What's Really In Your Supplements <PT 2: Catfish>
PART 2: CATFISH CATASTROPHE
(aka brand integrity)
Remember how I said in part I that -- sometimes, things that are listed on the bottle aren't the same as what's INSIDE the bottle? Yeah, I know I know, pretty f*ckd up right?!
So here's some more specific examples of this:
2013 BMC Medicine journal study: 44 bottles of herbal supps from 12 different companies were tested — 1/3 of the supplements didn’t contain the supplement advertised (ex: a bottle of St. John’s wort didn’t actually have any St. John’s wort herb in it). Others contained ingredients like wheat and rice that weren’t even listed on the label—which is problematic for the large population who are allergic or sensitive (celiac, autoimmune, heavy metal toxicity, etc) to these ingredients.
Another study tested WalMart, Walgreens, + Target supps: 35% of the products identified DNA from plants that weren't even listed on the labels. Some of these fillers/contaminants that were identified include rice, beans, pine, citrus, asparagus, primrose, wheat, houseplant, wild carrot and in many cases unlisted contaminants were the ONLY plant material found in the product samples.
Why is this important??
(aside from lack of transparency)
Perhaps you're trying your best on a GF diet BUT your supps (unbeknownst to you) contain wheat or other gluten-mimicking substances
Maybe you can't figure out why you feel WORSE after taking certain supplements
Maybe you don't feel any difference and because there's not enough of the active ingredients actually in the bottle (aka all filler)
This why you need to make the choice to be an educated consumer, put your smarty pants on and do the research. Practice makes perfect although with supplements, I'll admit, sometimes it can be challenging to find "perfect".
Even companies I like and would consider good quality sometimes make products or use ingredients (fillers and additives) that I'm not 100% stoked on.
The point here is to do your best and the more you learn, the better you'll do. Think of it as leveling up each time, you may not be at the top but it's better than where you were at yesterday.
Okay, so off my soapbox I go... you get it, you gotta research yadda yadda yadda...
But where do you even begin?
let's talk money, honey
Okay so going to CVS, GNC or even ____ (fill in your idea of a "healthy" grocer: TJ's, Sprouts, Whole Foods) and picking the cheapest supplements on the shelf is like going to the Dollar Store to get parts for your Ferrari. You don't do it because you know the quality is not going to be long-lasting or allow for optimal performance.
<If you don't get the analogy...
that beast of a machine is YOUR powerful, ferocious, kickass bod>
So a general rule of thumb, CHEAPEST IS NOT BEST when it comes to supplements. But I'm not saying that the most expensive one on the market is necessarily the best either 'cuz as we know... the outside don't always match the inside, even in the $$$$ range (although the chances are higher). If you're making a decision based off of price (and nothing else), your best bet is to buy something mid-range.
That being said, buying professional-grade supplements (stuff you can only get from a health practitioner) will cost more than your average grocery store supplement.
This is for a few reasons. They usually have:
-higher potency (more active ingredients)
-better quality + bioavailable ingredients
-third-party testing (not always but often they do in order to appeal to professionals who know the value of this)
In a way, it's like: getting regular OTC Ibuprofen vs. the prescription strength you get from your doc, buying organic vs buying conventional foods, fueling your body with McDonald's or Whole Foods, or for all y'all stoners out there, it's like getting the shwag from your dealer vs the super potent stuff they have in the clinics nowadays.
There is a BIG difference in the strength, potency, and quality and like with many things, it'll come with a higher price tag.
HOW TO CHOOSE A <SUPP> DEALER
So... I'm not sure who needs to hear this but...
YOU CAN'T TRUST IT JUST CUZ IT'S IN WHOLE FOODS.
This applies to food, supplements, drinks, or any product that is in a "health food" store. If this is news to you, you've fallen victim to "green-washing." These stores may have a bigger selection of "high-quality, healthy" stuff but that doesn't mean every item in the store has A+ quality ingredients.
You still gotta do your homework. Flip that bottle over and read the label.
Speaking of labels, you may see some of these on the bottles:
Some companies voluntarily get these certifications by the NSF, USP or Consumer Lab which show that their supplements:
Contain the ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and amounts.
Do not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants. Some supplements have been shown to contain harmful levels of certain heavy metals (e.g., lead and mercury), microbes, pesticides, or other contaminants.
Break down and release into the body within a specified amount of time. If a supplement doesn't break down properly, you don't get the full benefit of its contents.
Has been made according to Good Manufacturing Practices using sanitary and well-controlled procedures.
GREAT NEWS, RIGHT?!
Well, it's a good sign but it's not the holy grail of telling whether a product is THE ONE. Just because they have gotten these certifications does NOT guarantee that it's the best product out there. It just means that it's not total garbage and it meets what I would consider the basic requirements of something you'd purchase or consume.
Okay so then how do you know a brand is good?
Well, researching the company itself can tell you about a product. Do they:
-run third party testing?
-have full transparency about their ingredients quality and sourcing?
-have environmentally safe practices and sourcing of ingredients?
If you ask a company a question about their ingredients and they are NOT transparent, I'd proceed cautiously...
This can be quite a bit of work and lead you down a bit of a rabbit hole. So I encourage you to do your OWN research. I know some of you won't do that work however, so here are some of my go-to companies:
Some other decent companies are:
Many of these aren't sold in stores and you need to get them from a licensed professional. If you're interested in purchasing any of these you can get them by clicking HERE and get them sent straight to your door.
Also, I'd like to reiterate something I said earlier...
I don't love EVERY product made by my go-to brands.
Xymogen is one of my favorite companies overall but my favorite digestive enzyme is by Standard Process. Full confession: I don't LOVE all of SP's products either. Why do I say this?
Because it all comes down to.....
PART III: READING LABELS
Stay tuned for the next episode!
Please email me with any questions and follow me on IG @kaciehillacupuncture for daily tips and tricks to upgrade your health!