Money impacts every decision that we make. You might wonder why a column on natural health would be about money – I find money to be an important aspect in choosing the right supplements to take.
I assume that everyone takes supplements to be healthier – otherwise why bother. But the question I ask is “are your supplements making you healthier?” I see many supplements in my day to day business – those that I sell, those from vendors who want me to sell theirs, and those that people bring in to show me what they are taking.
At least half of what I see is not worth taking. Before I go further, I would like to say that nutritional supplements are big business – really big business. Vitamins and herbs used to be manufactured by companies that were trying to make the best products to get the best results. However, over time, our wonderful American system gave birth to those who could use cheap raw materials and cheap manufacturing processes and make products that make them money – regardless of whether they actually work or are good for you.
I am often asked how a product I sell is different from a similar product sold by big discount chains. My number one answer is quality. In quality products, you will not find artificial fillers and dyes, you will not find tablets made with calcium carbonate (a fancy word for chalk), you will not find chemical substances like propylene glycol (antifreeze), you will not find synthetic vitamins or coal tar derived vitamins, you will not find shellac coatings, and you will not find irradiated or pesticide laden herbs.
Now you may be asking why this list of things you will not find in quality supplements is important. The answer is that they are either toxic, do not assimilate well, are not recognizable by the body and are therefore considered a toxin, or actually cause damage to cellular DNA (the blueprint by which cells reproduce). If you are taking supplements to improve your health, why would you take a product that has these qualities? The answer is always about money - the product was cheap.
I would like for all my readers (thank you for putting up with me) to go to their vitamin shelves and read labels. If the ingredient list on your multivitamin begins with calcium carbonate, throw it away – it is not worth taking. It is a cheap product that probably contains my entire list of what is not in a quality product. If your vitamin contains synthetic vitamin E which will be listed as dl-alpha tocopherol, throw it away – it is not worth taking.
I would like for you to read every label regardless of where you got your product. And don’t think that a product recommended by a medical doctor is exempt from this standard. Some of the lowest quality supplements I have seen were recommended by conventional medical doctors and were full of synthetic, artificial or toxic ingredients. The absolute worst I ever saw was a prescription prenatal vitamin.
Remember, in a world where money is the motivating factor, absolutely nothing is safe and the only way you can be sure of getting products that will actually help build your health is to learn about quality and learn to read labels.
Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.