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Are you wasting your money for supplements and vitamins without experiencing any benefits?

The multibillion industry of non-prescription food supplements and vitamins is most likely operating on assumptions. How so?

Absence of controlled clinical testing

Prescription drug has to undergo many stages of clinical trials: to obtain statistically significant trial results there has to be a sufficient research population, control groups, dose safety and tolerance testing and also estimates of benefits versus harm. That is why placement on the market of a prescription drug might take quite many years. When studies in animals have proven potentially safe use for humans, healthy volunteers will try the drug before it is assigned to people with a particular condition or disease. First phases are blinded and double-blinded when neither treating doctor, nor patient knows what they are receiving placebo or the active substance, and the effects of study drug are compared to placebo. Placebo is a drug that looks like the active treatment drug, but has no active substance. That allows excluding false improvement cases and accessing the success rate. Next phases (assuming that the drug has gotten so far) will compare doses or combination treatments. There can be both: dose safety testing and testing in combination. Only when the obtained results from controlled studies (controlled means the indicators and values are taken at baseline and periodically throughout the clinical trial and at the end of it and all results are appropriately documented and patients are monitored) can reveal significant benefit versus risk ratio, as well as statistically significant improvement, the drug would be approved for marketing and selling it.

That’s not the case with supplements: they are left on conscience of producer and manufactured at discretion of a company. Clinical testing and clinically proven in such cases might mean a small population with not properly recorded baseline indicators and improper monitoring throughout the testing period. The outcome of a study always depends on study subjects; that’s why there are meticulously elaborated inclusion and exclusion criteria in real clinical studies. Many supplements usually bypass the multi-patient testing since it is time-; labor- and cost-consuming.

As soon as the first synthetic vitamins were created and as soon as we realized the role and importance of these organic nutrients, it was assumed: there were no risks, but only benefits with their consumption for everybody.

The global market for complexes of vitamin compounds, minerals, herbs with vitamin compounds, enzymes, synthetic proteins and similar substances has become an uncontrollable, huge profits gaining monster. Can you trust a clinical testing that is carried out and paid for by the manufacturing company? That is a very doubtful testing for results because we are talking about billions of dollars in potential profits.

What is the danger?

Unlike any advertisement tells, it is by far not as safe as we believe to take supplements and vitamins, especially in the absence of proof of authenticity (buying online or from not certified provider). Virtually, anybody can manufacture non-prescription supplements because the regulations and standards for this type of products are not sufficiently regulated and controlled. The medical authorities become aware of harmful substance or risks associated with the use of some product ONLY after they receive reports about serious side-effects, illnesses caused by these products or even lethal cases. Do you really want to be the healthy volunteer who goes for it?

Supplementation is important for the treatment of certain health problems, especially clinically significant deficiencies that cause chain reactions in the body by inhibiting some processes; however, there is little evidence of nutritional benefit when used by otherwise healthy people.

The supplement market assumes we are all the same

Overdose or unnecessary consumption of such products can result in side effects. What global market of vitamins and other supplements does not take into account is the individual condition of a person, individual medical history, climate where one resides, nutrition or malnutrition history, specific genetic inheritance and so on, specific conditions and so on. We differ in any aspect: patient A could be absorbing some supplement very well, patient B experiences neither improvement, nor worsening with it, and patient C has side effects; and these differences will be due to their personal metabolism and thousands of other factors. Therefore, it is WRONG to assume that any supplement or vitamin will make you healthier. Vitamin A and E supplements do not only provide any health benefits for generally healthy individuals, but they may increase serious health risks. The wide-spread opinion that omega-3 supplements help maintaining heart health and overall health is somewhat doubtful, too; at least clinical trial (6 years long, in more than 12,000 patients) showed no efficacy as compared to placebo group. We also have to remember that under influence of health maintaining goals, lots of food products have added all kinds of synthetic supplements and vitamins, especially vitamin D and calcium.

Dangerous vitamins and supplements

The safest way to find out our body’s necessities

We need to know and we need to be aware on how our body works, what we are short of and what we have enough. The assumption that life time long consumption of supplements will make us disease-free and increase the life expectancy is not based on strong clinical proofs. It is based on assumption that more is better. We are becoming more knowledgeable thanks to quick lab tests, but once again: the body and mind love BALANCE. Not more, not less, but as much as needed. We receive this in a dose that is suitable for us personally when we consume balanced, nutrient-rich, fresh and organic food. The problem with organic food can be also a misleading labeling, well, use your common sense.

The only way to find out where we are standing is to ask your doctor for tests. If there is a clinically significant deficiency, you might need completely different form of this particular substance, not the over-the-counter version. Repeated testing will show whether you are absorbing any of this supplement or not. There are cases when people take iron supplements for prevention of anemia, but these supplements do not work at all because body does not recognize them in a form they are provided, and that is the main issue with all synthetically produced supplements and vitamins: it is not always that we will be making any use of them, even in case when no harm happens.

Are you obsessed with health issues?

If you are, you should be aware that consumption of supplements won’t have any benefits if you have a good health already. Consumption of nutrient-rich food will provide you with everything in a balanced and proper way. Whenever possible, we have to use the most natural, nothing added and nothing removed products.

wasting-money-for-supplements

I will continue with clinical trials, dose-dependent harms or benefits and explain why some supplements do not work as expected or do not work for every person in the next article.

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31 Comments Post a comment
  1. I think supplements needs to be regulated in terms of making sure what is actually in the bottle is what is on the label. I think many problems with supplements start there.

    Like

    February 7, 2017
    • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

      We know they should be regulated, but companies use this shield to sell anything under “supplement” description. The authorities only recall products from the market when major health risks are noticed, as with sibutramine which was for weight loss, but caused death and heart attacks and strokes. I was helping to compile letters to pharmacies and doctors that time.
      The independent labs (so they say, they are completely independent, but that’s fairly hard to believe) have tested numerous supplements and Walmart was selling stuff which didn’t even contain the component which was on the label. Warning labels are very much lacking sufficient information, and in Canada, everything can be organic as long as the manufacturer can prove the origin of some part of product.
      My intention is, however, to make people aware that even legally manufactured supplements using Good Manufacturing Practice principles are not needed. As long as there is not a clinical deficiency they are not needed. When there is a clinical deficiency, over-the-counter doses won’t help. They are generally adjusted not to cause harm in a healthy volunteer if any testing is done at all. I will continue in next post how supplemented calcium spikes cause heart attacks, overusing iron supplements, vitamin E or D, actually all fat-soluble vitamins has high health risks, etc. People are not aware of that because advertising works hard to convince the global population about things that are not proven at all; and it is convenient not to popularize this opinion, hence, the abnormal profits.

      Liked by 1 person

      February 7, 2017
  2. When I was in the Philippines, I saw ads that portrayed supplements as some kind of miracle medicine or even panacea. Then at the end of the ad, there’s a little (I mean it literally) disclaimer which used some big words: “No therapeutic claims”. But of course, this would just fly by to most viewers.

    Fortunately in Hong Kong, selling and advertising of supplements and vitamins are tightly regulated.

    Like

    February 8, 2017
    • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

      That is very fortunate because here anything goes under “supplement”, that includes major stores and there is no guarantee that stuff they will be containing what it says on the label. It is in somebody’s best interest not to regulate this market.
      You are right: the miracle part is always very big and bright, but the warning, testing and proving part is hardly visible.

      Liked by 1 person

      February 8, 2017
  3. I agree there is a huge loop hole that needs to be filled with some of those claiming half of the ingredients and the claims being made to their benefits..

    Having a daughter who works in a health food store has given me greater insight into some of those bottles on the shelves and what they contain..
    Which is why many of the chain stores can have great promotional weeks of buy one and get the other for a penny.. because most of what is in them is not good quality..

    If we eat a health diet of fresh veg and fruit, get plenty of water, good exercise and fresh air.. We should not need half of these supplements..

    I do take Vit D and extra Vit C during winter and a good Omega Oil supplement .. And I always use well researched Branded Vitamin suppliers..

    The Key is Healthy Eating.. 🙂
    Great info here Inese..

    Like

    February 15, 2017
    • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

      Well, to some extent we have to re-learn this chapter. When I will get a moment I will continue with clinical trials. You also might not need any additional vitamin D because the newest discovery is that we have very INDIVIDUAL requirements for that. Vitamin C is very unstable in grocery store products, but still, there is some and any fruits and vegetables, even potatoes, green onions, dill, parsley have quite enough of it. Vitamin C DOES NOT PREVENT people from getting colds. Colds are caused by viruses. For smokers and people with clinically proven deficiency (as with malnutrition) it is still somewhat needed. The problem is that the substance which we call vitamin C isn’t the whole vitamin: it is a dry fraction in this pill which is obviously not alive and does not come from alive source. The efficacy of this dry pill is very doubtful and most likely we are not absorbing it that much. The key is certainly normal, good quality food.

      Liked by 1 person

      February 15, 2017
      • yes as I said a healthy diet is the best.. 🙂 Garlic I find useful too for aiding against colds.. 🙂 Real garlic not pills 🙂

        Like

        February 15, 2017
      • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

        We use everything, including garlic. Real is the best. I hope I will be able to grow something again because nothing beats the vegetables we have grown in our garden. I’m at the point when I cannot eat out anymore, I always run in some kind of trouble if I do. Well, it’s boring to cook for 365 days, but I simply have to.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 15, 2017
      • Sorry to hear that Inese.. A meal out is nice not to cook now and again.. 🙂 But when you do cook it yourself, you do know what has gone into it.. 🙂 xx

        Like

        February 15, 2017
      • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

        I became type I diabetic after all 9 surgeries, so it can be very difficult not to go very low or very high with glucose. I’m spending all my life with research because I find all the time how I was given the wrong advice when diagnosed. There is so much more to it, it’s insane how complex our body’s regulation mechanisms are! Unfortunately, we cannot repeat that job what they do. We manage somehow, but there are huge flaws in our management. I’m also eating oats for breakfast 365 days a year. The good thing is that I never had any smallest weight or digestive system problems, that is just because I eat what I know. Therefore, I advise anybody to stick with well-known and clean ingredients, that includes purest butter and fattest cream they can find as long as it is not chemical or chemically altered.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 15, 2017
      • That is the best advice ever Inese to eat what we know.. So many foods have additives in now especially the ready made meals so many buy today.. I often wonder , well I know.. most of the problems related are due to these additives.. And I remember well my grandparents both lived well into their 80’s… Ate best butter, lard in their diets such as dripping from cooked meat.. None of these manufactured synthetic margarine’s you get today ..

        Like

        February 15, 2017
      • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

        Oh, never consume any margarine, that’s the most chemical product there can be. They can alter dairy products so much because it is the easiest product along with bread to put in whatever, so that it looks like real dairy product, somewhat tastes like it, but it isn’t. The most difficult thing to get used to Latvian products when I go to Latvia is that these dairy products go bad in 2-3 days. Our Canadian last for month. Are they good and real? No, they are processed and altered and manipulated in all possible ways. I’m sometimes saying: people do not have allergy to dairy products, but to their chemically created substitutes. That is a form which our DNA does not recognize as such. So, yes, I could compare how at first there were no cancers and zero obesity while no chemical products were used and how these cases exploded when chemical stuff was put on our tables and into our lives. When we look around: almost everything is chemically processed: our clothes, our food, our cleaning stuff, all shampoos, skin care stuff, laundry stuff; this simply will produce some effects. Now add to this all chemical supplements and artificial, synthetic things which we put in our body: we are trying to experiment with ourselves how long we can last living in a chemical environment and consuming pure chemicals. It’s no wonder this causes so many cancers, obesity and cardiovascular issues!

        Liked by 1 person

        February 15, 2017
      • I am in total agreement with all you say here Inese… And we have said the same xx

        Like

        February 15, 2017
      • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

        We just have to make everybody aware of that! It’s not easy, but still possible.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 15, 2017
      • No not easy.. but we have to keep knocking upon peoples consciousnesses

        Like

        February 15, 2017
      • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

        At the end: everybody just benefits from knowledge.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 15, 2017
      • Very True Inese xx

        Like

        February 17, 2017
      • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

        Therefore, I wish, more people read something because there are likes here and there, but just a few have read the article. Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

        February 17, 2017
      • Yes.. many fail to READ anything above ten words on ablog.. I have noted the same.. 🙂 with many.. Thankfully I have a set of wonderful WP friends who do read what I post.. 🙂 xxx

        Like

        February 17, 2017
      • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

        I know, and I am also very grateful for having blog friends like you or a few other long-time bloggers.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 17, 2017
      • Likewise.. I may miss a few posts here and there.. but I do so love our conversations when we touch base with each other xx 🙂

        Like

        February 17, 2017
      • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

        I do, too, enjoy the exchange of thoughts and ideas. I just had to leave computer for a while because nurse came to change the dressing on leg. I do it myself other days, but she comes once a week.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 17, 2017
      • I am so sorry it is still not healing.. Just a thought, Have you ever though of applying direct some Very GOOD Manuka Honey Wound Dressings? I know hospitals in NZ,and Australia have used it to heal wounds with good results.. Something to look into if you haven’t already.. xx

        Like

        February 18, 2017
      • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

        I have that dressing, but it didn’t help. I have silver dressings and all kinds of them. The only thing that works so far is Inadine (it’s a non-stick sterile dressing). It was a very large open area, I mean, really large, it’s almost closed, but the part where the detached bone part is still inside gives hard times. All this area had already grafted skin, so it wasn’t the original skin, and that is what causes complications. Those parts where normal skin was open healed no problem. There is no experience with very large surgical wounds on very large previously grafted skin areas. That is a rare condition and situation. So, yes, it could be way better, but since I do not have any GP or family doctor (I cannot get one because there are way too few doctors in this area) I couldn’t get medications for a month and it all went back and worsened during that time. I’m hoping as the weather becomes better, the final healing will happen faster.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 18, 2017
      • I am praying that it does.. xxx ❤

        Like

        February 18, 2017
      • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

        Thanks.

        Like

        February 18, 2017
  4. Very good and interesting article!

    Like

    February 22, 2017
    • Inese Poga Art plus Life #

      Thanks! I appreciate you stopped by and read this post!

      Liked by 1 person

      February 22, 2017
  5. Nice one…❤

    Like

    May 16, 2017
    • Thanks, however, I wouldn’t expect this info to be described as nice. I hoped it will help somebody make the right decision.

      Liked by 1 person

      May 17, 2017

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