How Wasteful Are Supplements?

What? A nutrition doctor claims health supplements are wasteful? Absolutely. And there's plenty of evidence to prove that the majority are virtually worthless!

Then why, you might ask, do I recommend them so often? That's a great question. It's because a small percentage of them are actually extremely good for your health and that's what this article is about.

Let's face it: Americans are phenomenal at producing waste. From wasting time to increasing our waistlines, we waste money on products we don't need, don't work and won't even use.

People often ask me about whether they should take supplements from sources I'm not familiar with. The only reasonable answer I can give is, "I don't know." As a doctor who utilizes nutrition as a primary intervention, no matter how much time I put into increasing my education, it's literally impossible to stay current on the hundreds, if not thousands, of product lines in health and grocery stores, and don't get me started on everything that's sold over Al Gore's invention, aka the internet.

Supplements are comprised of so much more than what is listed on the label. As food products, they're not regulated by the FDA, which is good for allowing consumer choice, but can also add to public confusion. And unfortunately, the lack of oversight often leads to unscrupulous and misleading marketing practices. Of course, it's not like the pharmaceutical companies embody buddhas and angels in their advertisements either, but if we've learned one thing from studying how organic foods are marketed, just because a tomato is grown without pesticides and non-GMO, that doesn't mean that the soil was sufficient to supply the nutrients we need to support our health. It's not just what's included on the label, it's equally if not more important what's not said. Many food products, whether grown conventionally or organically, are nutrient deficient, lacking the amount of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that were commonplace less than one century ago. Fertilizers and genetic modification have allowed plants to grow in soils that are deficient in the proper nutrients, microorganisms, organic materials, and biodiversity to support the production of nutrient dense produce. Furthermore, according to many eastern medicine practices, the plants grown in these conditions lack healthy chi, or life force. In my view, the importance of living chi in the food is highly underrated, and is at least as important as the types of foods chosen, but that's an article for another time. For now, the takeaway is this: these non-sustainable practices apply to the way the majority of supplements are produced as well.

To be ethical, I don't ever recommend brands I haven't researched thoroughly. If I use a brand, it's because I know it works. I've looked into everything from how the product is processed, the quality of the ingredients, their nutrition balance and their bioavailability. A doctor utilizing prescriptive medication would be absolutely remiss to simply prescribe a drug without knowing how it was manufactured or produced (of course they would never do that, would they...?) so why should a natural doctor hold himself to a less accountable standard?

Supplements can be expensive. Although investing in the right supplements can save a lot of money and improve your quality of life, choosing the wrong supplements can turn into a complete waste of time, effort and money. The US supplement industry, including protein powder, is just as big as the organic food industry, roughly $21 billion annually. As of 2018, nearly one in five Americans take herbal supplements and nearly 51% take vitamins. Of the vitamins and supplements taken, studies have shown that over 80% are either poorly processed, have low bioavailability, or simply weren't grown properly. To make matters more complicated, a person's genetics, diet, lifestyle, nutrition timing, sleep patterns and state of health all affect the effectiveness of the supplement. This presents a big problem for healthcare workers who utilize nutrition with their patients. Furthermore, people often ask, "Can't I just get this at Whole Foods?" or "Can I pick it up at GNC?" Again, my answer is a resounding, "I don't know." The constant fluctuation of products into and out of mega-chains, health stores, and everywhere else literally makes it impossible for anyone to research them all. Simply recommending a multivitamin, anti-inflammatories, digestive enzymes or probiotics, or any other number of supplements in this unregulated industry isn't enough. Without solid data on each product, approving use of a random product is like throwing a dart in the dark and hoping to hit a bullseye.

So if you want to work with me, I've extensively studied numerous top quality lines and recommend only products I'm confident with. I've made them very affordable to save you the time and effort of researching for yourself and also allowing you to invest in your health to achieve an organic, fruitful, nutritionally dense, and bioavailable outcome.

 

In good health,

-Dr. K

 

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