There are so many food supplements available to purchase, and many of them claim to have a multitude of health benefits. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get approached by someone to comment on a particular type of supplement. Since over 95% of the supplements sold anywhere have absolutely no scientific validity for their use, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff. I hope that this short article will give you a good starting point upon which to base your supplement decision. And since recent research has indicated that high doses of individual isolated vitamin supplements actually increase your risk of cancer, it’s time to start asking the right questions. Knowledge is power!
The five most important questions to ask regarding any kind of supplementation you are offered, or are recommended to use, are as follows:
- How has the supplement been produced? This is of vital importance. If it has been synthetically prepared from individual, isolated ingredients, rather than being extracted from whole plants, it will be of very limited, if any, value, and potentially be harmful, as we now know to be the case for beta carotene, vitamin E and folic acid in relation to cancer rates.
- How has the supplement been processed? If it is made from whole plants, but has been processed at high temperatures, the heat-labile factors such as all the important vitamins will have been denatured, and therefore will be of limited or no value.
- Is the supplement bioavailable? In other words, when you take it, has it been demonstrated to get into to blood stream or the organs in which it is needed? If bioavailability studies have been performed, where are they published? Have they, for example, been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal?
- Has the research been performed on this particular supplement, or has it, for example, been performed on an ingredient which is present in the supplement, and therefore it is only assumed that the supplement in question will have the same effect?
- Are there any adverse side effects known from the use of this supplement? If so, where are the results published?
If the person you are asking starts to squirm and starts looking uncomfortable, you can pretty much guarantee that their supplement has no research backing it that would give validity to its use. For example, humans are not designed to lick rocks to obtain minerals. There is far more to fruit and vegetables than just vitamin C, resveratrol and lycopene. There are more than 20,000 vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients in the plant kingdom, and we need all of them. What are you going to do – take 20,000 pills? Only use whole-food derived supplements. Period.