What’s a dietary supplement?

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) defined a dietary supplement as either a vitamin, mineral, herbals and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes that people consume by mouth to supplement a diet in the effort to improve health. They come in the form of capsules, tablet, and powder.

1. Dietary supplements do not replace healthy eating. They complement it.

2. Dietary supplements are not expensive urine. The body uses what it needs then eliminates what it doesn’t through your urine, feces, and sweat. Should we stop drinking water because we pee it out?

3. Dietary supplements do not cure disease. And it’s illegal for unscrupulous companies to advertise their product cures disease. Several companies recently “got slapped on the wrist” by the FDA for making cancer claims.

4. Dietary supplements do support your body’s innate ability to keep you healthy or bring your body back to health after a diagnosis.

5. Dietary supplements can claim to support structure or function of the body, for example, “support joint function” or “improves anti-oxidant capacity.”

6. Some botanicals like curcumin and Boswellia have excellent anti-inflammatory benefits, study suggests.

How are Botanicals in Supplements different than Pharmaceutical Drugs?

Pharmaceutical drugs are much different than herbal substances. Herbs may have hundreds of natural chemicals in them while a pharmaceutical drug has one isolated chemical known as the active ingredient to enhance its effects.

Many medical drugs come from plants. For example, aspirin comes from the plant White willow bark. When making aspirin one component of the white willow bark, salicin, is taken out and concentrated.

Any time one ingredient from a plant is removed and concentrated for therapeutic purposes two things happen:

One, the drug may have a faster therapeutic effect.

Two, there is an increased chance of unwanted side effects

Is there any Scientific Evidence to support the use of dietary supplements?

I consume about 15 dietary supplements two times a day to support my health, reduce risk of disease and keep functioning optimally.

(That’s my afternoon dose on the picture up there).

I suspect the amounts of supplement pills will increase as I get older and my nutritional demands increase.

Despite what naysayers like Paul Offit, MD say about the lack of science behind the use of dietary supplements, there is ample evidence supporting its use.

A Few Studies Supporting the Use of Dietary Supplements

One randomized French study showed a 31% decrease in cancer incidence and 37% reduced the chance of dying from any cause (in men) when consuming supplement pills that have antioxidant activity, namely, vitamin C, zinc, selenium, and beta-carotene.

Another Swedish study showed the regular use of dietary supplements, 80% of which were multi-vitamin supplements, was associated with a significant 22% reduction in risk of MI in men and a significant 33% reduction in risk of MI in women compared with nonuse after controlling for consumption of fruit, vegetables, and fiber.

In the VITamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study, which looked at over 35,000 subjects, the use of grapeseed supplements was associated with a 41% reduced risk of total prostate cancer which is the main reason grapeseed extract is found in ImmunoPCTN.

A meta-analysis of 13 prospective European and North American cohort studies reported a decrease in risk of colon cancer among Multi Vitamin (MV) supplement users compared with nonusers. MV supplement use for 15 years was associated with a 75% reduction in colon cancer risk in the prospective Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) based on questionnaires completed by 88,756 female nurses in the United States.

The Problem with Studying Dietary Supplements like Drugs

The scientific method is the approach used by the scientific community to assess if a pharmaceutical drug or a medical procedure has any effect on a particular disease. To control an experiment, you want to eliminate as many confounding factors an isolate the treatment as much as possible.

What do I mean?

If I want to know if drug A, a pill, can cure cancer, then I would set up a study where I recruit, say, one thousand people with cancer (any cancer, to keep it simple), randomly assign 500 subjects to the drug and the other 500 to an indolent pill that looks like pill A but only contains sugar ( placebo)
I would then follow both groups for as long as possible. The more subjects to study and the longer the study, the more valuable the data and the more clinical relevance it may have.

Of course, to run such a study, especially with something un-patentable is expensive.

That’s why studies like this are rare and should be executed with excellent methodology (the exact opposite of SELECT).

So, when scientists study nutrients in isolation, e.g., dl-alpha-tocopherol (not the natural form with other important components), selenomethionine (without other key forms of selenium), beta-carotene (excluding other carotenoids) – then, of course, the outcome is never good. These are high doses of a single chemical that usually comes in a complex package.

In other words, super concentrated nutrients without the synergism of other key components are similar to pharmaceutical drugs and carry the same risk. But physicians who are nutritionally oriented know that – and have known that for a long time.

And, only integrative, functional, and naturopathic doctors are the experts in the responsible use of nutritional supplements.

Manufacturing facilities of Dietary Supplements also matter

Top notch dietary supplement manufacturers self-police and go beyond the GMP by seeking 3rd party auditing of their facilities. NSF along with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) came up with a national standard for the manufacturing of dietary supplements, which goes to the next step after the GMP’s and sets some specifications for levels of contaminants such as micro and heavy metals contamination undertake voluntary certification and quality control.

Supplements from XY Wellness or from sources prescribed by naturopathic or functional medicine physicians work professional-grade manufacturing companies.

The Doggy Bag on Dietary Supplements

Nutritional supplements made from vitamins, mineral, and botanicals are effective to reduce the risk of disease, slow aging and enhance performance, only if it’s the right combination, in as much of its natural state as possible (no isolated ingredients)and from excellent manufacturing facilities. Lastly, supplements complement a superior dietary and exercise regimen. They don’t replace it.