Top 5 Reasons for NOT Buying Supplements at Discount Stores: Pharmaceutical-Grade Supplements Explained
Over 75 percent of the world’s population takes some kind of supplement daily. I am a huge advocate of supplements. Everybody should be taking, at the very least, a multi-vitamin. We just don’t get the same nutritional value from our foods that our parents and their parents did.
But will any source do? The quality of most over-the-counter (OTC) supplements just won’t cut it. The old adage “You get what you pay for” still rings true. If it costs $5 for a month’s supply of a particular vitamin, you are getting the quality of that $5, which is not much. So why pay $40 for that same vitamin because it is labeled “pharmaceutical grade?” Let me explain.
As stated by Health*Edge Sciences, there are three grades of raw materials in the U.S.:
- Pharmaceutical Grade
- Food Grade
- Feed Grade
Pharmaceutical grade is defined as greater than 99% purity without binders, fillers, dyes, or other substances. Food grade means it safe for human consumption. And feed grade implies it is safe for animal consumption (which usually ends up as human consumptions…but that is an article for another day). And can the FDA monitor all these supplements in the Unites States? Of course not. It is beyond their scope and ability.
Let’s make break down pharmaceutical grade into a more applicable definition.
Many supplements will only contain 10% of the raw material and 90% of other fillers.
Lack of purity or contamination has been a long-standing problem. From news reports, you might already know that Mercury-contaminated fish had been used in many Omega-3 supplements. That’s not the case with pharmaceutical grade supplements as they commonly exceed the definition of “pharmaceutical grade.” For example, Nordic Naturals exceeds both the Norwegian Medicinal and European Pharmacopoeia standards.
How about globally? According to ConsumerLab in 2002, 5-10% of all supplements were contaminated with lead. Lead in any level is toxic to the body. To have any contamination of such toxic substances as Lead and Mercury is simply unacceptable. Lead and Mercury are listed #2 and #3 respectively, in the 2007 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry‘s toxicity rankings.
All supplements and prescriptions have fillers in them. These fillers are needed, but they can cause many problems with the supplement. First, they can actually inhibit the absorption of the product, leaving the products completely useless. Second, the filler can be toxic to the body. Third, the filler can be a common allergen.
4. Active Form
The key to a good vitamin is not just if the vitamin/supplement is absorbable, but is it absorbable in the active form. Why is this important? One example is the energy required to convert from an inactive to active form. Many of the clients that we see at Seasons struggle with energy production, ATP. The conversion of inactive to active requires enzymes, which requires energy. We conserve energy by giving the supplements in the active form when at all possible.
The most common prescribed vitamin B12 on the market is cyanocobalamine. The body makes cyanide as a by-product of the break down of cyanocobalamine. Obviously, we want to avoid the introduction of any potentially toxic substance to the body. At Seasons, we choose to give the active form of Vitamin B12, methyl-cobalamine, to avoid this toxic by-product. There is no reason to give the inactive form of Vitamin B12.
5. Third Party Testing
A good test of any product, is not what you say about it, but what third parties say. This is one of the big benefits of pharmaceutical grade supplements. They will be tested by third party companies to assure quality, potency, and absence of contamination. Of course, there are some “pharmaceutical grade” companies that don’t follow these standards, and this is the reason to work with your Integrative Medicine physician to ensure that your supplements are of the highest quality.
It seems to me that medicine is losing its way. I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but I am VERY concerned about the growing trend of polypharmacy. It’s a problem not just for people, in general, but specifically for children.
How bad is the problem? According to Mike Adams at NaturalNews, the percentage of children on prescription drugs is going up, up, up. Up to 25% of all children are on some kind of chronic prescription drug!
Just look at the numbers reported by the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “So Young, and So Many Pills” (12.28.2010) and cited in this article by Dr. David Brownstein.
In 2009, prescriptions for children included:
- 45,388,000 Asthma medications
- 24,357,000 ADHD medications
- 9,614,000 Antidepressant medications
- 6,546,000 Antipsychotic medications
- 5,224,000 Antihypertensive medications
- 307,000 Sleep aids
- 424,00 Non-insulin diabetes medications
- 94,000 Statin (high-cholesterol) medications
These are startling figures that should make any parent shutter. What are the long-term implications? We don’t know.
These drugs being prescribed for children are not just some mild prescription drugs either. According to the Wall Street Journal, These include sleep aids, anti-depressants, ADD/ADHD drugs, anti-cholesterol drugs (statins), and diabetic medications All are very dangerous drugs.
Let’s look at Prozac for example. Prozac has a side effect profile larger than any other prescription available. Over 3,500 deaths have been attributed to Prozac. The approval study of Prozac involved 278 people over 8 weeks. No long-term studies were included. Additionally, Prozac dosing was designed for an average 170-pound individual. Do you know any children that weigh 170 pounds? I’ll answer for you. NO. Any child being dosed with Prozac is likely being overdosed, unless they weigh 170 pounds.
What about anti-depressants? Are there any studies that have looked at the long-term effects of anti-depressants over, let’s say, 40+ years? Again, a big NO is the answer to this question, too!
We are told that these medications are needed. Prozac is supposed to balance out the imbalances. Unfortunately, that’s a statement that has been made before that was eventually determined to be false. Heroin, Cocaine, PCP, Methadone, LSD, and even Xanax were all pharmaceuticals that were supposed to be safe and effective. All but Xanax are now controlled and/or illegal! In their book Break Your Prescribed Addiction, Billy Sahley, Ph.D., and Katherine Birkner, Ph.D., do a great job of pointing this out.
As a physician, the big question I ask is this: whom are we serving? Are we serving our system of medicine? Are we serving big pharmaceutical companies? Are we serving the FDA?
We should be serving our patients. We should be protecting our children.
Want to cut future costs of medicine? Let’s get our children off these medicines that mask their problems. Instead, let’s solve their health problems by finding their true source. Let’s listen to physicians like Dr. Danny Benjamin, a professor of pediatrics at Duke University who noted in the WSJ article that “parents must do more to question the safety of medicines their doctors prescribe.”
I think that’s advice that applies across the spectrum of patients. What are you taking? Why are you taking it? And here’s the big question in my book. Are the pharmaceuticals you are taking REALLY solving the problems that you have? Are they just a mask?
Inadequate sunlight exposure has been linked to many cancers. (Click here for article.)
- Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
Recent research suggests that vitamin D therapy can prevent cancer. Another article suggested that Vitamin D levels greater than 55 ng/ml would prevent 60,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 85,000 cases of breast cancer in North America. The same article projected that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer world wide would be prevented each year. In fact, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently showed a 77% reduction in breast, ovarian, colorectal cancers as well as lymphoma and leukemia just by normalizing the amount of Vitamin D in a patient’s body.
Vitamin D Therapy Another Cog In The Wheel of Wellness.
I practice Integrative and Functional Medicine and this research supports my approach. By replacing exactly what the body needs, in this case Vitamin D, my patients can improve their bone health, improve symptoms in a myriad of other conditions, and possibly even prevent cancer in their bodies. No anti-depressants, no relaxants, no harmful medications, and no side effects. Our focus is treating the cause of symptoms and, as a result, providing true health and wellness.
Related articles by Zemanta and others:
- How Much Vitamin D Should You Be Taking? (health.usnews.com)
- Why Black People Need More Vitamin D
- 5 Ways Vitamin D Could Save Your Life (abcnews.go.com)
John 8:32 says, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” As a Christian, I wholeheartedly believe that scripture. In that case, John was quoting Jesus Christ, and the truth of which he spoke was the truth of Jesus’ purpose for his life, death, and resurrection on this earth.
We hear that phrase thrown around in the everyday vernacular because it rings true for worldly topics, not just the heavenly. A good decision can only be made about a matter when the truth of opposing sides is known. Otherwise, any decision seems tainted in some way. Truth makes things clear and eliminates the gray in the black and white of the decision-making process.
So where is the gray in the world of healthcare? You don’t have to look far. In modern healthcare, physicians depend on the latest prescription drug to solve the problems of a symptomatic patient rather than delving deeper into the underlying physical chemistry. Having my practice dictated by which pharmaceuticals to dispense didn’t seem right in my soul. Where was the preventative care for the body? Was there a way to prevent disease and return the body to optimal health?
Truth in health and wellness is found in physiology and biochemistry. I, often begrudgingly, waded my way through the classes of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology, not knowing that one day I would return to those roots as the fundamentals of my medical practice.
In returning to these fundamentals, I now spend time analyzing the body’s current function and, as naturally as possible, returning the body to optimal health.
Can I prevent disease? Well, not entirely. The overwhelmingly toxicity of our environment and the unique genetics of each person have a factor in disease, too. But the idea behind anti-aging and functional medicine is to provide my patients with the best quality of life possible for as long as they live instead of being debilitated by disease for years. It’s all about HEALTHY LIVING.
As I continue to practice medicine, I realize how important it is to EDUCATE. Health and wellness education is one of our primary missions at Seasons. It is the lack of wellness in north Louisiana which led me to seek further education in functional medicine (I am now board certified and fellowship trained in Functional Medicine) giving me the tools that I need to solve the health problems my patients deal with every day.
You see, I became a physician to help people get better and feel better. And because that wasn’t happening with the protocols currently being used by the American College of Gynecology, I sought a better way of doing things. But in doing so, I have also found that educating my patients, the community, the state of Louisiana, and even my fellow physicians is required. How to do that is the question!
Allow me to introduce you to DIIGO. Notice on the front page of our website in the column on the right there is a box labeled Seasons Diigo Updates. Diigo is a “cloud-based information management service that enables users to collect, highlight, access and share a variety of information, on a variety of devices,” according to their blog. That’s a fancy definition. For you non-tech types, Diigo allows me to bookmark what I’m reading and share it with YOU.
From the Seasons Diigo list, you can see what I’m reading — the latest developments and research in health and wellness — and what I recommend that YOU read in order to educate yourself. I use this tool to organize scientific research available on the world wide web that will help YOU understand the Seasons Five Points of Wellness (nutrition, exercise, hormone balance, reducing inflammation, and detoxification).
The abstracts (brief synopsis of studies) and articles you find on our Diigo list represent the latest discussions by physicians and scientists from around the world whose research contributes to your understanding of health and wellness TRUTHS. This is not information regurgitated and twisted by a news report. This is the real, actual science.
If you have questions about our preventative approach to healthcare, then read, and learn for yourself what the latest research indicates about the Seasons approach to wellness. I update our Diigo list almost daily, so check back often. Or better yet, subscribe to our list so that you receive daily updates of new wellness research.
With the world wide web at your fingertips, information is so readily available. You are not limited by the resources on your street, in your town, in your region, or even in your state. You have a whole world of information available at your fingertips. At Seasons, we’re trying to get the right information into the hands of those who are truly passionate about taking charge of their own wellness. And if you are reading this, then THAT IS YOU!
Happy reading. And cheers to the pursuit of wellness.
How do I keep up with the Seasons Diigo List?
- Visit our website regularly. You can click on any of the links in the Seasons Diigo Updates box and go directly to the article.
- Visit Diigo regularly. Visit http://groups.diigo.com/group/seasonswc and see the list there.
- Have summary emails sent to you daily/weekly. To do this, you’ll need to create a diigo account at http://diigo.com. Once you’ve created an account, you can join the Seasons Wellness group. Depending on the notification setting you choose when you create your account, you’ll receive a summary email with all the articles I’ve bookmarked that day or that week.
- Wellness: Do Doctors Know What To Look For? (time.com)
- Healthy Medicine: A New Model for Cancer Care (truthonmedecine.wordpress.com)
- Seasons Diigo Updates
- Integrative, Functional Medicine Comes to Hawaii (prweb.com)
- Wellness: Do Doctors Know What To Look For? (time.com)
- Wellness: Do Doctors Know What To Look For? (time.com)
- Talking with your doctor about COPD: NetWellness (cleveland.com)
- Why Become a Naturopathic Doctor? (brighthub.com)
The following guest post was written by Dr. Ron Grisanti, a board certified chiropractic orthopedist with a master’s degree in nutritional science from the University of Bridgeport. You can read more of Dr. Grisanti’s posts at www.FunctionalMedicineUniversity.com and www.Clinical-Rounds.com.
It’s a science-based, natural way to become healthy again
Functional Medicine is patient-centered medical healing at its best. Instead of looking at and treating health problems as isolated diseases, it treats individuals who may have bodily symptoms, imbalances and dysfunctions.
As the following graphic of an iceberg shows, a named disease such as diabetes, cancer, or fibromyalgia might be visible above the surface, but according to Functional Medicine, the cause lies in the altered physiology below the surface. Almost always, the cause of the disease and its symptoms is an underlying dysfunction and/or an imbalance of bodily systems.
Named diseases are just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, according to Functional Medicine, are the real causes of a patient’s health problems.
If health care treats just the tip of the iceberg, it rarely leads to long-term relief and vibrancy. Identifying and treating the underlying root cause or causes, as Functional Medicine does, has a much better chance to successfully resolve a patient’s health challenge.
Using scientific principles, advanced diagnostic testing and treatments other than drugs or surgery, Functional Medicine restores balance in the body’s primary physiological processes. The goal: the patient’s lifelong optimal health.
How Functional Medicine Heals a Key Health Care Gap
Today’s health care system is in trouble because it applies a medical management model that works well for acute health problems to chronic health problems, where it is much less successful.
If you have a heart attack, accident, or sudden lung infection such as pneumonia, you certainly want a quick-thinking doctor to use all the quick-acting resources of modern medicine, such as life-saving technology, surgery and antibiotics. We are all grateful about such interventions.
However, jumping in with drugs, surgery and other acute care treatments too often does not succeed in helping those with chronic, debilitating ailments, such as diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. Another approach is needed.
The Two-Pronged Healing Approach to Functional Medicine
To battle chronic health conditions, Functional Medicine uses two scientifically grounded principles:
- Add what’s lacking in the body to nudge its physiology back to a state of optimal functioning.
- Remove anything that impedes the body from moving toward this optimal state of physiology.
Plainly put, your body naturally wants to be healthy. But things needed by the body to function at its best might be missing, or something might be standing in the way of its best functioning. Functional Medicine first identifies the factors responsible for the malfunctioning. Then it deals with those factors in a way appropriate to the patient’s particular situation.
Very often Functional Medicine practitioners use advanced laboratory testing to identify the root cause or causes of the patient’s health problem. Old-fashioned medical diagnosis helps too, in the form of listening carefully to the patient’s history of symptoms and asking questions about his or her activities and lifestyle.
For treatment, Functional Medicine practitioners use a combination of natural agents (supplements, herbs, nutraceuticals and homeopathics), nutritional and lifestyle changes, spiritual/emotional counseling, and pharmaceuticals, if necessary to prod a patient’s physiology back to an optimal state. In addition, educating the patient about their condition empowers them to take charge of their own health, ultimately leading to greater success in treatment.
Treating Symptoms Versus Treating the Person
In the dominant health care model today, medication is used to get rid of people’s symptoms. If the patient stops taking the medication, symptoms generally return.
Functional Medicine approaches health problems differently. Instead of masking the problem, it aims at restoring the body’s natural functioning. Although Functional Medicine practitioners may prescribe pharmaceuticals, they are used to gently nudge the patient’s physiology in a positive direction so the patient will no longer need them.
For example, conventional doctors would normally prescribe pharmaceuticals like Prilosec, Prevacid or Aciphex to treat acid reflux or heartburn. When the patient stops taking such drugs, the heartburn symptoms come back. In contrast, a Functional Medicine practitioner might find that a patient’s acid reflux is caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Eradicating the Helicobacter pylori might very well lead to the end of heartburn symptoms, permanently.
It’s also important to note that in Functional Medicine, treatment for similar symptoms might vary tremendously for different patients, according to their medical history and results of laboratory tests. Factors that can come into play in producing the same symptoms include toxic chemicals, pathogenic bacteria, parasites, chronic viral pathogens, emotional poisons like anger, greed or envy, and structural factors such as tumors or cysts.
The Roots of Functional Medicine
You may be surprised to learn that Functional Medicine isn’t new. It actually represents a return to the roots of modern scientific medicine, captured in this statement by Sir William Osler, one of the first professors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and later its Physician-in-Chief: “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”
Another important saying by Osler is “If you listen carefully to the patient, they will tell you the diagnosis.” This encapsulates the importance placed in Functional Medicine on taking a thorough history from the patient.
Your Experience of Functional Medicine
We have titled this web site, “Your Medical Detective,” because patients often feel their Functional Medicine practitioner is leaving no stone unturned in their relentless research to pinpoint the causes of a particular patient’s symptoms.
When you consult a Functional Medicine practitioner, the first step is always your history. Practitioners are trained on how to unravel and make sense of a complicated story. Often clues in the story lead to the identification of key imbalances.
The next set of clues comes from a comprehensive physical examination, which includes many nearly forgotten examination procedures used by famous diagnosticians (both living and long gone), such as chapman reflex points, ankle brachial reflex and nail inspection.
The final set of clues comes from advanced laboratory testing. Innovative, cutting-edge lab tests help the practitioner look deeply into a patient’s physiology to identify how it has been compromised and how physiological balance can be restored.
After diagnosis and treatment, a Functional Medicine patient can expect his or her symptoms to diminish in severity, with a renewed sense of well-being and significant increase in health and vitality.
While there is no substitute for face-to-face treatment from a trained Functional Medicine practitioner, this site educates you on the Functional Medicine perspective and on the kinds of clues and treatments that may be key to restoring you to optimal health.
“If wrinkles must be written on our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old.” — James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States.
I read that quote by President Garfield the other day and it occurred to me how important his statement was in my practice of medicine. What causes wrinkles? What causes the spirit to grow old? What can damage the heart? The answer is stress. Stress is not something that just exists. Stress is not just a term used to describe forces applied as in engineering. Stress is real and it affects our hearts. Stress kills.
What impact does stress have on the health of our heart?
- 43% of all adults suffer stress related adverse health effects.
- 75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians are stress-related.
- Stress is directly linked to heart disease according to a new study from University College London.
The interesting thing about stress? It’s not just external. Stress is both external and internal. There is stress of day-to-day life. And then there is the silent physiologic stress. The internal stress occurs in the form of obesity, food sensitivity, and inflammation to name a few.
How is stress affecting you? Ask your heart. Focus on keeping your heart healthy by limiting and relieving your stress this Valentine’s Day. While we can’t always eliminate the causes of stress in our life, we can control how we allow it to affect us!
- Make good food choices to give your body the right kind of energy that lasts and helps you work and feel better.
- Get regular exercise. It boosts your metabolism, fights fatigue, and even elevates your mood helping you to cope with stress more effectively.
- Take time to meditate and pray.
- Take a break and relax whether it’s a soak in the tub or a good book.
Take care of your heart. That’s the best gift you can give those you love!
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We live in a toxic world. There is no denying it. And concern over our exposure to toxins as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast are voiced to me on a daily basis.
Oil, however, is not the only toxin to which we can be exposed. Pesticides, insecticides, phthalates, and heavy metals are all toxins. Even prescription medicines are a source of toxins. Prescription drugs and their side effects are the third leading cause of death. They deplete us of vitamins and minerals and block metabolic pathways, the body’s internal communication highway. Vitamins, minerals, and even bioidentical hormones, if in excess, can be toxic to our bodies. The key is balance. When the body’s chemistry is balanced, then the body is able to work at its designed optimal level.
It’s obvious from the oil spill that toxins are a big issue. But what about reversing the damage done by toxins? Can it be done? Detoxification is a hot topic these days. The word toxin comes from the Greek word toxikon meaning arrow poison. This term was first introduced to medicine by Dr. Ludwig Briegger in 1888. Dr. Briegger determined that toxins equal poison to our body.
The idea of detoxification, however, goes back even further than the introduction of toxins to the medical vocabulary. It goes back to the creation of man. Every cell in our body performs detoxification. The most prominent detoxification organs are the liver, kidneys, and skin.
The idea of body cleansing (detoxification) goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. They understood that the body cannot continue to receive loads of toxins without eliminating them from the body. Remember, this was an Ancient Civilization, not yet exposed to the toxic world in which we currently live.
With the rise of modern civilization and Western medicine, physicians disregarded the idea of detoxification early in the 20th century. However, the body of evidence supporting detoxification remains unchanged. Evidence supports the fact that we are exposed to many toxins and these toxins accumulate and overwhelm our God-given detoxification systems.
The oil spill impact. Let’s talk about the immediate and future affects of the oil spill. What can we expect as a result of this toxic exposure? We can expect a significant impact in three areas: water, food, and air.
Water. The impact on the waster is already evident in the large “dead zones” resulting from clouds of methane gas in the Gulf waters. Eventually, the impact will spread to the Gulf’s tributaries as well as our drinking water.
Food. The impact on our food is not yet determined. But we can already see the impact on the cost of Gulf seafood. Based on our current knowledge of mercury toxicity and the fish industry, it is also reasonable to extrapolate that their will be some kind of effects from the oil on seafood from the Gulf and its contributory waters.
Air. The impact on the air is not yet determined. But if we look at the increased risk of lung disease in the Exxon Valdez oil spill clean-up crews, we can assume there might be similar issues with clean-up crews of the BP Horizon oil spill. Suspicious evidence is already appearing in the crops of the lower Gulf Coast states.
The immediate impact on the Gulf region’s wildlife is evident to all. Look to the long-term impact on wildlife in Alaska for clues as to what the Gulf Coast region may face for years to come.
What if the cure is worse than the disease? Cleaning the oil spill with chemical dispersants may be worse than letting Mother Nature clean up the mess all on her own. Let’s look at the long-term results of cleanup for another oil spill.
The 1978 oil spill off the cost of Normandy was cleaned up two different ways due to the large size of the spill and the economic impact of the spill area. Some areas of the oil spill were treated with chemical dispersants, while others were left untreated. The untreated areas had recovered in five years. Yes, you read that correctly. The ecosystems of the untreated oil spill areas returned to normal in just five years. Now here’s the really interesting part. The areas treated with chemical dispersants are STILL recovering. What if that’s the case with the chemical dispersant-treated areas in the Gulf? Oil is a biological compound and will be consumed by bacteria — though the time frame may be long.
Now here’s the real kicker. The chemical dispersant used in the Gulf oil spill is the same used in the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 and was banned in England. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s been banned. But BP (which stands for British Petroleum) used it to clean up the oil spill. Ironic, isn’t it. It was banned in England, but is it okay for us?
Here’s a frightening fact: no person directly associated with the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill is still alive today. In fact, the average age of death was 51. From that, I think it’s safe to say that the toxic exposure that Gulf Coast residents are receiving is not safe for the body.
In 20 years, we will look back and know the long-term effects of this toxic exposure. We will know what diseases developed and what the secondary effects were on our drinking water and our crops. If we are already toxic from everyday exposure to chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, etc., then what will be the result of the added toxins from the Gulf oil spill?
The bottom line? We should not wait. We need to detoxify our bodies. Toxins, whether man-made or man-induced, were not intended to be inside our bodies. It doesn’t take a Ph.D., M.D., D.O. (just fill in your letters) to understand that. It is just common sense.
We need to support the God-created detoxification systems already present in our bodies with proper cleansing, targeted nutrition, conscientious reduction of our exposure to toxins, and, when needed, medically-supervised detoxification programs.
Dr. Goodyear is a board certified and fellowship-trained Metabolic Specialist.