Are supplements really necessary?

Supplements & Nutrition

Dietary supplements are necessary for most people for several reasons. First, the typical American does not eat nutritious food; much “food” eaten is high-carbohydrate, high saturated-fat, fast food, like hamburgers, fries and chips, deep-fried anything, or equally unhealthy processed or packaged food. A label on a food stating “diet,” “low-fat,” or “low-carb” does not mean it’s healthy. Most such foods are laden with trans-fats, saturated fats, sodium, sugar, or other nutritionally empty ingredients. Even those touting 100% of daily vitamins are often not particularly nutritious. The 100% of daily vitamins they refer to is the government’s RDA–recommended daily allowance–the amount you need to avoid vitamin deficiency symptoms. The vitamins usually are not naturally present in the food product and are added during processing. No representation is made of the purity, potency, or quality of the added vitamins, for good reason. Ask yourself to remember the last time you went out to eat and got a meal low in sugar and carbohydrates and blessed with an abundance of fresh vegetables and lean protein. How many times does your evening meal come out of a container, ready to heat?

Second, if you want to get your nutrients from your diet, eat only fresh-from-the-farm, organic foods. Commercial food production is big business now, and corporate earnings drive all decisions regarding how our food is planted, grown, harvested, processed, transported, and distributed. Nutrition is of minor interest to food producers who answer to profit-seeking stockholders. Modern food production methods play a key role in depriving our bodies of important nutrients. The fairly recent introduction of inorganic fertilizers decreases the nutritional value of plant life and weakens the plants’ immune systems by depriving them of the nutrients they need to remain strong. The result is food that is susceptible to destruction by insects and crops that may not be able to survive without being sprayed with cancer-causing and soil-depleting pesticides. Genetic engineering is used to produce crops that are fast-growing, resistant to disease and insects, visually attractive, and high-yield with little regard for the nutrient deficiency. Over-farming, acid rain, and other factors cause shortages of several essential elements in soil. Iodine-deficient soils lead to goiter in humans, zinc-deficient soils lead to stunted growth and poor immune function, and most important, selenium-deficient soils lead to premature aging, cancer, and heart disease.

Third, while the nutritional value of our foods has declined, toxins in our environment have become much more abundant. While our body’s defenses against these toxins require higher levels of anti-oxidants and immunity boosters from food, instead, foods have less. The only option is to take in the missing nutrients from supplements.

Finally, because of the nature of modern food production and the alliance of federal regulatory agencies with both the food and drug industries, the information we get about nutrition in our food is inadequate, and in some cases, inaccurate. Recent legislation has sought to clarify and improve nutrition information, but much work remains. While the FDA refuses to evaluate supplements or permit supplements to carry benefit statements, the food industry remains largely unregulated in its use of the words “healthy”, “diet”, “natural,” and other descriptions that invite the consumer to believe health benefits are conveyed by nutritionally deficient foods.

To understand why the FDA sometimes acts against the interest of the consumer, consider its dual role. The FDA and other government agencies are charged with both protecting and promoting the food and drug industries AND protecting the consumer. What is wrong with this picture? Because many government employees later are hired for lucrative jobs in the industries they promote while in federal employment, the temptation to side with industry is strong. Add to this the fact that the FDA has a limited budget to spend on research, whether for the consumer or the promotion of the industries. Heavy lobbying often determines where the money goes.

It is widely known that the FDA gets the information it provides to consumers from those very industries. Who pays for and runs the clinical tests of prescription drugs? Not the government. Who generates the data included on the nutritional labels on food? The industry!

Sadly, not only is nutritional information on food unreliable, the same can be said of inexpensive, mass-marketed supplements. Why doesn’t the FDA evaluate supplements? They claim they are not allowed to do so. Rubbish. The FDA has the power to regulate the manufacturing, labeling, and safety of dietary supplements. It has the authority to approve “nutrient content claims” for supplements. It requires the approval of “health claims.” The FDA establishes good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and inspects manufacturing plants to ensure they follow regulations. FDA notification is required concerning the safety of new ingredients and the FDA has the authority to disapprove. It has the legal authority to take immediate enforcement action against a dietary supplement that is adulterated (unsafe). The FDA regulates the advertising of dietary supplements. Read all about the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

Virtually every benefit claim on any supplement is accompanied by the words, “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” FDA evaluation and approval of dietary supplements would have two results. First, poor quality supplements would be identified and would soon disappear from the market, leaving only effective, high quality dietary supplements. Second, the prescription drug industry would lose billions of dollars if consumers could rely on natural, inexpensive, effective, and far safer dietary supplements rather than on expensive presciption drugs.

Here at Best Health Secrets, we have reviewed dozens of lines of dietary supplements, and our conclusion is that very few brands manufacture and distribute high quality dietary supplements and provide value. Over the last 15 years, we have been pleased to offer Xtend-Life natural dietary supplements. These premium supplements are more than just vitamins; they are a range of products, each targeted to address a particular aspect of your overall health.