An Alternative Opinion
I am writing this in response to Shaun Ruskin’s column in the July 22 issue on nutritional supplementation. I have read Shaun’s column since it’s inception, and usually he gives very sound advice, but in this case he is just way off the mark. In his reply to "Ryan" he perpetuates several falsehoods and misconceptions about nutritional supplements that are just plain wrong. I have been involved in the nutritional industry for over three years and am presently an independent distributor for USANA Health Sciences Inc, an international nutritional research company. I would just like to present some facts for an alternative opinion, so people can make up their own minds.
First, let me preface by saying that I completely agree with Shaun that a
proper diet and both aerobic AND anaerobic exercise are necessary for overall good health. But adding the proper supplementation will have a profound synergistic effect on whatever health goals you are trying to accomplish, whether that is increase in muscle mass or weight management. Shaun recalls his confusion about what supplements he should have been taking in his local GNC. This is a valid and often expressed frustration on the part of many consumers. Unfortunately, most of the clerks in the average health food store have very little knowledge of what makes each product in the store different from each other. There are of course exceptions, but those are rare.
First, I would like to address the fact that not all supplements are created equal. The FDA only regulates the supplement industry according to food grade standards. What this means is that a manufacturer can put on his label, "contains 60 mg. of Vitamin C" and only put in, say, 40 mg. and not be in any violation. Due to cost factors, many do just that. In a landmark study, Dr. Michael Colgan, a leading authority on sports medicine, did lab assays of over 250 vitamin brands, and only 49 were found to have what they said they did. (Colgan, The New Nutrition, pg. 100). Many supplements also do not contain the most bioavailable form of nutrients. For example, most calcium supplements are cheap mineral salts, i.e., carbonates, rather than the much more bioavailable (and more expensive) citrates. Calcium carbonates must be chewed to be absorbed properly, yet they are often included in products that are meant to be swallowed whole. The ingredients are often not in the right ratio to each other, or contain other ingredients that interfere with absorption, such as calcium and Iron in the same
supplement (both interfere with the absorption of the other). So what should a consumer do? First, make sure your supplements are manufactured to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) for pharmaceuticals. Make sure there is a label claim guarantee that what’s on the label is actually in the products. Ask for clinical documentation of the efficacy of those products. See if there is a money
As to Shaun’s comments about not hearing any great success stories from supplement users, I ask him to let me buy him lunch, and I will give him several. With names, addresses, and phone numbers, so he can verify all of them himself! Here’s just one: I have a neighbor who suffered with a
chronic pain condition for six years. She went to several doctors, who tried all manners of medical therapies, including prescription pain medications and steroidal therapies. Nothing worked, and she was still in such pain that she would remain bedridden for days at a time. As a last resort, she tried some of our products, and within a two week period began getting relief from her
symptoms. It’s now been two years, and she is not only off of all her
medications, she says she feels better than she did before she got sick.
Unfortunately, the mainstream medical community does not yet fully embrace nutritional therapies, however this is one of only hundreds of stories like this that I know of personally. (I am not using this person’s name in respect to her privacy, but I can document this case).
As a physical trainer, Shaun should also be aware of the fact that athletes, particularly those in heavy training, generate significantly more free radicals than sedentary folks. This is why they often have more incidences of degenerative diseases, even though they are more physically fit than the rest of us. For a full discussion of this issue, see Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s book, The Antioxidant Revolution. Dr. Cooper, who coined the term "aerobics" was at a loss to explain why this was so, and his own research led him to conclude that only antioxidant protection would counteract this condition in the world class athletes he worked with.
Finally, the last myth is the often quoted "You can get all your nutrition
from food alone". In a study conducted by the FDA, 21,500 people were surveyed to find out how many were getting the minimum recommended daily allowance of only 10 essential nutrients. The findings? Not one person in the survey did. A 10-state study of over 86,000 people found similar evidence. (See Colgan, pg 36-39). Your body needs over 50 micronutrients on a daily basis, in amounts that far exceed the RDA (i.e, minimum) levels. To gain this from food alone, you would need to gorge yourself daily. There is a lot more evidence, but I would need several books to report all of it. I do have a special 12 page report called, "Your Health is In Danger" that covers this information in great detail with annotated references that I would be happy to send for free to anyone who wants a copy. (Just call me at
888-574-9256 and leave your name and number.) Or, you can visit our
corporate website at www.usana.com, click on technical bulletins, where you will find a wealth of information on the subject.
In summary, I think Shaun is sincere in wanting to help people achieve better health, I also believe that he is just seriously misinformed on this subject. I would love to meet with him face to face so we could discuss it further. After I have presented the facts, Mr. Ruskin will then be able to make a more informed and educated response to future inquiries in this area.
USANA Health Sciences Inc.