Jun, 28
2012

Supplements - What is the Source?

Michael Smith Blog - Know The Cause The other day, I picked up a dietary supplement from a chain drugstore touting itself as an "effervescent health formula." (Side note, the author had to look up the definition of effervescent.) It was accompanied by the FDA disclaimer found on most supplements, stating that, "This product has neither been evaluated nor tested by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease." 
The supplement came in the form of an orange, chalky pill that dissolves and fizzes when dropped into water (thus the label "effervescent"), and contained a number of vitamins, most notably vitamin C, Omega-3 components, and obviously some sort of orange coloring to give the pill a pastel-tangerine color.

The supplement industry is an interesting one. Simply put, supplement companies condense and concentrate vital, health-promoting nutrients into formulas than can be taken in single servings. In other words, you can take a supplemental pill with 1000mg of vitamin C as opposed to eating 14 or 15 oranges. The supplement industry has interesting relationship with the FDA; they aren't regulated as, say, drugs are. They are regulated more like food. But conversely, supplement companies can't make certain health claims like drug companies can. There is a much more detailed discussion of the legalese on the FDA's website here if you are interested.

Vitamins, minerals and nutrients can come from a variety of sources, from food to petroleum. A lot of the discussion in the medical community surrounding the "uselessness" of supplements has no dialogue about the source or kind of supplements in question. Food based supplements with minimal processing, naturally, are probably the best type to look for. As Doug loves to point out, carrots contain more than 400 carotenoids other than beta carotene. Food based supplements are more likely to contain the co-factors and co-enzymes necessary for our body to maximize the supplements we choose to take.

It is important to remember though, supplements without a change in diet and lifestyle will yield little results. Doug even recommends going off all supplements when starting a Phase 1 diet, and then gradually re-introducing them. Robi Mitchell has a great saying: "You'll never supplement your way out of diseases you behave yourself into." Kyle Drew has an excellent piece on the dangers of supplementing without the aid of proper diet and exercise.

Supplements can be an important part of maintaining health. Equally importantly is the quality of supplement you choose. Choose companies you can trust and that focus on purity of production and source. Doug always finds the best companies to advertise on KTC, and you can find a list of them here.