Vitamin companies play it up. They tell you that you need their product, whether for weight loss or general health, and most of the time, it’s a crock. There is something to be said about different body types. Nobody is going to react quite the same way, even to the exact same things. However, that does not mean that you should give them all a try. There are studies, especially when it comes to things like weight loss, and there are plenty of weight loss ingredients, both natural and prescription, that are hardly healthy or effective. Here are a few things you might not know about vitamin companies though.
- Choices, Choices, Choices – Vitamin companies obviously sell a lot of products. What you might not know is that part of the idea is to overwhelm you with choices. They want to make you think you need everything in separate supplements. There are already 54,000 diet supplements and over 1000 brands. According to the FDA, a dietary supplement is
an ingestible product containing a dietary ingredient.Talk about vague. Frankly, the research can be overwhelming, and not all information available online is actually dependable or honest. There are some companies who, while these supplements are not FDA approved, claim to be approved by the
USP (United States Pharmacopeia). This sounds nice, and the USP does have certain standards. However, they have no way to regulate companies practices. They lay out rules, but they do not officially endorse any company as they do not actually tour their factories, do regular checkups, etc.
- No FDA Approval – Personally, I’m conflicted about this one. On one hand, there are a lot of “natural supplements” that are not regulated by the FDA, and some have been proven dangerous. Some have even hidden prescriptions in their “natural” formulas. However, being FDA approved does not guarantee safety. Alli is technically FDA approved, and yet it has been associated with liver damage, severe diarrhea, vitamin deficiencies, and ironically virtually no weight loss. There’s a reason why they’ve had to change their claims so many time. Likewise, prescriptions like Phentermine as well as antidepressants like Zoloft can have serious side effects even including death. So either way, realistically, you’re not getting any guarantees. The fact is that some of the studies that “prove” that certain prescriptions work are a little sketchy. Yes, it’s nice to think that there is an agency watching over the manufacturing, tests, etc. It just doesn’t mean as much to me.
- The label doesn’t mean as much as you think – Yes, natural supplements do have to list ingredients. However, they often have a lot of preservatives and other inactive ingredients that are listed under vague and non-specific names. Likewise, many use “proprietary blends”, meaning you don’t get doses of any one ingredient, and a lot of it may actually be fillers. The fact is that even when amounts are listed, things like Chondroitin and glucosamine are questionable at best, and many studies have shown little to no results. Most supplements don’t even use the amounts that have been tested, but the label won’t necessarily tell you that.
- The actual health benefits are questionable – There are some impressive studies out there that show natural ingredients do this, that, and the other thing. For example, some studies show shark cartilage can fight arthritis. Other studies show that it does absolutely nothing. Even if you do see consistent studies, the numbers are often less significant than the companies advertise. For example, CLA could be heart healthy and promote more fat burning. However, according to even the most positive studies (which are equal to the negative studies), the weight loss is negligible, and it is only one part of improving heart health.
The FDA supposedly requires companies to make reasonable claims and provide
competent and reliable scientific evidence.Again though, these are not FDA approved, and there is nothing to stop them from not doing that.
- Pills don’t replace a healthy diet and exercise plan – Yes, we like the idea that we can lose weight or stay healthy while eating all sorts of junk food, but it’s not going to happen. If you want to be healthy, get the right vitamins, maintain a good weight, etc, you actually have to live healthy. You have to eat the right foods, and there is no dietary supplement that can replace that. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with taking an extra vitamin to just make sure you have a little extra help, especially if you’re pregnant. Just don’t use this as a substitute.
- Warnings and disclaimers are hidden – Yes, many companies put that in small print for a reason. If you don’t notice them or don’t read them, they are more likely to make more sales. Most disclaimers say something about not treating disease, not being FDA approved, etc. However, some can be a bit harsher. If you have allergies especially or a medical condition though, you’re going to want to take a look and take the time to read up on your supplement.
safe– Natural can be safe. There are plenty of perfectly safe natural products. However, there are also natural supplements that are not safe, and some can be flat out dangerous. In the weight loss industry especially, a number of different “natural” ingredients have popped up, and at one time, people called anabolic steroids “all-natural”. It turns out all of those things were far from safe.
- Some have government support – Do you know why certain dangerous supplements remained on the market for so long? Orrin Hatch and certain other mostly Utah senators went to bat. They protected supplement companies and kept certain dangerous ingredients on the market, even when they knew they might be dangerous. They prevented bans and recalls, all because they like the money. Supplements bring in billions every year, and if they can get a piece of the pie, why not.
- There may be prescriptions – The latest controversy was associated with a number of Chinese supplements. This is not the first time though. It has happened before with all sorts of “natural supplements” using prescriptions and other illegal supplements. Ironically, most are weight loss supplements, and yet most of the prescriptions used have nothing to do with weight loss. The big one for many companies is actually anti-anxiety drugs. In most cases, the contamination is 100% intentional, all meant to help them to make more money.
- Tell your doctor – Even if it’s something as simple as a multivitamin, your doctor needs to know what you’re taking. There are a ton of possible drug interactions that you may not know about. Your doctor on the other hand does. So before he prescribes you anything, or maybe even before you start taking a natural supplement, check with your doctor for any possible drug interactions.
If you are diabetic or have a heart problem, I think it would be safe to say that you may want to avoid unnecessary supplements or non-prescription products all together. Especially with diabetes, your body is reacting differently, and the results of an otherwise innocuous supplement could be deadly or debilitating.