Optimize Your Supplements

Optimize Your Supplements

Posted by DS DC on Oct 26th 2022

Optimize Your Supplements

You may have read some articles about supplements leading to early death at a statistically significant rate. This includes vitamin A, vitamin E and beta carotene.

Know What is Really Dangerous

I have some initial comments with more to come as I further evaluate the studies.

The first is that even if this were true, supplements as a cause of early death are not even in the same league as the swath of destruction caused by pharmaceuticals even if properly prescribed. Some researchers estimate that about 750,000 people die from these drug reactions every year in the United States. To put that into perspective, that’s more than 250 911-type attacks on a yearly basis. As a culture we don’t make such a fuss because each of these people dies alone in a hospital bed or at home instead of all at once like a dramatic terrorist event. So when you begin to evaluate danger it is important to keep some perspective.

Routine Blood Tests Are Impertive

The second issue is that we have always recommended periodic testing to help determine actual supplement needs. Some have rightly pointed out that iron supplementation in the elderly can lead to problems. Iron is easily tested in a routine blood panel. We often recommend iron and copper free multi-vitamin for just that reason. If you are taking a handful of supplements and do not have a relatively recent blood test to see which systems are stressed, you are probably taking some you don’t need and some might potentially be harmful. One nationally advertised brand that starts with a “C” adds a fair amount of iron. It sounds impressive to have all that iron but iron is toxic in higher than ideal amounts.

Shop Value Not Price

The third issue is that people tend to shop vitamins by price. Shopping by price works if you are comparing identical computer monitors at different stores in town but applying that logic to supplements is fraught with pitfalls. It should seem obvious that a bottle of fish oil at a big box store for $10.99 and a bottle from a specialty company that costs $39.99 are not going to be the same thing. You won’t be able spot the difference in production quality by looking at the label. It costs more to make a quality product for basic reasons such as higher cost of better raw materials, extra cost in non-toxic processing of these raw materials, costs of independent testing and even product handling.

Recognize Synthetic Vitamin E

Also synthetically derived “vitamins” are cheaper to produce than extractions of the natural products. A good example is vitamin E. Vitamin E (d tocopherol) is found in several types of plants but it takes effort to extract this vitamin and keep it in a useable form. It is a lot easier to manufacture synthetic E (d,l tocopheral) so is cheaper. To make things worse, some researchers assume that the natural and synthetic forms are the same so use the synthetic for their studies of vitamin E. When they encounter health issues they incorrectly report these problems as vitamin E problems when it is just an issue with the petrochemically-derived bastardization of vitamin E.


High Quality Supplements Pay Off Over Time

Bottom line? Have a routine blood test at least every year or two even if you are not having any specific symptoms, have it read by a doctor who understands the subtleties of these tests, use the supplements you need and then only the highest quality of products you can find. Want to save money? This approach will be cheaper in the long run.

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