Do you want to know once and for all if supplements are good? Stay and we’ll tell you everything you need to know to convince your father.
Where does the fear of supplementation come from?
Dietary supplements have been commercialized for decades, even though they underwent a major commercial boom in the 1990s.
That being the case things why are supplements still frowned upon by some sectors of the population?
Figure I. Supplement de Omega 3.
Our parents and grandparents grew up in an age when anything other than classic foods (processed or not) were drugs .
That is, for them a food preparation based on proteins, vitamins and minerals (which is nothing more than a set of isolated nutrients, coming from a food and concentrated in a container) was used for sick children who needed to regain body weight.
But why a 40-year-old man who worked 10 hours in the field and he ate intuitively, rich in nutrients and even satiated without ethical limits or health problems would he use it?
When someone has suffered from a deficiency disease, went to the doctor and recommended a concentrated source of the nutrient in question to address the deficiency.
I will always remember an anecdote from a 50-year-old woman who told me that as a young man she suffered of recurrent iron deficiency anemia due to malnutrition, so the doctor advised her to consume boiled horse or horse blood due to its high iron content.
Any reader of this age (50 or older) he will remember with distaste the spoons of cod liver oil his mother gave him as a child to provide essential fatty acids and vitamin D3 to prevent rickets.
Figure II. Children lined up to receive a dose of cod liver oil from a nurse to prevent rickets.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the cod liver oil in softgels sold at HSN is the same as decades ago, but being encapsulated, it is bad already? Why is it perceived as such?
The legislative barrier
One of the major problems and the main reason why no one can say “all supplements are safe for everyone” is that there is no unit that regulates the sale and distribution of these products worldwide , so every country has different regulatory criteria.
The most famous are the EFSA (EU) and the FDA (USA), although there are many others such as the Canadian Health Government, the TGA (Australia) or the CFDA (China); each with its own regulations.
Where is the-relevance of this?
As although the definition of “supplement” (food supplement) is quite unanimous, the categories included in this concept are not, and therefore, the criteria that regulate the sale of some active ingredients.
Let’s take a simple example: Melatonin
The melatonin , we all know it, right?
It is a good help for treatment of secondary sleep disorders, in particular jet-lag.
It has been shown that is long-term safe , produces neither tolerance nor dependence, and the margin between the minimum dose effective and TD50 (medium toxic dose) is so large that it is virtually impossible to get intoxicated by melatonin.
Well, this supplement is so safe:
- In United States and Europe it is sold as a food supplement (in Spain up to 1.9 mg).
- In Canada it is an NHP (Natural Health Product) and is subject to a different regulation.
- In Australia it is considered a drug at any dose and must be prescribed by a doctor for dispensing.
Incredible the great diversity when it comes to the same compound, right? So what is it, a drug or a supplement?
So, in Europe it is a food supplement. And who’s right?
We don’t know, each organization exposes its reasons to classify it this way, take the regulations and keep what convinces you the most.
Not to mention the activities that can be sold in some countries and in others are directly considered a restricted substance or controlled use: like Yohimbine or 1,3-DMAA .
Figure IV. Old Jack3d by UPSlabs, famous for its DMAA content.
The key is common sense
In Spain , under the control of AECOSAN and EFSA’s audit, marketed food supplements are subject to a rigorous bibliographic review process and quality control, therefore that the presence of prohibited substances or contamination is very low.
Activities that have demonstrated solid efficacy and safety for use in humans have undergone a rigorous control process to determine its validity:
- Mechanistic investigation of the potential benefits of consuming a particular good.
- In vitro research.
- In vivo investigations on animal models .
- In vivo investigations on human models [Phase 1 – Phase 2 – Phase 3 – Phase 4].
Figure V. Graphic representation of the development process of a new marketed medicine.
What is the process to which a new marketed medicine is subjected.
So it always addresses those compounds whose validity has been carefully evaluated and carefully reviews foreign-made products that h year labels that look like this:
Figure VI. Labeling of a “natural pro-hormone” by a foreign company.
For the marketing of an asset in Spain (and in general , in Europe), must undergo the following process:
- Approval of the activity by the competent authorities after a bibliographic review of the clinical evidence.
- Assessment of adverse effect reports.
- Search for provisions with a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) seal that ensures adequate handling and control of raw materials.
- Control of labeling indications.
- Reflection on contraindications and dangers.
So buying food supplements in Spain is generally safe, we should just take this into account:
That the product fits our scenario
It is important to note that although a supplement X, which contains a certain active ingredient, has been considered safe at certain doses, there are some pathological conditions and medications that may interact negatively or unknown with the compound.
The consumption of caffeine is strongly discouraged in people who have suffered a cardiovascular or cerebrovascular accident and in case of use, it should be under the meticulous control by the cardiologist, as in this population, a safe dose of caffeine can be life-threatening.
There are rare polymorphisms, which people do not know about because normally nobody does a GWAS or genotype test, which they can influence the metabula smo of some compounds and produce organic toxicity, there are famous case studies that have shown liver toxicity due to the consumption of Kava Kava, an unusual but existing phenomenon .
It is important to be clear about the variables that determine general security for integration consumption and whether you do not have them, consult a professional who can guide you.
That the company that produces the product has quality guarantees.
It is important that the ‘ company from which the supplements are purchased has external accreditations certifying their content.
Surely you’ve heard things like that that protein is doping or that amphetamines or other sympathomimetic drugs are taken in pre-workouts; well, that’s not true, but what’s true is that:
Between 12 and 58% of food supplements marketed around the world contain banned substances and currently considered doping (Martínez-Sanz et al., 2017).
Of course, these data are significantly modified by products marketed in countries where quality controls are much slower, such as India, the United States, the United Kingdom or the United Arab Emirates.
To prevent this from happening, as it is a dangerous practice that intentionally or unintentionally on the part of the company, seriously endangers the sports career of an athlete.
It is important to acquire products from a company with audit which certifies the total absence of possible contaminants.
Among these, and the most important are the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) :
Figure VII. GMP.
Describing the minimum standard that drug manufacturers must meet in their manufacturing processes.
However, as supplements foods are not legislated like medicines, many companies do not.
HSN works with the GMP certification issued by the certification body Bureau Veritas, so as a buyer you can be sure that the products you buy are 100% free from any kind of contamination.
That declares the content of the product on the label in sufficient detail.
This is one more detail, especially applicable to herbal extracts .
As we already know, herbal extracts have biological activity thanks to the bioactive compounds which are naturally present in some parts of the plant.
When processed, concentrated and extracted, the activities are presumably concentrated, allowing us to obtain ergogenic benefits through the consumption (generally) of milligrams of extract.
Few companies certify the bioactive content of their extracts of herbs, as this is an expensive process for the determination of HPLC compounds and, if the raw material is purchased from a cheap manufacturer, it may not have this information.
On HSN you will see that in our herbal extracts we reflect the content of their main active ingredients, as well as having more information on concentrations of other secondary activities.
Figure IX. Information on the monacolin K content of HSN fermented red yeast rice.
This is certainly very important, not only because it ensures you as a consumer the physiological activity of the supplement you are consuming, but also because it allows you to select the toxin-free raw materials naturally present in the plant that are also concentrated in the extracts.
For example, fermented red yeast rice has a mycotoxin called citrinin produced by the action of the mushroom Monascus purpurea that ferments food.
If you don’t know what the composition of the red yeast rice you are selling is, how can you do you know that it is safe?
This is because many integration companies use the cheapest raw materials on the market and do not have technical experts able to alert those responsible for the selection of ingredients in these possible situations.
We at HSN are transparent which is why we can guarantee that our products are free of contaminants:
- Maximum information, maximum quality, maximum transparency; without deceit.
- The first thing is you and taking care of your health is one of our top priorities.
So when your dad asks you what those pills are you taking, tell him:
“Dad, this is cod liver oil, like the one you used to have as a young man , but encapsulated to keep it from having its bad taste.
I bought it on HSN, a company that has external certifications that accredit the quality of its products.
And I use it because it is a food supplement that has been considered safe by the international reference authorities and in my case it is perfectly suited to my needs “.
Who knows if after some time you won’t be able to convin try to take care of himself a little more.