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.
Because Tennessee ranks 39th in overall health of its citizens [according to America’s Health Rankings], we are passionate about educating the community on how to improve their health. I spend time daily reviewing the latest findings from scientific studies related to health and wellness topics to insure that Seasons is always offering the latest and best solutions for pursuing wellness.
Contrary to the belief of many, good health is not something that can be mandated from government or given to you by a physician. Health is a personal journey acheived only through education and self-awareness. At Seasons, our goal is to provide you with the resources you need to improve the health of you and your family.
Here are five books that are easy reads and are rich in good information for your health journey.
Inflammation Nation by Floyd H. Chilton, PhD
Inflammation Nation was written by Dr. Floyd H. Chilton in 2005. While the book goes back a few years, it is still incredibly relevant. Inflammation is one of the primary problems/obstacles to health today. Inflammation, in the short term, is a necessary part of the healing process. When you are cut, the “inflammation” present through redness, pain, and swelling works to protect the body from invasion and to start the process of healing. But the inflammation subsides quickly. However, in some, inflammation rages on and promotes disease.
It would make sense that if something, certain types of food for example, were causing inflammation in our body and ultimately leading to disease, we would want to eliminate the problem, reduce the inflammation and prevent disease, right? Dr. Chilton discusses the immune system and how our diet affects it. The old adage “you are what you eat” definitely applies here.
Inflammation Nation is an easy read and provides many easy recommendations to incorporate into your daily life.
The Wheat Belly by William Davis
The Wheat Belly is written by William Davis. Very rarely do I encounter clients that have not read or heard of this book. This book touches on a growing problem in America and the world today – an adulterated food supply. Not food supply that is adulterated with parasites or bacteria, but that is adulterated from within. What does that mean? In The Wheat Belly, Dr. Davis touches on the fact that the wheat of today is not the wheat our parents ate. Not only is the nutritional value present in wheat lost, but the genetic modification is likely contributing to inflammatory problems.
The problem with ￼genetically modified foods (GMO) is we have limited knowledge of their impact on the body. And the federal government and its agencies have never done a good job of investigating these items before rushing them to market. Just look at the history of environmental toxins such as phthalates, parabenes, and other volatile solvents, all brought to market labeled as safe only to be removed from the market when revealed as seriously dangerous toxins.
This book is also a very easy read and provides easy dietary recommendations to immediately bring positive changes to your health.
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer by John R. Lee, M.D., David Zava, Ph.D., and Virginia Hopkins
This was the very first integrative medicine book I read in 2006. This book goes back to several founding people in the integrative medicine movement like Dr. John Lee, an oncologist who led the movement in bioidentical hormones and saliva testing. Dr. Lee was ostracized by the medical community, but his commitment to his patients and to true scientific evidence is an example for all to follow. In fact, Dr. Zava believed in this movement so much that he started a saliva-testing company.
As it relates to breast cancer, there are few more published than Dr. Lee and Dr. Zava. I have met Dr. Zava personally on several occasions, and there are few that I would put above his in both scientific integrity and commitment to true science.
This book lays out a different approach to breast cancer, one focusing on prevention instead of early detection. Traditional medicine focuses instead on early detection and cancer treatment. Don’t get me wrong. We need that, but true prevention is where we should first focus.
The book is deep at points, but is a good discussion of biochemistry and physiology as it relates to breast cancer. Its focus on more natural ways to prevent breast cancer is based on the scientific research. The book clears up much of the misinformation about hormones and breast cancer and equips the reader to be advocate in the prevention of breast cancer.
The book’s authors were unafraid to take on traditional medicine, but do so with a good foundation of science.
The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman
Dr. Hyman is a great proponent of wellness and a pillar in the integrative medicine community. This book, published earlier this year, is an easy weekend read with numerous tools to incorporate into everyday life. The focus of this book is nutrition, sugar, in particular.
Obesity is at epidemic levels in the United States. According to CDC data, 13 states now have an obesity rate greater than 30 percent, while in the year 2000, NO states reported obesity rates greater than 30 percent. This book takes the major culprit head-on: diet.
The Blood Sugar Solution delves into diet, insulin, insulin resistance, and a host of other factors contribute to poor health. The book provides many tools to succeed in the “battle of the bulge,” and even includes recipes to help you succeed in your personal health journey.
￼What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Hypertension by Dr. Mark Houston
If you ever have the chance to meet Dr. Mark Houston, you will surely be impressed. Mark Houston, M.D., is Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Director of the Hypertension Institute and Vascular Biology, and Medical Director of the Division of Human Nutrition at Saint Thomas Medical Group, Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.
While his list of credentials are a mouth full, to hear him speak will fill your ear! As a cardiologist focused on an integrative approach, there are few that speak so eloquently on the deep biochemical disease found in cardiovascular disease.
While the subject matter might sound intimidating, this book, is a very easy read and focuses on the underlying dynamics of hypertension and associated complications. Dr. Houston defines the problem and lays out solutions with his wildly successful program for treatment of hypertension using an integrative medicine approach.
Dr. Houston also provides a health discussion of hypertension medications, when needed, and the mode of action and side effects of each. This a definite must-read for anyone on hypertension medications. You might just become more informed than your own physician!
While this book is a self-help guide to natural treatments of hypertension, it is based on sound science and the approach has been extremely successful. This book is also heavily referenced, allowing you the option of pursuing deeper learning if desired. This book removes every obstacle to reducing hypertension except you. It’s your job to act on what you read.
The Naturally Healthy Woman: Whole Health for the Whole Woman by Shonda Parker
Yes, I know I said five and this is number six! But this is a very good manual for women and their health. As an OB/Gyn, my first passion was women’s health. The author, Shonda Parker, whom I have met, is a true blessing to know. There are few who have a passion for health that exceeds hers, and she has an ever better spirit. Shonda is a nurse midwife, has authored many books, and speaks nationally on health and other related topics. This book highlights many of the health issues facing women today, and I predict that the edges of this book will become tethered due to your repetitive use after reading it.
As a nurse midwife, the author’s first passion is pregnancy. This book begins by touching and then builds into many other health issues affecting women. The author provides many natural remedies at the end of each section for the different health issues discussed. The book not only provides natural therapies for the mother/wife, but also for the rest of the household.
Every pathway to health is different. Every journey to wellness is unique. At Seasons, our desire for wellness for all begins with education and knowledge for you. I hope that these books will become additions to your library and provide you with the knowledge you need in your personal journey toward wellness.
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)
With all the attention it’s been getting, I think it’s safe to proclaim Vitamin D the vitamin of the year! That attention is certainly deserved. I have been promoting the wellness effects of Vitamin D for several years. And here’s why.
Vitamin D Therapy Is Great For Bone Health.
Vitamin D has long been known for increasing bone health. It increases calcium and phosphorus absorption in the gut and makes bones stronger. It induces osteoclast maturation—that means it helps with bone restructuring and makes bones heal. It increases calcium deposition in bone and makes bones more dense. And it reduces the parathyroid hormone helping to maintain bone strength. But Vitamin D and bone health are just the beginning.
The Rest Of The Story.
Vitamin D’s benefits are not limited to bone health. Vitamin D receptors are located all over the body: in your bones, instestines, brain, breast, prostate, and lymphocytes. Additionally, many cells have active intracellular receptors such as the pancreas, immune cells, nerve cells, prostate, ovaries, and pituitary gland. Vitamin D benefits your whole body. It is very important for your overall wellness.
As Vitamin D is absorbed by the intracellular sites, additional benefits are implicated. Vitamin D provides benefits for all of these conditions:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Autoimmune diseases
- Inflammatory Conditions
Now that you are more aware of how Vitamin D helps your body, let’s talk about how you can get adequate amounts of Vitamin D.
Good Sources of Vitamin D.
Twenty minutes of unblocked sun exposure daily is a natural source of Vitamin D. But pay close attention to your skin during sun exposure. If you have any sign of sunburn, it’s time to get out of the sun. Vitamin D is also readily available as a supplement in the form of drops, capsules and even injections. Injections are occasionally necessary in patients with extremely low levels of Vitamin D.
Is fortified milk a good source of Vitamin D? Unfortunately, no. Fortified milk does not adequately supply your body with the Vitamin D it needs.
In my next post, I’ll discuss Vitamin D insufficiency and its affects on the body.
More articles about Vitamin D:
Here are the Seasons top five suggestions for the pursuit of wellness.
1. Evaluate Your Diet. Do you make good food choices? Are you overweight? The latest statistics indicate that 58 million Americans are overweight, 40 million are obese, and 4 million are morbidly obese. The vast majority of illness is caused or complicated by being overweight.
2. Evaluate Your Activity. Do you exercise? Small choices add up to increased physical activity, So park further from the grocery store entry and WALK. Take the stairs. Stop working at the computer for 5 minutes and do 50 situps.
3. Have A Wellness Checkup at Seasons of Farragut. The Seasons approach to wellness is centered around balance and prevention. A few medical tests will reveal where your body is deficient. A wellness regimen tailored to YOUR body will relieve hot flashes, sleep difficulties, mood swings and even weight gain.
4. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Vitamin D. Studies indicate the importance of Vitamin D in disease prevention. The level of cold and flu increases in the winter largely due to the decrease of Vitamin D in our system. Medical research even suggests that Vitamin D is the BEST prevention for flu–even better than the vaccine. At Seasons, we evaluate your Vitamin D levels and offer medical-grade Vitamin D supplements in capsules, drops, and even injections, if needed.
5. Decrease Stress. Stress is the enemy. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Take time to smell the flowers. Find a de-stresser that works for you, whether it’s weekly Bible Study, a good book, or coloring with your kids.
An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth A Pound of Cure. Benjamin Franklin said it best when he coined the phrase that’s been repeated for generations, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Former Surgeon General, Dr. Richard Carmona echoed Franklin’s advice in an opinion published by the Arizona Daily Star.
“Sadly,” says Dr. Carmona, “in the United States spending to treat preventable chronic diseases accounts for more than 75 percent of the approximately $2 trillion we spend each year on health care. Americans spend more money on health care than any other nation, yet rank 42nd in life expectancy worldwide, down from 11th two decades ago. While our federal and state governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on treating diseases, they spend less than $10 per person per year to prevent diseases. We are a treatment-focused society, when the real benefits to health and happiness come from preventing diseases before they ever occur.”
Startling, isn’t it. Reading Dr. Carmona’s words reminds us that pursuing wellness should be the focus of our health care. We need to jump off the bandwagon of a treatment-focused society and jump into the pursuit of wellness.
At Seasons, we help you achieve renewal of the body by finding balance. What kind of balance? It’s that “I-don’t-know-what-it-is-but-something-is-definitely-not-right” kind of feeling that seems to plague women in their post-childbearing years. For some women it means hot flashes, sleep difficulties, mood swings, and even weight gain. For others, it’s more vague – perhaps a feeling of general fatigue or malaise. If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, we can help. For more information, contact our office at (865) 675-WELL (9355).