Sunday, August 9, 2009

Synthetic VS Whole Food Supplements

Are “natural” supplements and minerals superior to “synthetic” supplements? We have been lead to believe that natural is always better and that natural compounds work better with our bodies. But let’s examine this concept further to see what we can uncover.

Firstly, extracting pure vitamins and minerals from plants involves significant chemical processing. Secondly, the biological activity of a compound is determined not by its source, but by its chemical structure. In other words, it makes no difference to the body whether the chemical comes from a plant source or from a test tube – the body cannot and does not differentiate – it is the same compound regardless.

Some vitamin and antioxidant compounds can be efficiently synthesized in factories to produce products that are identical in chemical form to those found in nature and that are pure and fully safe. In addition, some synthetic vitamins, such as folic acid are actually better absorbed than the natural variety.

The very reason we have a supplement industry is due to large published studies in medical literature that provides us with knowledge and insight into nutritional elements. Now let’s look at a practical example. There have been hundreds of studies on calcium and vitamin D and bone health. It is hardly in dispute that these nutrients can prevent bone loss. If these traditional forms were not good because they weren't "whole", where did we get all these positive results? If "whole food" supplements are so much better, why are they rarely, if ever, used in any legitimate studies?

If you want the full benefits from the whole food, eat the whole food. "Whole food" supplements are not whole foods. They do not contain water, fiber, calories, and other macronutrients and are highly processed.

What is important is that all the raw ingredients used in supplements are selected for their effectiveness, purity and safety. Your supplements should contain whichever compound – “natural” or “synthetic” that is best absorbed and utilized by the body. Supplements, no matter what their source are just that – supplements. They are not meant to replace but to add to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, good carbohydrates and proteins.

As is always the case, you need to do your own research and not be lead by the hype. Watch out for “whole food supplement” and “natural supplement” claims. Make your supplement choice based on the facts. Knowledge, after all, is power.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Get the Lead Out! Could there be lead in your calcium Supplement?

People who take high doses of natural source calcium could be placing themselves at high risk for cumulative lead toxicity according to research conducted by the University of Arizona. While calcium itself has virtually no toxicity, there is evidence that natural source calcium supplements – those made from bone meal, oyster shell and dolomite may contain heavy metals, including lead. A study conducted by Trent University in Canada where some 70 brands of calcium supplements were tested, found that 25% of the brands exceeded the FDA limit for lead toxicity.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set an upper limit for the amount of lead in a calcium supplement (7.5 micrograms per 1000 milligrams of calcium), calcium supplements are not tested by any regulatory agency for lead content. This is a concern given recent increases in doctor recommendations for calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis and for those, particularly children, who rely on calcium supplementation as their main source of calcium.
Since it is not feasible for consumers to test supplements for lead contamination, there is generally rampant disregard for the standardization of manufacturing practices and quality control measures. The result is that inferior and unsafe products make their way into the market.

As stated in the
Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements by Lyle Mac William MSC, FP, “there are no current US regulations that enforce minimum standards of practice, no requirements for pre-market approval, no post-market surveillance, and no site licensing or product licensing required for the manufacturing of dietary supplement is the United States.”
So what guidelines should we use when choosing a calcium supplement or any supplement for that matter?

1. Find a company that owns their own manufacturing facility. Many supplement companies outsource this very important step which often means that they have to sacrifice on quality control.

2. Find a company that manufactures its supplements according to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice). These standards require that manufacturers take proactive steps to ensure that products are safe, pure and effective.

3. Find one of the few companies that manufacturer their supplements using Pharmaceutical Grade standards. The secret to Pharmaceutical Grade supplements is that they are formulated to exact measurements – just like a prescription that you get from the pharmacy. They yield a higher degree of bioavailability which means that your body can absorb them easily. This also guarantees that what is on the label is in the bottle. This in turn can make a huge difference in how supplements improve your health and your quality of life and overall well being.

Oh, and be on the lookout for the term “Medical Grade supplements” – this is a new term being touted by some in the industry. This is a “made up” category which serves to further confuse the already overwhelmed consumer into thinking that they are purchasing a supplement that is approved by the medical community. Don’t fall for the hype! There are only three categories of supplements:• Animal Grade• Food Grade• Pharmaceutical GradeThere are no other grades and 99% of the supplements on the market today are made to Food Grade standards. Without getting too technical, pizza, for example is made to Food Grade standards. One pizza may have 20 slices of pepperoni and another may have 10 slices, yet they are both acceptable as pizzas. This standard is ok for a pizza, but not for a supplement that you are trusting to improve your overall wellbeing or to ward off chronic disease.

So before you plunk down your money for a calcium or any supplement, do some research, wade through the masses of information and misinformation and choose a supplement that is safe, pure and effective. Knowledge after all is power.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

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Thanks for clicking over from Twitter.

Working with just 140 characters can sometimes be challenging so I created this page for us to get better acquainted. Please venture into my blog posts - my goal is to be your resource when it comes to all things related to health and wellness.

My Work

I am an entrepreneur in the Health and Wellness Field. In addition to being an avid fan of Dr. Christiane Northrup, I am also a member of Team Northrup - a group of entrepreneurial women and men who are philosophically aligned with the work of Dr. Northrup, one of the country's most respected authorities on women's health, and author of the New York Times best-selling books Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, The Wisdom of Menopause, and Mother-Daughter Wisdom.

"Team Northrup is a specific, practical business and personal growth opportunity for individuals who believe in the power of the mind/body/spirit connection, who are highly motivated, who want to attract more prosperity in their lives, and who seek an exciting new path of discovery." Christiane Northrup, M.D.