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The Supplement Crazed Nation

Updated on May 30, 2016

Money and pills


Are you eating a healthy diet?

According to the American Dietetics Society, 43 percent of us think we are already eating well. At the same time, in 2010, the US nutrition and dietary supplements market reached USD 28.4 billion compared to USD 25.00 billion during 2009. So we are each spending $94.00 a year on supplements. One of you must be doubling up because I stopped buying that stuff and started growing my own veggies. According to a survey by the AARP, 59 percent of people 50 and older had used supplements in the previous month, and 52 percent took them daily. Fewer than half said they talked to their doctors about the pills they took.

I’m not a Nutritionist, or a Dietician or a doctor, I have a little experience working with Dieticians in a hospital setting but my conclusions are based on research and personal experience. One lesson I took away from working with dieticians is that it is very difficult to convince anyone to eat a healthy diet.

I’ll even save you a lot of reading right now and give you my conclusion. There is no supplement or vitamin for sale anywhere that will take the place of a healthy diet. Furthermore, anyone that has the time and place should consider growing their own vegetables, you can avoid toxins while getting exercise and vitamin D from the sunshine

From Reuters, Oct 2011, "In fact, they (people taking vitamins) appear to have slightly higher death rates, researchers found."There is very little evidence showing that common dietary supplements would be beneficial in prevention of major chronic diseases," said Dr. Jaakko Mursu of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, who worked on the new study.

"Unless you are deficient, there is hardly any reason to take them," he told Reuters Health."


What is a supplement?

According to the

1994 Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act (DSHEA)

definition, a supplement is:

•A product other than tobacco

•Intended to supplement the diet

•That contains one or more dietary ingredients

•Intended to be taken by mouth

•Labeled as being a dietary supplement

Dietary Ingredients Definition –DSHEA:

•(a) a vitamin; (b) a mineral; (c) an herb or other botanical; (d) an amino acid;

•(e) a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake; OR

•(f) a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of any ingredient described in clause (a), (b), (c), (d), or (e).”

Which supplements or vitamins should we be taking? First ask yourself why do I want to take a supplement? Have you been told by a doctor that you are deficient in a certain mineral or vitamin? Are you diagnosing yourself? If you self diagnose, have you done the deep research needed to find the benefits and perils of the product you want to consume? If you are like most of us, you are probably responding to misleading advertising as a guide to choosing vitamins and supplements. The internet is the primary source for almost all of the false advertising and spurious information about the vast horde of supplements available in the market today. Of course they couldn’t put anything on the internet if it were not true, could they? If you have bought a ridge in Brooklyn or are waiting for a Nigerian to send you your millions it may be too late for you.

Roberta H Anding of Baylor College of Medicine in Texas says; “Unless you had a degree in Biochemistry, sometimes the advertising was so sophisticated that it was very difficult” (to analyze the ad for truthfulness)

The Food and Drug Administration provides these “red flags” of health fraud:

“These claims are often used in scams!

Miraculous Cure

Quick Fix

Ancient Remedy

New Discovery

Scientific Breakthrough

Secret Ingredient

Natural Cure

Shrinks Tumors

Lowers Blood Sugar

Quick and Painless Cure

No-Risk Money Back Guarantee”

Once again, there’s one of those evil government agencies trying to tell us what to do and how to live our lives. Well, lucky us, the FDA do not regulate herbs and supplements the way they do drugs. In fact manufacturers have no obligation to prove that their supplements are effective and they don’t have to get approval before putting supplements on the market. They don’t even have to prove that their products are not harmful, the FDA steps in only when troubles arise. That may be seen as a victory for Libertarians but the rest of us are left without vital information. That is information that could kill you.

Farm produce

Natural vitamins
Natural vitamins | Source

Where should we turn for expert advice?

The internet is a wild and wooly place filled with "expert" testimonials and "trustworthy" information that anyone with a computer can present. You might turn to a doctor or a nutritionist or a dietician for information about what to eat but millions are turning to the internet experts like Adam Greenberg. Adam is a minor league ballplayer who was called up to the Chicago Cubs as a rookie center fielder. On his first time at bat in 2005 got hit in the head with a 92 mph fast ball. Back to the minors, Adam was working his way up to the major leagues again when another injury pushed him to the sidelines. He started taking Lurong (ground up deer antlers with velvet) and is now selling and promoting Lurong at Lurong is another miracle product with a 2000 year history in Asian medicine. It does everything for those who buy it. Buy Now! It will fix your bones and joints, boost your energy, improve your strength and endurance and even make you young and horny again! If you have doubts, Lurong living has three doctors promoting the benefits and a plethora of testimonials from athletes, police, state troopers, weight lifters and yoga instructors.

Such is the state of supplement information in America today, if you get stopped for speeding you might ask the trooper for nutritional advice, or go to the gym and ask a weight lifter, or. . .

Colloidal silver side effects

The truth about supplements

All Natural is good right? Well really, pretty much everything is natural isn't it? "Natural" hasn't been defined by the government the way Organic has been. Death Cap mushrooms could be said to be all natural, or poison ivy or nightshade. In nature, the "active ingredient" of any plant will vary from one plant to another depending on where it grew; without regulations anything goes. Independent tests have found many supplements are contaminated with potentially harmful ingredients such as heavy metals, pesticides, and bacteria; a few have even been found to contain prescription drugs. Currently there are no regulations that supplement makers follow so-called "good manufacturing practices." The purity, potency, and identity of a supplement can and sometimes does vary from product to product, and you may not know if other ingredients have been added.

Which supplements are safe and reliable? The supplements which have been studied the most are the big name multivitamins. Things like One a Day and Centrum are the most likely to be safe. As for reliable, what reason do you have for shelling out good money for a pill? Do you have Scurvy? Then by all means you need some vitamin C right now! As for all the other conditions that vitamin C is supposed to treat, cure or prevent, well, the research is inconclusive and evidence is lacking. The one aspect that has been shown true is that getting your vitamins from a healthy diet is better than any pill.

Have you considered your daily menu? If you want vitamins to take the place of missing vital nutrients in diet that is lacking, eat healthier foods. Calcium is lacking in many diets and is often supplemented. Recommendations are for young people to get their calcium from diet while older people and girls 9 to 18 years old may need supplements. Vitamin D is another nutrient that is lacking in many diets and requires supplements but Very high levels of vitamin D (above 10,000 IU a day) may cause kidney and tissue damage. A simple blood test provided by your doctor could give you the information you need to make an informed decision.


12 Dangerous Dietary Supplements Named by Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports in 2004 and again in 2010 listed 12 dietary supplements that are too dangerous to be on the market according to government warnings, adverse-event reports, and top experts. These "dirty dozen" unsafe supplements, included: (I have combined the lists from '04 and '10 to track progress, Some items on the 2004, list were not on the 2010, list and are not included below.

Aconite (aconiti tuber, aconitum, radix aconiti) Taken for Inflammation, joint pain, wounds, gout. Causes nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, respiratory-system paralysis, heart-rhythm disorders.Leading cause of herbal poisonings in Hong Kong
(2012, Still available as capsules on Amazon 100% Organic)

Androstenedione(4-androstene-3, 17-dione, andro, androstene)
(2012, Still available, very expensive, used to enhance testosterone levels)

Aristolochic acid(Aristolochia, birthwort, snakeroot, snakeweed, sangree root, sangrel, serpentary, serpentaria;asarum canadense, wild ginger) a powerful nephrotoxin and human carcinogen associatedwith chronic kidney disease (CKD) and upper urinary tract urothelial carcinomas. Used to lose weight.
(2012, Now Banned in the US but still used in Asia, may be available on the internet in Chinese herbal products)

Bitter orange(Citrus aurantium, green orange, kijitsu, neroli oil, Seville orange, shangzhou zhiqiao, sour orange, zhi oiao, zhi xhi) Its ingredients have effects similar to the banned weight-loss supplement ephedra.
(2012, Still available as capsules on Amazon 100% Organic)

Chaparral(Larrea divaricata, creosote bush, greasewood, hediondilla, jarilla, larreastat) Taken for Colds, weight loss, infections, inflammation, cancer, detoxification. Causes Liver damage, kidney problems.
(2012, Available as tea, labeled USDA Organic and Vegan and RAW)

Colloidal Silver (ionic silver, native silver, Silver in suspending agent) Used to treat Fungal and other infections, Lyme disease, rosacea, psoriasis, food poisoning, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV/AIDS. Causes Bluish skin, mucous membrane discoloration, neurological problems, kidney damage.Likely unsafe. The FDA advised consumers about the risk of discoloration on Oct. 6, 2009. (2012, Still available on Amazon)

Coltsfoot (coughwort, farfarae folium leaf, foalswort) Used in Chinese herbal medicine for the treatment of respiratory diseases, including cough, asthma, and acute and chronic bronchitis Causes Liver damage, cancer. . (2012, Still available on Amazon as leaf and powder)

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale, ass ear, black root, blackwort, bruisewort, consolidae radix, consound, gum plant, healing herb, knitback, knitbone, salsify, slippery root, symphytum radix, wallwort) Comfrey has been used as an antibacterial and antifungal to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Causes liver damage and cancer, the FDA advised manufacturers in 2001 to remove Comfrey from the market. (2012, Still Available on Amazon as tea, "certified Organic")

Country Mallow (heartleaf, Sida cordifolia, silky white mallow) Used to treat nasal congestion, allergies, asthma, weight loss, bronchitis. Causes heart attack, heart arrhythmia, stroke, death.
(2012, Still available on Amazon as powder, lotion and seeds)

Germander(Teucrium chamaedrys, wall germander, wild germander) for treating gallbladder conditions, fever, stomachaches, and mild diarrhea; as a digestive aid, germ-killer, and “rinse for gout;” and to help with weight loss. Limited evidence that it causes liver disease and death. Banned in other countries.
(2012, Still available as tea online and especially as seeds to grow your own)

Germanium (Ge, Ge-132, germanium-132) Used for pain, infections, glaucoma, liver problems, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, cancer. Likely Unsafe, causes Kidney damage, death.
(2012 Still available online as capsules and powder)

Kava (Piper methysticum, ava, awa, gea, gi, intoxicating pepper, kao, kavain, kawa-pfeffer, kew, long pepper, malohu, maluk, meruk, milik, rauschpfeffer, sakau, tonga, wurzelstock, yagona, yangona) Research has shown that kava's relieves anxiety, restlessness, sleeplessness, and stress-related symptoms such as muscle tension or spasm. Also used for pain. Possibly unsafe. Kava may have severe side effects and should not be used by everyone. Kava has caused liver failure in previously healthy people. You should not use kava for longer than 3 months without consulting your doctor.
(2012, Still available as capsules on Amazon 100% Organic)

Lobelia(Lobelia inflata, asthma weed, bladderpod, emetic herb, gagroot, lobelie, indian tobacco, pukeweed, vomit wort, wild tobacco) Taken for Coughing, bronchitis, asthma, smoking cessation (possibly ineffective) Overdose can cause fast heartbeat, very low blood pressure, coma, possibly death.
(2012, Still available as capsules on Amazon 100% Organic)

Pennyroyaloil (Hedeoma pulegioides, lurk-in-the-ditch, mosquito plant, piliolerial, pudding grass, pulegium, run-by-the-ground, squaw balm, squawmint, stinking balm, tickweed) Used for colds, pneumonia, and other breathing problems. It is also used for stomach pains, gas, intestinal disorders, and liver and gallbladder problems. Overdose can cause fast heartbeat, very low blood pressure, coma, possibly death.
(2012, Still available on Amazon 100% Organic)

Yohimbe: A sexual stimulant, aphrodisiac, chest pain, diabetic complications, depression; erectile dysfunction (possibly effective). Can cause high blood pressure, rapid heart rate; high doses can cause severe low blood pressure, heart problems, death


What about drug interactions

? Some supplements, even very common ones can interact with prescription drugs

Aloe Vera (taken for weight loss, digestion, immune function, and even ‘easing general discomfort’)When taken internally, aloe vera may interact with medicine used to treat diabetes. Also there is clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in rats, based on tumors of the large intestine.’

Coltsfoot taken in large amounts might interfere with treatment for heart disease and high blood pressure. Don’t use coltsfoot if you have these conditions.

Grapefruit Juice, Many of us drink grapefruit juice but are we aware of the interactions with medicine? From WebMD:
"These are medications with which grapefruit juice should NOT be consumed unless advised by a doctor:

  • Statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs): lovastatin (Mevacor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor, Vytorin)
  • Antihistamines: Ebastine
  • Calcium channel blockers (blood pressure drugs): felodipine (Nitrendipine, Plendil), nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia)
  • Psychiatric drugs: buspirone (Buspar), triazolam (Halcion), carbamazepine (Tegretol), diazepam (Valium), midazolam (Versed), sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Immune suppressants: cyclosporine (Neoral), (tacrolimus) Prograf
  • Pain medications: Methadone
  • Impotence drug (erectile dysfunction): sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Ant-HIV medication: saquinavir (Invirase)
  • Antiarrhythmics: amiodarone (Cordarone)"

Saint John’s wort, (taken to improve mood,) can speed the breakdown of some prescription medicines by eliminating them from the body before they can take full effect, speeds the breakdown of certain cancer chemotherapies.

Vitamin E (Taken to prevent prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and make you live longer.) A 2001 study of 35 thousand middle aged men taking 400 IU of vitamin daily showed a 17 percent increase of prostate cancer. Vitamin E interferes with the blood thinner Coumadin.

Supplements taken with Coumadin. Supplements that can dangerously interact with the blood thinner Coumadin include:
St. John's Wort, coenzyme Q10, dong quai, feverfew, garlic, vitamin E.

Be sure to tell your doctor about the vitamins and supplements you take, especially if you are taking Coumadin.

There certainly are issues with the pharmaceutical industry and the safety of the medicines they produce. However they are regulated and have a responsibility both fiscally and legally to provide safe products. Their products are taken under medical supervision after intensive investigation for efficacy and safety. Herbs and supplements have far fewer controls and much less investigation into efficacy, safety or side effects. There seems to be an endless number of herbs, minerals and supplements available with the primary goal of separating us from our hard earned dollars. Consumer Reports offers this page of supplements to avoid and supplements to consider. Scroll down to find the supplements to consider.

The number of herbs and supplements is seemingly endless and beyond the scope of this Hub. If you insist on getting your nutrients out of a jar do yourself a favor and research the effects and side effects, the real goal of supplements is to reduce the size of your bank account.


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    • greatstuff profile image


      5 years ago from Malaysia

      Woww, that's amazing. I must follow your food step and hopefully will also reduce my expenses

    • chefsref profile imageAUTHOR

      Lee Raynor 

      5 years ago from Citra Florida

      Hey Greatstuff

      Thanx for reading and commenting.

      Yeah, I too had a shelf full of supplements but the news kept coming out saying that I had a shelf full of B.S.

      I kept finding out that what I was taking was either harmful or useless and costly. Now I grow my supplements in the form of fresh veggies in my garden and put my money in the garden, I've lost weight, lowered blood pressure and blood sugar


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