By Paul Scicluna, 4 March 2015
I had a friend contact me recently to find out my thoughts on a particular brand of supplement she was thinking of taking. I’m glad she contacted me - it’s spurred me on to write this blog, and open people’s eyes to some of the elements, additives and flavors in supplements that will shock and surprise you. Plus, it will expose some of the industry’s tricks.
For privacy, I have replaced my friend’s name with “Sally” and removed the brand of supplements.
Now, the supplements industry is HUGE! According to the FDA, Americans spend more than $25 billion a year on dietary supplements. What’s more, the global supplement market is worth close to $70 billion according to research from Euromonitor.
Thanks to companies with their influential marketing, they’ve had the public believe that supplements are good for you, but while not fully disclosing all the ingredients contained in them. Therefore, manipulating them to believe it’s healthier.
As a health coach and nutrition specialist, I’ve had so many people ask, “What supplements should I take?”
My answer, “You don’t need to take supplements.” If you have holes in your nutrition you shouldn't be filling those holes with pills and powders. You need to adjust your diet to get quality nutrition instead of synthetic chemicals.
I checked out the products on the website that “Sally” referred me to. I looked at the high protein meal replacement shake (strawberry flavor). The ingredients list is huge and that’s always a sign to steer clear of the product. The bigger the ingredients list of anything the further you should keep it from your body. Apples contain thousands and thousands of nutritional components but they don’t need an ingredients list, as they are all truly natural.
The product also contained a lot of oxides. Anything oxidized is rusted. Metals that have rusted have oxidized. These elemental forms of minerals are the cheapest form they add to supplements and also the worst kind.
So as an example, Iron Oxide or Zinc Oxide are both oxidized (rusted) elemental minerals. Not good at all. They only have about an 8-10% absorption rate in the body and those compounds get caught up in muscle and organ tissues. The body has a hard time removing them. So can you see why you aren’t getting the quality of nutrients these companies claim you should be getting?
There were also plenty of chelates (chelated minerals) such as “copper amino acid chelate”. To increase the absorption of an elemental mineral they use amino acid chelates. So they take the elemental mineral or oxide as previously mentioned, and bond or wrap it with an amino acid. This increases the absorption rate to between 30-40%.
However, when it’s processed by the body you end up with far more elemental minerals and oxides in your body. Your body now has even more to deal with as explained previously.
99% of all vitamins on the market are synthetic chemicals. No wonder there’s such as big vitamin deficiency in society! In my opinion the ones in these products would be of this type.
For example, 99% of Vitamin E supplements are usually made from petroleum, turpentine, sugar, and artificial preservatives. According to the New York Academy of Sciences, synthetic Vitamin E has been shown to block the absorption of natural Vitamin E from the foods you eat.
Also the FDA allows the blended version of Vitamin E added to supplements and other products to be labeled as “Natural,” even though 95% of the blended version is synthetic and only 5% is natural. Work that one out! So do you really think you’re getting the quality nutrients that your bodies actually need? Think about it, you’re paying for this rubbish.
Unfortunately, most people have no idea what they are consuming due to the labeling laws that allow manufacturers to hide ingredients and additives or label them with a code. This only makes it harder for the consumer to know what they are consuming.
Also, the product contained “natural strawberry flavor” and “natural flavors”. The term “Natural” is misleading. Most “Natural” flavors are not what you think they are.
For example vanilla, strawberry and raspberry to name a few are produced from castoreum. Castoreum actually comes from the castor sacs of the animal we know as a beaver. These castor sacs are located within the animal’s anus. It’s times like these you wish you didn’t have an imagination! The beaver use this slimy brown substance to mark its territory but we use it to flavor many things, even the majority of perfumes will contain castoreum.
So it’s up to you if you want to consume these types of products to supplement your diet. Trust me there are a lot worse elements than what I’ve listed here.
But as you can see, the marketing and sales around all these products doesn’t lead you to the truth of what is inside them. And in my belief, they won’t lead you to improved health.
Many sales people selling supplement products wouldn’t have a clue where the ingredients in these products come from or what they are derived from. Now, in many cases it’s not their fault either. They’re just learning what they’ve been told is the supposed truth.
If you wanted a super healthy meal replacement drink or a pre or post workout drink, then smoothies or juices using fresh fruits and veggies are the best alternatives.
Plus, if you use ingredients such as spinach it will give you a huge boost of nutrients, enzymes, fiber and amino-acids to help fill you up and give you a large injection of quality “natural” nutrients. If you have veggies you can sweeten it up by adding fruits such as berries, watermelon and bananas.
Now that’s what I call a truly natural and healthy “supplement.” The way you are meant to get your daily nutrition.
Fresh is best, but if you need to, freeze your favorite veggies or fruits when they’re not in season. You can also save money by implementing this tip.
You can download my free eBook here with some of my favorite juices and smoothies, including one with avocado! They contain only truly natural nutritional components with no harmful additives or flavors that may harm you. They’ll smash any multi-vitamin supplement or any meal replacement protein shake on the market when comparing the nutritional content.
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