Supplements Mean We’re Losing

The latest results from an annual survey on dietary supplements revealed an all-time high for supplement usage among U.S. adults, with 76% reporting they consumed dietary supplements, up five percentage points from last year’s results.

“These findings reinforce the upward trend in usage and confidence seen last year,” stated Nancy Weindruch, VP communications, Council for Responsible Nutrition. “Seeing more than three quarters of Americans taking supplements is an indicator of our industry’s success in bringing products to the marketplace that are valued by the majority of Americans for their role in health and wellness.”

The survey also found that nearly 87% U.S. adults have confidence in the safety, quality and effectiveness of dietary supplements overall. Additionally, 76% of U.S. adults perceive the dietary supplement industry as trustworthy, up three percentage points from last year.

In terms of the types of supplements being taken, the survey found that vitamins/minerals are the most commonly consumed supplement category, consistent with the previous surveys, with 75% of U.S. adults saying they have taken these in the past twelve months. The second most popular category is specialty supplements (38%), followed by herbals/botanicals (29%), sports nutrition supplements (22%) and weight management supplements (15%).

Overall health/wellness benefits is the main reason cited by supplement users for taking dietary supplements (46%). Three in ten consume supplements to fill  nutrient gaps in their diet and similar proportions (28%) use them for energy.

Of those who do not take dietary supplements, nearly half (45%) say they might consider taking supplements in the future if a doctor recommended it to them.

In its eighteenth consecutive year, the CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements serves as the leading resource for statistics on usage of and confidence in dietary supplements. The survey was conducted Aug. 24–28 by Ipsos Public Affairs and was funded by CRN.

Taking Supplements Is Like Charlie Brown Trying To Kick The Football … Again.

All bottles of Chicago-based Ton Shen Health's Life Rising DHZC-2 tablets were recalled last week after the FDA identified elevated levels of lead in product samples. (FDA)
All bottles of Chicago-based Ton Shen Health’s Life Rising DHZC-2 tablets were recalled last week after the FDA identified elevated levels of lead in product samples. (FDA)

FDA investigating high lead levels in supplements. 

Here’s a quote; “I’m so surprised that there are high lead levels in dietary supplements taken for better health,” said no one ever.

How many reports have to come out about the irrelevance or outright harm that they can do? It doesn’t really seem to matter because all the Charlie Browns keep trying to kick the ball; all the Coyotes keep falling under the 2,000 ton anvil from Acme;  and all the Elmer Fudds keep trying to catch that wascally wabbit.

Taking supplements for your health may be cartoonish, but it’s not really funny because it keeps happening. People just keep purchasing bottles of whatever because it promises them that it does whatever and there’s some beautiful woman with straight white teeth in the lotus position in some Japanese garden with the sun slanting through sideways.

Just stop. They are unregulated. That means that there’s no regulations. And THAT means that they can say crazy things on them like, “these things are great for you trust me” when they’re actually irrelevant or harmful.

Don’t kick the football. It’s not going to work this time either. #PillsAreForSickPeople





Dear Will,
My family has always been health conscious and we try to do the right thing for our health – because it’s important! 
But I’m getting mixed messages from the news when I hear about supplements. Are there some that are better than others?
Thank you for your help … Health Conscious

Follow @willclower

Dear Health Conscious,
I want to make this very clear. The weight of research evidence is not looking good for dietary supplements! And this, I think, is what causes the confusion as the health claims run headlong into the health data. So let’s just look at a bit of that.
First of all, the best source of your nutrition comes from food. That’s just common sense. The body has adapted to the food grown on this planet for the past few billion years of evolution. 
And it would be a logical absurdity to presume the perfect fit between food and physiology could be bettered by some invention we came up with over the past few decades.
We’re just not that smart.
Of course, that doesn’t stop us from trying to convince others that nutritional supplements must be a healthful solution. Unfortunately the health claims lead the health data. For example … 
Does glucosamine and chondroitin work for joint pain? Not for the knee (here’s another).
Do vitamin B supplements help heal the arteries of your heart? Not at all.
Do supplemental vitamins C and E help prevent cancer? In this massive randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Physicians’ Health Study II, an amazing 14,641 male physicians aged 50 years or older were given vitamin C and E supplements. 
Neither provided any protection whatsoever against cancer, despite the fact that foods with vitamin C and E are protective.
But what about the multivitamins? Do they help you stay healthy? Not for your heart and not for cancer prevention. Not, not, not.
This amazing lack of effect is only now getting significant attention from regulators. In fact, a FDA investigation of herbal supplements randomly tested 78 supplement bottles at Walgreens, Walmart, GNC and Target stores. They found that 80% of did not even contain the ingredients advertised on their labels.
What did they contain? According to the report, in many cases they consisted of powdered rice, wheat, and ground-up houseplants.
Seriously. Ground up houseplants.
Even if they were pure which, 80% of the time they are just not, ginkgo biloba supplements carried a claim that the products supported “concentration, memory and peripheral circulation, enhancing blood flow to the arms, legs and brain.” There is no evidence for this. At GNC, a line of saw palmetto supplements promised to “support healthy prostate function.” There is no evidence for this either. And Walmart’s Spring Valley brand of echinacea supplements were promoted for “healthy immune function.” Evidence? Nope.
Maybe the ground up houseplants just aren’t that effective for anything much, with the exception perhaps of selling fraudulent claims to unsuspecting customers. 
But supplements can also be dangerous.
The common supplements above may have been irrelevant to better health for the men, but for pregnant women they turned out to make pregnancy complications of high blood pressure 10% worse!
The Cancer Institute recently reported that exposure to supplements such as vitamins, herbs, protein powders, and botanicals were responsible for more than 35,000 calls to US poison control centers in 2011. 
Over 800 of them had moderate to severe outcomes, and 4 people died.
Even this alarming incidence is likely a strong underestimate of the actual health toll taken by supplements, as most people won’t actually call a poison control center.
Those on chemotherapy are at a much higher risk of unexpected drug interactions with dietary supplements and should consult their doctor about any they are taking. But even this may not be enough, as the lack of regulatory oversight has allowed some supplement makers to insert dangerous additional drugsin their formulas that are completely unlabeled (Reumofan, the all “natural” Mexican supplement for pain relief).  
Bottom line?
If you’re sick, take your meds. Don’t be silly. But if you have a relatively normal physiology and your body’s not broken yet, your best source of nutrition comes from the foods that are here precisely because of the optimal nutrition they provide for our body.


Hot Flashes Ladies? This Japanese Herb is a FAIL

Ei yi yi. Every supplement maker on earth is selling some kind of all-natural-miracle-cure in a bottle with smiling, peaceful, slender women sitting in lotus position in a Japanese monastery, with sunlight slanting through the bamboo forest
But if you actually check to see if this product is, I don’t know, effective, then you are totally off-script.  

That’s what just happened with keishi-bukuryo-gan (great name, by the way … I can just SEE this marketing piece on a supplement bottle), a mix of cinnamon bark, peach pit and several other botanicals — also known as TU-025.

What The Study Studied
These scientists randomly assigned 178 postmenopausal women to take either keishi-bukuryo-gan tablets or a placebo every day for three months. 

In the end, the researchers found that while women on the herb saw improvements in hot flashes, sleep problems and other symptoms, so did women on the placebo. So there was no clear advantage of the herbal product, the team reports in the journal Menopause.

Here’s the Data 
Of women in the placebo group, hot flash frequency and severity dropped by a significant degree in 34 percent. The same was true of 40 percent of women taking a lower dose of keishi-bukuryo-gan (7.5 grams per day) and 38 percent using a higher dose (12.5 grams).

The differences among the three groups were not statistically meaningful, according to the researchers, led by Dr. Gregory A. Plotnikoff, who directs the Institute for Health and Healing at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

What’s more, 20 percent of the women using keishi-bukuryo-gan reported diarrhea as a side effect. Now THAT’s a picture you never see in the “health food” section of your grocery store. Wouldn’t that be great? Instead of sitting on the sacred stone table of some Asian Monastery, the people on this supplement bottle would be shown … hmm, not sure how effective that marketing message would be. 
To Be Fair 
It may be that this herb was not given within the context of traditional Japanese medicine, which is a system known as Kampo, which considers each individual patient’s “constitution.” Based on that system, the researchers note, keishi-bukuryo-gan is best for women who normally tend to feel cold (when they’re not having hot flashes or night sweats), and are deemed to have stagnant qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is a concept in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine that refers to the flow of energy through the body.
But supplement makers are NOT trying to sell this herb within the context of traditional Japanese medicine. PLUS, keishi-bukuryo-gan is a prescription drug in Japan, but it’s available as an unregulated supplement in the U.S. — generally as a capsule or a powder to make tea. 

Japanese herb for hot flashes fails in U.S. trial | Reuters

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Food Sources of Vitamin C

The best source of your vitamins and nutrients comes from FOOD. 

In the form of pills and supplements and powders and polyjuice potions, vitamin C doesn’t act the same way in your body as it does in the form of food. 

Click HERE to see the massive study showing the biggest fail of Vitamin C supplementation.  

So if you’re not going to pop pills — and you do need Vitamin C in your life … what should you include in your diet? 

Here are the foods that have the highest sources of vitamin C :

  • Cantaloupe
  • Citrus fruits and juices, such as orange and grapefruit
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries
  • Watermelon
Vegetables that are the highest sources of vitamin C include:
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
  • Green and red peppers
  • Spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens
  • Sweet and white potatoes
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
  • Winter squash

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Coca-Cola’s Vitamin Water Fails The “Jelly Bean Rule”

See these ads? This is why Coco-Cola is getting sued by the Center For Science In The Public Interest. And, basically, they are getting sued because they fail in something known as “The Jelly Bean Rule”. 

Jelly bean rule
Coca-Cola’s use of health claims (and the word ‘healthy’) violates FDA regulations on vitamin-fortified foods (the so-called ‘jelly bean rule’ rule that prohibits companies from making health claims on foods that only meet various nutrient thresholds via fortification).
The plaintiffs in the class action law suit, who are also represented by Reese Richman LLP and Whatley Drake & Kallas, LLC, argue that “VitaminWater is Coke’s attempt to dress up soda in a physician’s white coat”.
Where Else Should The Jelly Bean Rule Apply?
Think about cereals, and how many sugar-glut cereals are “an important part of a balanced breakfast” because someone ground up a multivitamin in it. 
Here is a general rule: if a product has to ADD vitamins for it to be healthy … it was never healthy in the first place!! It’s like those things that are called “food product”. 
A) if it has to TELL you it’s a food, it’s probably not. 
B) “food product” is not food anyway. 

Coca-Cola VitaminWater class action to go to mediation

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“relaxation’ brownies”? Does the FDA need to step in?

Great question. One sitting US Senator thinks so. Senator Dick Durbin is urging the FDA to take a stand. 

Hash brownies are one thing … but what are “relaxation brownies”? They are brownies laced with melatonin. This is a totally slippery slope because melatonin supplements are widely marketed to promote sleep and can be bought over the counter in the United States. 

Melatonin-containing brownies and cakes, under brand names like Lazy Cakes, Kush Cakes and Lulla Pies, have made headlines in the past week, with two Massachusetts mayors calling for the products to be banned. They claim that the products appeal to children, even though Lazy Cakes’ website explicitly says that the brownies are intended for adults only.

What’s the problem?
Dietary supplements do not need to establish evidence of their products’ safety and effectiveness or require pre-market approval. Not at all. Nothing. Honestly, you could be buying anything!

So, to then put that in a food product crosses a line, because that food product actually does have to be shown to be safe. The people who make the supplements infer that — because melatonin is sold in pills, it should also be able to be sold in foods. 

That’s what Sen Durbin got all up in arms: 
In a letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Durbin wrote: “The website for Lazy Cakes claims their product is, ‘a delicious, chocolate alternative to medication and harmful narcotics to help you safely relax and fall asleep.’ These products appear to be promoting themselves as therapeutic alternatives to medications. As such, the products may be marketed in ways that are inconsistent with federal law.””

Senator Durbin urges FDA action on ‘relaxation’ brownies

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