AllSupplementsAreNotCreatedEqual

AllSupplementsAreNotCreatedEqual - ALL SUPPLEMENTS ARE NOT...

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Unformatted text preview: ALL SUPPLEMENTS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL by Dallas he consumer who walks into a T health food store and finds himself a little overwhelmed by the variety of different product forms and claims is not alone. Sales staff in some stores can help sort things out, but even the well— informed retailer often is at a loss to answer questions regarding supplement quality and proper use. The facts are that the standards under which vitamin, min— eral and other supplements are manufac— tured vary widely from company to com— pany. These standards affect how — and whether — a supplement is absorbed and utilized by the body. Unfortunately, the consumer cannot look for government help in sorting things out. Only minimal government guidelines (not regulations) apply to 'such issues as storage, inventory rotation, particle granulation and tablet coatings, yet all of these influence the quality of vitamins and minerals. So what should the consumer look for when purchasing supplements? How can she be reasonably certain that a product will have the potency and desired results? Clouatre, STEP 1: START WITH THE BODY Whenever you look at a formulation, ask yourself what effect its various ingredients will have. One formula promises to pro— vide insurance against a multitude of vita— min and mineral deficiencies, another will supply protection against stress, and a third is taken to correct, say, bone loss. Therefore, choosing a supplement would seem to be merely a matter of one with a formulation which matches the desired effect. This is simple, right? W/rong! All supplements work through the metabolism of the body. This means that to understand and evaluate supple— ments, the consumer must first under— stand how supplements are absorbed and utilized. All good formulators take the body’s metabolism into account when designing products. If you have ever asked yourself, “Why did they do that?” with regard to a formula, then this is the place to find out. The metabolism of nutrients consists of four steps, and effective products address all four of these. Any supplement must Ph.D. first be digested, then assimilated, utilized and finally excreted. Each of these steps has its own special requirements. Digestion Digestion, for instance, governs some of the more arcane processing which sup— plements sometimes undergo. Is the mineral chelated? Does the vitamin or enzyme require enteric coating? Should it be buffered? These production issues all involve digestion. / Digestion takes place in the stomach and the small intestine. The fluids of the stom- ach are acidic, whereas those in the small intestine are alkaline. These facts place spe— cial requirements upon manufacturers. Let’s start with minerals. Many miner— als, such as calcium and magnesium, are naturally alkaline, and this is the reason that they often are the base for antacids, such as Tums. (The 14— point scale of the degree of acidity or alkalinity is called the pH of a substance, with pure water read— ing neutral at roughly 7.) These minerals usually are not easily absorbed unless they May/lune I995 THE ENERGY TIMES 3| first have been neutralized. Some author- ities suggest that calcium (from carbon— ate) and magnesium (from oxide) be taken between meals precisely so that they do not interfere with digestion and to insure that they are better absorbed. Other authorities suggest that these min- Index, to determine the proper fit between a mineral and a ligand.) Nevertheless, in still other cases, the ligand may be too powerful and actually pull minerals from the body. The oxalic acid found in spinach is an example of this. On the one hand, minerals typically are unstable and easily destroyed in the diges- tive tract. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is sometimes listed amongst ingredients, but no researcher in the field of antioxi— dants believes that SOD taken by mouth has any effect whatsoever. Another good instance of the need to protect ingredients erals be taken with pro— tein-containing meals in order to make sure the stomach is secreting enough hydrochloric acid to bind the mineral in an assimilable form. Unfortunately, the older we become, the less hydrochloric acid we pro— duce, and therefore the less well we absorb many minerals. Manufacturers try to get around this problem by chelating minerals. This simply means that a pro— tein, an amino acid, or another acid is attached to the mineral before it is made into a tablet or cap- sule. This corrects the pH and generally improves absorption. lots of prod— ucts claim to be chelated, but several problems rou— tinely appear. First, true chelates usually are about 80% chelator (called the ligand) and only 20% mineral, and often this fig- ure is even lower. This means that getting even 100 mg. of a mineral such as magnesium chelated to citric acid to make magne— sium citrate (the “ate” indicating that it is a min— eral salt of the acid) requires a fairly large tablet or capsule. Otherwise, what you really are buying is mostly magnesium oxide, which is roughly 60% magnesium and POPULAR WORD DEFINITIONS Assay» test done to determine quantity of active(s) in a product, and often the chemical composi— tion, the presence of heavy metals and sterility Binders» compounds which assist in holding the product together Bioavailability» the degree of biological activity of the active ingredients Chelation» from the Greek word meaning “claw-like,” refers to proteins or organic acids added to minerals to improve absorption Coatings» film applied to tablets to make swallowing easier and to protect against moisture and oxygen Disintegration time» time need— ed for the tablet to break down in digestive fluids Dissolution time» time needed for active ingredients to dissolve in digestive fluids Enteric coating» special coat— ing designed to release nutri— ents in a particular region of the digestive tract Fillers» compounds added to tablets and capsules for shaping and processing purposes Lubricants» compounds which prevent tablets from sticking in tableting equipment and which help ingredients flow through filling machines Micro-encapsulation» encapsu— lation of ingredients within mini-capsules to control release time or to protect from exposure to other ingredients within the same capsule (a good example of this is cold capsules, which sometimes contain a multitude of small micro—encapsulated, colored balls) Natural source» concentrated from plant or animal raw materi- als or produced from these through additional steps Particle granulation» preprocess— ing of ingredients for tablets or capsules to make larger particles which are easier to process Sustained release» designed to provide the release of ingredients over an extended period of time and throughout an extended length of the digestive tract Synergism» when two or more items work together to provide results superior to those found when each is taken alone Synthetic source» produced from petrochemicals, coal tar or similar sources from digestive degrada— tion is the enzyme pan- creatin. Our digestive system releases pancreatin in the alkaline medium of the small intestine. This enzyme can be taken oral— ly, but the acid of the stomach can deactivate it before it reaches the site of its own activity. To get around this difficulty, many manufacturers enteric-coat pancreatin and other similarly acid- sensitive ingredients to prevent their destruction in the stomach. This is exactly the same process which is applied to aspirin to prevent it from causing stomach bleeding and other problems for those who must take aspirin routinely. This would seem to be a great solu- tion, but to properly enteric coat an item is not easy. The coating must be resistant to acid, yet dissolve in the alkaline environment of the small intestine, and individuals vary greatly in both how acidic their stomachs are and in how alkaline their small intestines are. lfthe coating is improperly done or if it is designed for the wrong person, supplement or enzyme will simply be wasted. Two other issues relat- ed to digestion, disinte— gration and dissolution, highly alkaline. A second and related problem is that most minerals are quite difficult to chelate, and just attaching any acid will not be adequate. As a rule, stronger acids, such as citric acid, are more successful as chelating agents. (Chemists use special references, such as the Merck 32 THE ENERGY TIMES May/June I995 best absorbed if exposed to the very low 1.5 pH of the stomach, i.e., an acid envi— ronment. On the other hand, many vita— mins and enzymes can be destroyed by such conditions. The active coenzyme form of vitamin B—6, known as pyridoxal 5’ phosphate or P—S—P, is notoriously have to do with the physical breakdown of the tablet. Unless specifically designed to do otherwise, any tablet should disinte- grate or break down into fine particles within 30 minutes of being exposed to stomach acid, and within 45 minutes of being exposed to intestinal fluids. These are pharmaceutical standards, and tablets are tested by the use of special machines and liquids. (No, putting a tablet in vine— gar will not tell you how well it disinte— grates in your stomach.) Disintegration is a mechanical process. Dissolution is the speed at which the actual nutrient dis- solves in digestive fluids, and this is a more tricky issue. To further complicate matters, sometimes you want fast disinte- gration and dissolution, but you want slow absorption. Licorice is added to many Chinese herbal formulas to accom- plish this, with the process being known as sustained release. Assimilation After digestion comes assimilation. This takes place primarily in the small intes- tine. As with digestion, many factors can adversely affect assimilation. Some nutrients can only be assimilated within the first foot or so of the small intestine, whereas others can pass into the blood stream along almost the entire length of both intestines. Some nutrients interact badly or compete for absorption. Others require that your body secrete special proteins as carriers before they 36 THE ENERGY TIMES May/lune I995 E vening primrose oil should be just that: evening can be absorbed. Vitamin B—12 requires a substance secreted by the stomach in order to be absorbed, Whereas folic acid requires something secreted by the intestine. Fat soluble vitamins, including A, D, E and K, all are best absorbed when taken with meals which contain some fat or oil. Sometimes digestive enzymes are includ— ed in formulas to improve absorption, but the verdict on these is mixed. Many nutrients actively compete for uptake. Zinc and copper are good exam— ples, and the usual recommendation is that 1 mg. of copper should be taken for every 15 mg. of zinc, although at least one specially chelated zinc appears to not compete with copper For assimilation. Similar problems of competition for uptake charactetire many vitamins and minerals, so the consumer shouid look for balanced formulations. Competition for assimilation tends to be lessened when vitamin and mineral supplements are taken with full meals. To improve assimilation, some compa— nies present what are termed time release or Store-rifled release formulas. The slow release of nutrients can be accomplished in several different ways. One way is to ooum particles tightly so that they dis— solve slowly. Another way is to surround the tablet with special coatings. Sustained release sounds great in principle, and sometimes is. However, it should be remembered that many nutrients can only be absorbed in the early part of the small intestine. Likewise, making an item into a sustained release form sometimes means that it passes through the entire digestive tract without release. A quite different problem comes up with some forms of minerals. Iron sulfate is commonly dispensed by pharmacists as an iron supplement. The health food industry has mostly abandoned iron sul- fate and many other similar mineral sup- plements because of digestive tract issues. In this particular case, the iron is indeed assirnilable, but it is much more available to bacteria in the gut than to you! Therefore, chelates of iron, such as iron furnarate, are better absorbed by the body. Utilization This is a complex issue which can only be touched upon here. It is known that many nutrients facilitate the actions of A Flower This Beautiful Deserves Purity As Exceptional As Ours primrose oil. Nothing more, nothing less. Frankly, the quality of evening primrose products varies. Most brands simply buy generic capsules and market them under fancy labels. We’re different. Health From The Sun has pioneered a rigorous process that guarantees our oil contains only what Mother Nature intended. It‘s called Purity Managementm. 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The consump- tion of small amounts of alcohol greatly improves the assimilation of many sub— stances, but in large amounts alcohol not only is toxic itself, but also it prevents the body from using other nutrients, such as beta—carotene. Again, there appears to be a synergism between nutrients such as selenium and Vitamin E or many bioflavonoids and vitamin C. Bioavailability is a term which often is used broadly to cover both assimilation and utilization. Some of the most com- mon or cheap forms of Vitamins, for instance, are not nearly as active in the body as other forms. Many vitamins must be transformed in the liver to com— zyme forms by the attachment of an amino acid or by some other change before the body can use them. Others require changes which take place either in the liver or the small intestine. An exam— ple of the latter is beta—carotene. Beta— carotene is an antioxidant in its own right, but it also can be converted to vita- min A. Unfortunately, either the con— sumption of large amounts of alcohol, or other factors can interfere with this con— version. The issue of the activity or bioavailability of synthetic versus natural vitamins will be taken up below. Excretion The last issue in this section is the elimi- nation of nutrients from the body. You may already know that certain items in foods can bind minerals and cause them to be lost from the body. Oxalic acid from spinach, the phytic acid found in grains and large amounts of fiber can all remove nutrients from the body or make these nutrients unavailable. Less well- known is the fact that large amounts of many otherwise desirable items, such as the antioxidant tannins and polyphenols from tea, can bind minerals and cause them to be lost. STEP 2: MANUFACTURE We have already discussed a number of aspects of manufacture. Chelation and the use of enteric coatings are designed to make nutrients more resistant to digestive damage or more assimilable. Tests of dis— integration and dissolution times are designed to make sure that nutrients Weary of tired legs, cold hands or sore feet? Turn to a centuries-old European secret. €ircu Caps" are a unique way of maintaining proper circulation through improved nutrition. The secret is a special herb combination of butchers broom and rosemary oil. Circu Caps" are used by millions of Europeans. All you need is one Circu Cap per day. For more information, call (800)447-2249. .4 miiabieaf fine {with fork! stares mum, injuring imt: Maris. first: Fields and most: 6mm“ Pleasamdmalltre-myaupply ofchchathmmd sammmmLWnlmaum. become available before they pass out of the system. But supplement manufactur— ing covers many other issues ranging from the relatively simple, such as the nature of binders and fillers, to the com- plex, which includes how Vitamins are actually made and testing for toxins. Let’s start with the simple first. Binders, Fillers, Lubricants and Coatings Binders are those items which hold a tablet together. Usually these include veg— etable gums, cellulose and microcrys- talline cellulose. Capsules, too, can make use of binders to influence how rapidly or slowly a product is released. Acacia gum from the acacia tree is a common. Cellulose is an indigestible plant fiber. These, along with fillers, can act as dis— persing agents. Fillers have many purposes. Besides being dispersing agents, they often are used to combine the active ingredients in a stable dosage form. Tableting and encapsulating equipment always needs a certain amount of bulk to work, and fillers allow the manufacturer to use this Continued on page 55 May/June I995 THE ENERGY TIMES 37 ALL SUPPLEMENTS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL Continued from page 37 equipment. For instance, the supplement CoQ—lO is often sold in 30 or even 15 mg. capsules. This is a tiny amount of material, and it can be encapsulated only if it is first mixed with a filler. Common fillers are silica, di— and tri—calcium phos- phate, and vegetable oils. Silica comes from mined rock sources. Di— and tri—cal— cium phosphate also come from rock sources and provide both calcium and phosphorous. Di— and tri—calcium phos- phorous have come under attack in the health food industry in the United States, but not a single published study supports the claims made against them as fillers, so it is difficult to understand why they are now shunned. Vegetable oils, including soy, safflower, canola and olive oils are used to suspend oil Vitamins and nutri— ents, such as vitamins A and E. Tablet Coating Lubricants are almost universally used with both tablets and capsules. The rea- son is simply that ingredients must be able to flow freely through equipment in order for capsules to be filled or to be able to remove tablets from tableting machines. Few products can be manufactured with— out lubricants, but these are rare excep— tions. Common lubricants are calcium and magnesium stearate, which are roughly 94-95% stearic acid (sometimes palmitic acid) derived from vegetable oils and 46% calcium or magnesium. Just as lubricants are almost universally used, so are coatings. Aside from specialty items, such as enteric coatings, coatings are used for two reasons. First, they make the surface of tablets smoother, making swallowing easier. Second, they act as a layer of protection against oxygen and moisture, two of the great enemies of all supplements. Food glaze refers to varieties of tree resins which are usually considered fully digestible and inert. Vegetable pro- tein can also be used as a glaze, and it acts much the same way as does food glaze. (Almost all companies avoid corn—based proteins.) Very recently vegetable capsules have become very popular. Natural Versus Synthetic Few issues arouse as much controversy as the manufacturing ingredients used in the production of supplements. Synthetic versus natural, food bound versus good grown versus food based, etc. are fighting words in the industry. Is this just seman- tics, or are there real issues at stake? In fact, the issues are real. They include both costs and activity. But the answers are not necessarily simple. For instance, recent research clearly indicates that natur- al beta-carotene (derived from sea plants, carrots, alfalfa, etc.) is a more active antioxidant than the isolated variety. On the other hand, the isolated material is both cheaper and more stable, and this is why manufacturers use it. All antioxidants are unstable to some degree, and the more powerful they are, the more unstable they tend to be. Vitamin E is example of this. The natural d—alpha tocopherol is many times more potent as an antioxidant in the body than is the synthetic dl—alpha tocopherol form. Nevertheless, natural vitamin E, which is extracted primarily from soybeans, typi— cally will contain some soy residue, and therefore some potential allergens for those who are allergic to soybeans. Moreover, to complicate matters still fur- ther, pure d—alpha tocopherol is highly unstable and may become rancid before it reaches the consumer. For this reason vit— amin E is often esterified by the addition of acetic acid or succinic acid; this means that one of these acids has been attached to the vitamin E at the point at which oxygen would attack the molecule. Since the body generally has uses for acetate and succinate, the small loss in antioxidant activity is generally made up for with a vastly more stable product. If the contrast is between an extract from a plant source and something made synthetically from petroleum, the contrast seems clear. However, this line begins to blur rather rapidly in many instance. For example, “natural” Vitamin C concentrat— ed from a source such as acerola generally cannot be economically concentrated beyond about 35% purity. This takes up a great deal of space and it is costly. However, you can make “natural” Vitamin C through a lS-step process which begins with starch (just about any source of starch will suffice). \With the use of enzymes, fer- mentation, oxidation and hydrolysis to make virtually pure ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Is this “natural” in the same sense as Continued on page 64 NEW! AND NATURAL! Dr. Wri t’s Nutritional era i Hotline py "Get off the ’musical prescriptions’ carousel and onto a more natural approach to health and wellness.” .‘ Jonathan Wright, MD Internationally acclaimed practitioner of nutritional therapy and author. You’ve seen his columns in Prevention and Let’s Litre magazines. Now, Dr. Wright shares with you his many ears of ex erience heating chronic ai ments wit 1 nutrition-based therapy. 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May/June I995 THE ENERGY TIMES 55 ALL SUPPLEMENTS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL Continued from page 55 the first source? Nearly all chemists will tell you that the products are identical. Packaging and Shelf Life In many ways as important as the manu— facturing process is what happens to sup- plements afier they have been produced. All supplements are damaged by such things as heat, light, oxygen and moisture. Packaging and handling therefore can be quite important to the life of a product. As a rule, opaque containers are superior to clear containers because they protect the supplements from light. Most products also contain what are known as desiccants, which are small packets of silica gel which absorb moisture. Some even go the extra step of inserting an item which absorbs oxygen from inside the package, but this is usually not necessary. The most important element, how the supplement was stored, cannot easily be determined. Here con— sumers really are at the mercy of shipping companies and retailers. STEP 3: TESTING Manufacturers routinely test their prod— ucts, but testing is not always easy. The more items placed in a single product, the more difficult it will be to test for full label potency. When products are tested, there is always a range of acceptable values. As a rule, nutritional products must have at least 90% of the potency listed on the label, but no more than 110%. Reputable manufacturers always test their raw materials before they use them to make supplements. After production, every manufacturer should have two differ— ent types of records for each product. The first is the product specification sheet. This lists the active and inactive ingredients with‘ amounts found in the product. This is typically the source of label claims. The second type of record is a certificate of analysis or laboratory assay. This can reflect analysis either done by the manufac— turer or by an independent laboratory. This record will always give the control number, date of certification and a general description of the product in question. If there are ever any questions regarding a batch of a supplement, it is the certificate of analysis which the company will turn to. What It All Means Many of the elements which are impor— tant in determining supplement quality are not easily checked by consumers, but The Dead Sea natural substances have been tested on humans for 3,000 years... An ancient land of mountains, deserts and a unique nit sea brings ' you uncompromising pure and effective skin care. Ten limes richer I - I .."in_minegals than muesli: —- that mears'ten limes lhe nutrients tor ' en tithes the healing propertia, ten lima the pleamre. ry' Cleopatra obtained the ingredients of her beauty I herapeufic essential-oils and indigenous botanicals resulting in a complete selection of natural skin, hair and spa products. :\r. . “c For further information or orders, contact: CLEOPATRA’S SECRET 130 West 25th Street / Suite 10F / New York, New York 10001 /1-800-344-9999 64 THE ENERGY TIMES May/June I995 those which are should be examined close- ly. The sarne item should look, feel and smell much the same every time it is pur— chased unless the formula has been revised. Odd changes in color or texture are indications that quality may have changed as well. Labels should always make clear how much of each active ingredient is present, nor just how much of its setu'ce is used. [F you are purchasing magnesium citrate, the important figure is thus the amount of elemental magnesium and not the amount of magnesium citrate. Finally, there is the old adage that you get what you pay for. The most expensive product may nor be the best, bur quality often costs more because it involves more steps and better tracking. Remember, you are putting this into your body, so a little extra caution can pay real dividends. Cl Dal/at Claudine, PhD, is a researcher; writer and consultant to nutritional and cosmetics manrgfirram in the 0.5. and ire/431:1 He no: rang/7r a the University of Caly‘omr'rr, Bench); and be: authored two oert—Jeffing emu, Ami-Fa: Num'mrs and The Diet and Health Benefits of H CA (with Mic/aan Rosenbuum, MD). Dr. Clouatre can be near/mi at Cloud"? Coan Group: (510) 848—8143, or @1me (510) 848—0649. CROSSWORD ANSWERS x§m|hw .——|— .. l'l'li l ._ [or __-"' .""\ efl—H - *2! H Lm'rnam>r':- bCRQOr Cl C‘ .3 :ni-w — O T} E| I I | .ml re }-<| .. _“ >- to '5. ...
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AllSupplementsAreNotCreatedEqual - ALL SUPPLEMENTS ARE NOT...

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