The Dark Side of Supplements
Written by: Max MarionWednesday, September 27th, 2017
In 1935, Dr. Tadeusz Reichstein of the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich created the first synthesized vitamin C. In many ways, this marked the launch of the vitamin industry. Since then, the supplement market as a whole has exploded with synthetic vitamins purported to cure and prevent every ailment imaginable. Unfortunately, many of the lofty claims and promises made by these supplement companies have little scientific evidence to support them. Still, despite the fact that many of us are uninformed about what certain vitamin supplements do and how they are made, millions of Americans have made them part of their daily routine.
America is a Drug Culture
America is a drug culture, and the dietary and supplement industries are capitalizing on this in a big way – synthetic materials that are scarcely studied are often released into the market with little to no evidence of either efficacy or safety. Often derived from fermented corn or soy, these vitamins are made as inexpensively as possible and pushed onto unknowing consumers, potentially doing more harm than good. The tides are changing, however, and peer-reviewed studies are starting to point out potential health risks associated with consuming synthetic dietary supplements. The linked article highlights three of these studies. Here’s a snippet taken directly from the website.
The Case Against Multivitamins Grows Stronger | www.npr.org
“Recent studies have shown that too much beta carotene and vitamin E can cause cancer, and it’s long been known that excess vitamin A can cause liver damage, coma and death. That’s what happened to Arctic explorers when they ate too much polar bear liver, which is rich in vitamin A.”
Label Games are Being Played
In theory, a healthy and balanced whole-food diet should be able to provide us with all the nutrients we need. Unfortunately, factors such as the overabundance of processed foods in America coupled with issues like depleted soil quality have lead to a decrease in vitamins and micronutrients in our foods.
Food-based supplements contain natural vitamins, which offer many advantages over synthetic supplements. They can be an invaluable asset in ensuring that you are getting the proper amount of proteins, micronutrients and vitamins to optimize your health. Unfortunately, it is necessary to note that the word “natural” gets thrown around a little too lightly by product manufacturers, because there are no concrete regulations governing the use of the word on products. This means that companies get away with growing isolated vitamins and injecting them into yeast, which then reproduces the vitamin before being deactivated and added to the supplement. You might also see companies add synthetic vitamins to otherwise natural supplements to help “improve” the overall nutrition content listed on the label, making the natural product, well, not so natural. Essentially, manufacturers are intentionally misleading customers by using subpar ingredients and fillers and masking them behind the loosely-used “natural” label. This often leads to consumers paying inflated prices for cheap fillers and synthetic vitamins that will not live up to their marketing claims.
A good indication that your supplement might be substandard is the presence of fillers and binders. These can include microcrystalline cellulose (wood pulp), lactose (milk), and maltodextrin, which is more likely sourced from genetically modified corn. You might also find your product includes artificial colors, flavors, or sugar disguised under different names like sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrin, lactose, dextrose, maltodextrin, or corn syrup, amongst many others. On top of all this, you have to consider the possibility that the other “natural” ingredients listed on your product are actually synthetic vitamins added to improve the label.
This is obviously unjust, so why is it so easy for companies to get away with all this? Because, in addition to the fact that there is nothing regulating the use of the term “natural”, supplement companies often abuse Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA) regulation introduced in 1994. This brought us the little disclaimer found on all or most dietary supplements: “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease…”. In many ways, this is like a get-out-of-jail-free card for supplement and vitamin companies who make highly unfounded claims about their products, thinly veil them behind mildly ambiguous phrasing, and then hide from accountability by using the disclaimer. On top of this, companies are responsible for their own quality assurance and testing and often do not follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Buyers beware – it is very important to not only know what’s in your supplements, but also the company that stands behind them.
Consumers are Becoming Increasingly Educated
Although we are living in a time where people unwaveringly believe that we can replace real food and vitamins with synthetic alternatives without consequence, newer evidence is starting to emerge, and consumers are becoming more aware. The association between health issues and highly processed foods, sugars, and synthetic vitamins and supplements is being more thoroughly explored; currently, research is looking at the link between highly processed foods/synthetic ingredients and health issues like leaky gut syndrome, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and even kidney stone epidemics.
It’s time for consumers to take a step back and begin to analyze and understand what is really good for them. This is why we at Paleoethics are committed to becoming your trusted source for nutrition. We’re dedicated to foregoing outrageous claims and using only whole food ingredients to help you achieve your health goals.
All of our products are manufactured under strict GMP guidelines. We maintain tight control of all our own raw materials by carefully inspecting each supplier; in order to ensure the materials are up to standard, everything is tested for ID, potency, purity, micro, TPC, heavy metals, and pesticides. The finished product is then retested to ensure it either meets or exceeds our label’s claims, and finally, an organoleptic test is done against our master retains to ensure that we release the best possible product with consistent look, taste, feel, and quality.
Our success is due in great part to educated consumers who are making every effort to be better informed.
Doing the right thing sometimes means abandoning the path of least resistance, and that’s why we will continue to choose stringent use of whole-food ingredients over what is popular or what is trending – there is no substitute for naturally-occurring ingredients, and nourishment is always more powerful than stimulation. You are what you eat, so we encourage you to take a critical look at each individual ingredient listed on your supplements’ label and ask yourself if you know what it is, what it does, if it’s beneficial to you, and if you should be putting it into your body. Remember – you only get one life, and your health is your most precious asset.
We challenge you to start reading labels carefully and continue to make informed decisions. You can start right now by reading any of the labels on our products.