Today’s post comes from Dr. Dan at OVitaminPro.com.
Last month, we wrote a post about supplement safety. We want you to be absolutely confident that supplements have an excellent safety record, so this month we are going to continue addressing this topic.
If you pay attention to your body, you can quickly identify supplements that you shouldn’t be taking. I am one of the people who has trouble with L-glutatmine. So guess what, I eliminated it from my regimen and that’s that. One of our staff doesn’t do well with Ashwagandha. The effects are mild and very transient – as soon as she eliminates products that include this herb, she is just fine. For other people L-glutamine and Ashwagandha have fabulous benefit. You will need to pay attention to your own body, for heaven’s sake.
To understand the reports in the news about supplement safety, you need to first understand the game to understand what the players are up to.
The game is control of your health and your body. Billions of dollars are at stake and so is your right to decide what is right for you. How you line up on this topic depends on how you feel about health freedom and whether you think backroom meetings in Washington should decide your fate.
You may have heard of the revolving door system of government and industry. This is the system where a person works for a time at a major pharmaceutical company and then takes a position in the FDA for a few years and then goes back to the pharmaceutical industry. This keeps the FDA and pharmaceutical companies on very friendly terms as they play golf together, play poker together, fly on the same corporate jets and sail on the same corporate yachts. To learn more and get really depressed, search FDA and/or Wall Street revolving door connections.
That’s what I am talking about when I say the goal is control of your health, and one part of that is the impending takeover of supplements by the pharmaceutical industry. This recently just played out in wild yam-derived progesterone drops. The FDA has determined that this has to be a prescription item even though it is has been used for decades without any significant problems. We have recommended this as a supplement for our patients for at least 20 years and I can’t recall a single significant problem.
This changes a $19 bottle of progesterone drops into a $200+ prescription item. Factor in $130 or so for the office visit plus $70 for the pharmaceutical company’s prescription-only progesterone. Wealthy people will find this an inconvenience, but people of more moderate means will have to decide between paying a utility bill and balancing their hormones.
So what’s next? Will the FDA’s next target be DHEA, vitamin C, vitamin D or some other incredibly safe supplement?
Running point on this campaign is Senator Dick Durbin, who has worked hard to get more supplement control into the hands of the FDA. If that doesn’t send a cold chill up your spine, you don’t have enough facts. One recent bill that he introduced in 2011 (S 1310) would actually establish more stringent controls over the supplement industry than exists for pharmaceuticals. Fortunately for all of us, his bill failed to get the needed support in the Senate. We can thank the natural health community for their effective action.
Back to the real question here: are dietary supplements safe? Let’s consider some government data. Since 2008, the supplement industry has been required to report adverse events to the FDA’s AER system.
In 2008, the FDA reports:
- 1,080 reports related to dietary supplements
- 526,527 reports related to prescription drugs
- 26,517 reports related to vaccines
Of course, Durbin thinks that the problems with supplements are just underreported. There just aren’t that many adverse reactions to dietary supplements to report.
Poison control centers reported zero deaths related to vitamin and mineral supplements in 2010. FDA approved drugs are responsible for 80% of poison control fatalities each year. Poison control centers report 100,000 calls, 56,000 emergency room visits, 2600 hospitalizations and 500 deaths each year from acetaminophen (Tylenol) alone.
Data from the European Union indicates that pharmaceutical drugs are 62,000 times more likely to cause death as dietary supplements. To put it another way, you are more likely to drown in your bathtub than die from nutritional supplements.
Let’s discuss a particular study. The National Cancer Institute published an article in July 2013 that suggests an association between elevated plasma omega-3 fatty acids and an increase in prostate cancer risk.
There are several problems with this type of study. The first is that this contradicts several studies that find the opposite to be true.
Other problems with the conclusion of this report are as follows:
Only a single blood test (plasma levels) was used for each person. They did not follow omega-3 fatty acid levels over time. Is it possible that the men with prostate cancer had upped their intake of omega-3 fatty acids in an attempt to improve their health and that these men already had the prostate cancer prior to the increased fish oil intake?
If they really wanted to know omega-3 fatty levels, they should have sampled EPA and DHA within red blood cells which gives a much better indicator of actual levels. Plasma levels are fairly volatile and subject to day to day fluctuations.
Did other factors compound the prostate cancer risk?
- 53% of the subjects with prostate cancer were smokers
- 64% of the subjects with prostate cancer were regular alcohol consumers
- 30% of the cancer subjects had a family history or prostate cancer
- 80% of the cancer subjects were overweight or obese
These studies are trotted out like champion thoroughbreds when in reality they are more like sickly, old skinny horses that need help standing up.
The body of literature that supports the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-e fatty acids (fish oil) is extensive. These biased studies and conclusions need to be illuminated for the deceptions that they are.
It has always been and it will remain our goal at OVitaminPro.com to help you make the best decisions about your supplements and health. Of course it is easier when we have some decent blood tests to work with but that is a topic for another day.
16 thoughts on “Some More On the Supplement Safety ‘Controversy’”
Thanks for this info on fish oil. We had heard about the prostrate study, and were alarmed. Feeling better now:)
I have been taking supplements for 3 years now due to a surgery I had in 2010. My surgeon told me all I needed was calcium and I ended up walking around like a zombie 6 weeks after. Let’s just say I am not a fan of the medical system here in the USA. I also had mercury toxicity from amalgams that the dentist kept saying were fine to leave inside my mouth.
The government controls everything – the hospitals, the clinics, doctors, pharmacists and so on. If it’s FDA approved, I don’t buy it. They are killing us with the big corporations and all the processed foods and toxins in the air.
Supplements and real food is the way to go!!!
FDA and Pharmaceutical companies are out for profit and not the health of the people. Doctors have become pharmaceutical (drug) dealers to only provide pills to quiet down the syptoms not alleviate them. Toxins from these medicines are trapped in the body and will cause complications and problems elsewhere in the body. We are all different, so the cookie-cutter approach to distributing pills to everyone is NOT the answer. Since I’ve gone holistic, I am MORE aware of my body’s symptoms and what the body does NOT like. One can start by not consuming anything packaged from their diets, and be aware of gluten products and dairy that causes alot of symptoms within the body. The Government need not involve themselves in my life for the fight for ME to stay healthy!
Thanks Dr. Dan for this informative piece. Whenever something so alarming comes out in the news, I stop and wonder…who’s to gain here? Are all Inuit peoples riddled with prostate cancer? What about Norweigians and other cultures who depend on fish as a major food group in their diets? My husband’s arthritis is practically non-existent by using Nordic Naturals Omega-3 fish oil, as well as being gluten free. Carefully processed, high quality fish oil has saved me from depression. I’m not about to go off of it because of scare tactics. I plan on forwarding your article to many male friends, some who unfortunately, believe the press is God.
I began taking supplements a few years ago through my naturopathic physician. I went from having to take a prescription statin drug for my high cholesterol to a much safer (with NO side effects) red yeast rice supplement, plus a high quality fish oil. When that didn’t take my high cholesterol down enough, we added in a flush free niacin supp. My cholesterol level dropped. My internist was stunned. He told me to keep doing what I was doing. Since, I have taken many different supplements and have NEVER had any problems. Thank you to all doctors who are “willing to think outside of the box” and break from tradition. For Big Government – Get out of our personal lives!! We don’t tell you what to put into your bodies, why in the world would any of you think you should have control over what we put into our bodies?!
It call comes back to the almighty dollar. The drug companies don’t make any money off of healthy people so it’s in their best interest that we all be sick and need their drugs. If that doesn’t work, they’ll work with the govt to redefine drugs so that healthy people have to pay them to stay healthy. That alone makes me ill.
Thank you for this article. I totally agree and have been appalled that government wants to control our health. I have been following this for years, and have just learned a new fact from you today. I was not aware that the progesterone drops were the same as what is bought as a drug from the pharmacy. I thought it was less potent because of the brainwashing we receive from the medical arena.
Thanks for this informative article. I will be forwarding it to friends. I agree with Alberta that we all need to be examining who is to gain from such legislation. Some time ago I snail-mailed a letter on this very issue to the FDA but never received any response or acknowledgment. I will definitely be signing the petition.
At our office we use muscle testing to determine if supplements are compatible with any particular client’s system. This works well in avoiding any reactions and saving time and money in the process.
We are in a sad state of affairs. I hate to say it, but it just appears that certain people want a piece of the financial pie that comes from these supplements. I have used both Wild Yam progesterone & Vitamin D with great benefit. I will say that I was recommended to take L-Glutamate and suffered terrible side effects. Thanks to y’all for all the services you provide.
Thank you Norma for signing the petition!
Pass the email on to your friends!
Great article. I only use supplements that are recommended to me by medical professionals who know me and my body /brain/history well. That ends up being my chiropractors rather than my excellent MD. They are simply better trained in this area. A lot of money is wasted on supplements that are inappropriate for the individual or formulated in a way that’s difficult for the body to absorb. I wouldn’t take supplements without professional support any more than I’d take RX without a prescription. The key to make sure you’re listening to the right professional for the problem you need to solve.
Thanks Jane! This is why we recommend everyone get a good blood test to find out what their body needs. It takes the guessing out of it!
Thank.you for the info! Exactly what Ive been looking for.
I just discovered your website yesterday and certainly agree with what you have to say about the FDA and our government. I will be signing the petition.