Health

The Dangers of the Supplement Industry

I’ve been writing  great deal lately regarding the nuances, complexities, as well as the corruption of the American health care industry. Most everyone hears the stories played on the nightly news; big CEOs this, corporate greed that, and falsified clinical trials that. These stories convey a generalized sense of doubt and negativity in the minds of viewers, but often do little to help establish concrete specifics by which consumers may benefit. For example, the New York Times published an article last year detailing a study conducted by a Canadian research group—which published their results from an investigation into the purity of common supplements. The results were shocking, yet not all surprising; many major retailers are offering dietary supplements that are mislabeled, or all together containing ingredients other than those listed on the label.

Corruption & Misrepresentation

Health care products in the United States are regulated quite lightly, in that they are viewed by the FDA as food items, rather than prescription medications. Many supplements and products that are prescription in other countries such as Canada or Germany, are listed as dietary supplements—food—within the United States. This offers a tremendous advantage for those consumers treating their health conditions or illnesses through supplements and nutrition, in that they can simply pick up their “medicine” from the local vitamin store, or easily order them online. However, these consumers are usually the type that know the brands they trust, and opt to go with manufacturers they know to have a good track-record of quality. For the rest of us, the majority, we usually assume that the Wal-Mart brand of Vitamin C would typically be just that—Vitamin C.

As discovered by the Canadian research group, this assumption has been found to be completely false. Large manufacturers such as Target, GNC, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart were found to be selling many of these dietary supplements under false labels, often containing unlisted ingredients, or completely different compounds than those listed on the label! For example, Walmart’s Spring Valley brand’s Ginko Biloba was found to contain zero actual Ginko Biloba, and had rice, mustard, wheat, and radish in it instead. Such misleading of consumer trust should be punishable by some heinous degree but, per usual, little more than a flare on social media and an evening of cursing came about.

Target, GNC, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart were found to be selling many of these dietary supplements under false labels

This article firmly illustrated the importance of choosing quality supplements to me, and I thought I would do my best to warn my readers of the potential dangers. I’ve never personally used many supplements, short of some vitamin C for colds, and a multi-vitamin every now and then. I eat healthy for the most part, and view that plus some regular exercise as my most potent ally in my fight to live forever. However, this  entire subject has gotten me thinking about all the other potentially-mislabeled products that could contain dangerous contaminants, or at least products barely qualifying as  placebo. After much research, I’ve decided I would share with you what I feel is the best way to avoid this type of potential pitfall while picking out supplements or other nutrition products.

Pharmaceutical Grade Health Supplements

There is an entire class of supplement manufacturers that go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure purity of product, as well as ability to be used by your body. These are manufacturers like Biotics Research, Pure Encapsulations, Ecological Formulas, and products from Thorne Research. Thorne, in particular, does much more than sell supplements—leading the industry in establishing nutritional benchmarks, developing clinical trials (yes, just like pharmaceutical companies), and applying robust product testing practices. These companies offer supplements considered to be of pharmaceutical grade quality — which are as potent and pure as any prescription medication you would find on the market. Now, just because they are as pure, doesn’t mean they qualify as substitutes; you should ask your doctor before making any changes if you’re on medication. However, if you are taking supplements, I would recommend changing to one of these trusted supplement brands, which will insure you are getting the purest product possible, and aren’t exposing yourself to any unwanted contaminants.

The entire health care industry is a convoluted mess; the dietary supplements industry is no exception. There does exist, however, a shining few manufacturers that can help you ensure you are getting what you pay for. Research has shown that large manufacturers like Wal-Mart and GNC can’t be trusted, and that their products are inferior and little more than marketing campaigns. The companies such as Thorne Research and Biotics Research are a scientists’ supplement manufacturer—using independent research to drive their product development. You health is the most important thing you have guys, and I hope you take this article to heart and be careful out there!

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