only asks supplement manufacturers to meet the criteria established for certain statements made in the bottles, but it never asks them to provide evidence that proofs that what they state as their product, is really what they sell within the bottle.
What does this mean? That as manufacturers are not required to report everything (meaning all ingredients) that make up the supplement, you can be find from placebos (supplements that claim to be for example calcium, but in the end it’s just a white pill that provides nothing) to multivitamins with toxic substances such as lead and bacteria.
In addition, manufacturers are not required to report a possible risk of interaction between the supplement and a food or drug, so the consumer are left on their own wondering if the supplement might have not necessarily a toxic substance, but an ingredients for medical use, that may in fact interfere with a more critical health condition. In 2008, the FDA recalled some products in the area of bodybuilding and weight loss since within the components there where found active ingredients as Sildenafil (or Viagra) and Sibutramine (a drug that was used at some point for weight loss, but was withdrew from the market in 2010 because it was proven to increase heart attacks). So many people consuming those proteins or multivitamin, had no idea that they where inclusively consuming these ingredients. And that’s how we started talking about liver damage, kidney and even premature deaths sometimes with no logical explanation, because the compounds are not limited to only these, as the industry is not required to report reality.
And this is why the market is now overloaded with thousand of “miracle” bottles that promise us a new life. The reality is that supplements were made with a purpose and as its name says, it supplements in case of a deficiency, so clinically and with my patients they are only used when there is a health condition that requires it. Otherwise everyone (including vegans) can live, actively, energetically and without disease from a simple healthy and balanced diet. The vast majority of the population do not need a multivitamin or a supplement, they just need to improve their nutrition needs based on a individual requirements.
So if you happen to be taking pills hoping that these bring you a miracle to stay well nourished, I am sorry to inform that the percentage of absorption of multivitamins can be in some cases of about 20% that means, that whatever pill you take, you will absorb very little, that’s what makes eating well so important, because supplements do not replace meals, let alone save us from eating poorly.
The use of supplements should be like using drugs, consult your healthcare provider, only he/she can say if you really need them or not.
Surprising dangers found in nutritional supplement http://www.komonews.com/news/consumer/Surprising-dangers-found-in-nutritional-supplements-164808836.html?tab=video&c=y
Dietary supplements: Manufacturing troubles widespread, FDA inspections show http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-30/news/ct-met-supplement-inspections-20120630_1_dietary-supplements-inspections-american-herbal-products-association
“Overview of supplemental research Studies¨ Nutrition, health, and Lifestyle: Issues and Insights. Jamie Pope, MS, RD, LDN. Resource Online Class.