Dr. Bray Links

Monday, January 25, 2016

PBS episode on supplement quality

An investigation into the hidden dangers of vitamins and supplements, a multibillion-dollar industry with limited FDA oversight. FRONTLINE, The New York Times and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation examine the marketing and regulation of supplements, and cases of contamination and serious health problems.


Using fully tested and "vetted" supplements is a must! Consumer Lab is one such organization that I personally use often to generate recommendations.


Supplement Quality Statement 2015
Christopher Bray MD PhD

Given the recent news about poor quality supplements found in many large retail stores, I wanted to comment on this situation. We live in a society where businesses reign supreme and often either set the rules or bend the rules to allow themselves to succeed financially. In many countries of the world, chemicals are deemed as unfit for human consumption or external use until proven safe. In our country, chemicals are assumed safe until proven unsafe (which is often extraordinarily difficult to do due to regulatory roadblocks). Also, our supplement manufacturers are not required to meet stringent independent quality control checks like in other countries (Commission E in Germany for example). Many do so voluntarily, which I strongly support.

As a consumer, we must assume that anything we buy has potential harm and only purchase trusted products and brands. Sometimes, this means researching companies, manufacturing practices, and product quality ourselves. Otherwise, this means relying on trusted third-party certification to research and test products for us. We must be careful consumers when it comes to supplements – especially herbal products. I have found that when patients buy unspecified vitamin D, fish oil, or other vitamins/mineral/herbs – they many times do not have the expected benefits. Upon questioning, they chose an untrusted (but less expensive) brand or incorrect doses or even the incorrect supplement altogether. Supplements should be treated like prescriptions. They should be exact brands, doses, composition, and taken as specified by your practitioner. It takes an expert integrative medicine physician to guide you with these.

I use groups like ConsumerLab.com who investigate the quality and accuracy of the supplements that I recommend. I also like to see supplement manufactures that use third party certification agencies to verify that their products are free of contaminants like heavy metals (which is a big problem with herbal supplements from China and India as well as rice from the US which often has arsenic).

My universal rule is that organic and raw food sources are usually superior to supplemental forms of nutrition. Sometimes supplements are needed and I provide my patients with a list of tested and "vetted" versions.


Toxic Element Contamination of Natural Health Products and Pharmaceutical Preparations:

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