Are Your Supplements Helping Or Hurting You?

Are Your Supplements Helping Or Hurting You?

Before Heather was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and we began to learn and understand nutrition at an entirely different level, we, like so many others, would purchase our supplements at Costco, Walmart, GNC and the Vitamin Shoppe (Amazon wasn’t as prevalent in 2008 as it is today, otherwise we would have likely purchased from there as well).  Why? Because they were cheaper. But cheaper is seldom better.

For years, we thought we were doing the right thing, trying to save some money yet still provide our bodies with the nutrients it needed for optimal function. Unfortunately, we were sadly mistaken.

All Supplements Are Not Created Equal

Fortunately and unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate the supplement industry.  This works to your benefit because, as we know, the government and pharmaceutical companies have no interest in keeping you healthy.  If the FDA were to begin regulating supplements, because they interfere with the profits of the pharmaceutical industry, many of the restorative supplements would likely be banned, and nobody would be allowed to benefit from them.

On the other hand, because the FDA doesn’t regulate your supplements, you have no idea what you’re ingesting; if they’re working, or if they’re harmful.  Many of the retail supplement brands get their raw materials from China, which have even less controls in place than we do here in the United States.  It’s not uncommon for toxic levels of lead or cadmium to be present in those pills.  In addition, many of those “vitamins” are derived from petroleum or coal tar.  None of the aforementioned are things I would like my wife and I to ingest, or our clients, or our Jack Russells.

Not only do they contain toxic ingredients, but the “nutrients” they claim to be comprised of come from very poor quality raw materials, many times expired, which is why they can be sold for so cheap.  Because of these reasons, that multivitamin you’re taking may either not be absorbed properly, or may actually deplete your body of the exact nutrients you’re attempting to replenish.  As an example, years ago, I’d read a third party review of fish oil brands, some of which contained mostly soy oil instead of actual oil from fish.  Costco’s brand, Kirkland, was one of those offenders.

What To Look For When Purchasing Supplements

When purchasing supplements, there are a few things you should always look for.

  • Purchase supplements that are considered “pharmaceutical grade” or “professional grade”.  They will likely contain much higher quality ingredients and typically undergo more strict testing and analysis prior to going to market.
  • Look for companies that are NSF GMP Registered (Good Manufacturing Practices).  This will provide assurance that the products are manufactured and distributed from facilities following the highest standards of quality control and assurance.  Such facilities are audited semi-annually to assess personnel, the physical location, equipment used, production and process controls, holding and distribution, product complaints, record keeping and recall procedures.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a Certificate of Analysis & Raw Material Testing.  This will provide documentation of the raw material’s identity, potency and purity.  They may also provide an Independent Laboratory Analysis which provides an additional level of quality assurance that all raw materials used are monitored for potential contaminants, and that what’s defined on the label is actually in the bottle.

Cheap is not better 

Unfortunately, no reputable company can manufacture high quality supplements inexpensively.  It’s impossible.  If it is cheap, it’s likely garbage.  And if it’s a quality, reputable practitioner grade brand, and it’s being drastically discounted, it’s likely a scam.  For starters, natural health practitioners, like chiropractors, functional nutritionists, etc, are required by the manufacturer to sell the products at a suggested MSRP, and with no more than a 15% discount off that suggested price.  If you’re purchasing from a website with a rather large discount, there’s a very good chance you’re getting even less than what you’re actually paying for.  More on this in a bit.

Never Purchase From Amazon Or Other Discount Supplement Websites

When buying toilet paper or razor blades, it might be a good practice to find the best deals… might be….  When buying supplements that you’re going to ingest, it’s never a good idea to bargain shop.  If you do, you may pay the difference with your health.

As mentioned earlier, it costs a good sum of money to manufacture quality supplements, herbs, protein powders and sports nutrition products.  If it’s cheap, it may not only be poor quality, but toxic as well.  There are more than a few shady companies out there trying to make a buck at the expense of the health-minded individual.  Many of these companies do this in a few ways..

  • The products may be counterfeit. Counterfeiters from countries like China and India actually create labels and paperwork identical to some of the more reputable practitioner grade supplement manufacturers, but fill the bottles with capsules that may have ten times the nutrients on the labels or ten times less.  The FDA has actually FDA and IACC (International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition) have actually found some capsules filled with saw dust. Counterfeit supplements are estimated to be a $600 billion industry.  You seriously have no idea what you’re putting in your body when purchasing from Amazon.  Many of these products actually make their way into retail outlets as well.
  • The products are expired.  Many times, reputable manufacturers will have a fire sale on near expiring products.  There are scam artists out there that will purchase that genuine product for pennies on the dollar.  They’ll replace the label with a fake expiration date and sell it as new.  Often times, they’ll mix the real capsules with counterfeit capsules, and again, sell it as new.
  • The products are stolen.  Unfortunately, we live in a world with a lot of dishonest people.  Some of these moral lacking individuals break into the warehouse of those reputable companies, steal pallets of product, then turn around and sell them on the black or grey markets.  Again, you never know what you’re ingesting when purchasing from online sources other than practitioners.  Another issue that arises from these practices is that it drives up the price of the real product, which again, negatively impacts the consumer.

Whether it’s the food you’re eating or the supplements you’re taking, cheap is not health building. The difference between most retail and online discounted supplements and NSF GMP Registered, practitioner/professional or pharmaceutical grade supplements are like the difference between hormone & antibiotic ridden, GMO corn & soy fed beef vs. organic, free range, grass fed hormone free beef (yes, there’s a difference).  The latter is health building while the former is health breaking. You either pay for the quality now, or pay for the consequences later.

Damian Dubé
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Comments 3

  1. What is a safe company to buy vitamins from that would not change labels or expiration dates? One that you are getting what it says on the label?

    1. Hi Kristi, That’s a great question! We are extremely particular when choosing and recommending supplements, which is why we are in the process of creating our own line of e3 Energy Evolved supplements. These are what we would recommend to you and to all of our clients. The line will be live within the next 4-6 weeks, we would recommend checking back at that time in the “Shop” section of our website for a variety of supplements.

      Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
      Lauren, e3ee

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