With sales of mineral and vitamin supplements soaring we ask, in light of concerning news from the USA, exactly what are we being sold and can we have confidence in the information on the label?

 

Vitamin Sales Boosted

Sales of vitamins and minerals are soaring. Driven on by a steady shift in attitude towards a healthier lifestyle but underpinned by innumerable news stories extolling their benefits. More than that, we are urged to make supplements a daily routine almost regardless of lifestyle and diet. It is possible to make the case for a supplement to even the healthiest among us. 

Vitamin D, for example, has been in the spotlight of late. As we move through winter in the northern hemisphere and the hours of daylight are at their minimum, starving us of our most available source of vitamin D, direct sunlight on the skin… a wonderful connection back to primordial times as our bodies are capable of turning sunlight into something useful. In the absence of the sunlight, we are forced to turn to our diet to get the extra. For vitamin D however, this turns out to be more challenging than for many other vitamins. It only occurs naturally in a limited range of food, oily fish along with beef and liver. There are also dairy products which can be fortified, but generally speaking, it can be a challenge. 

Vitamin D is essential to maintain healthy bones and so much more, deficiency can lead, in children, to Ricketts and in adults to osteoporosis. Low levels have also been associated with hair loss, fatigue, muscle pain, impaired wound healing, and even depression, the last one is hardly surprising you might think. Which all combines to make a substantial case for the supplement. It was reported that during a series of press articles in the UK  on their benefit last year sales rose by 70% in a short space of time… a testament to just how easy it is to convince people of their necessity. 

What’s In The Bottle?

While some scientists dispute the benefits of supplements, based on the ability of our body to successfully absorb them when they are not arriving in their natural form, there can be no doubt that when we buy a bottle there is an expectation that it will contain what is described on the label.

in worrying news from the USA, it appears that might not always be the case. Federal investigators tested three popular supplements and in two of the three discovered that an advertised active ingredient was simply absent. Not an oversight on behalf of the manufacturer either, since both had used a substitute ingredient… just as worryingly, the investigators were unable to identify those substitutes.

HIS Hair Clinic

We think the moral of the story must be that, wherever possible, we should be taking our vitamins and minerals in their natural form, in our diet. Or out in the sun for vitamin D in the summer months. For those who do take supplements, and we do not want to undermine confidence in them at all, the old rule of caveat emptor applies. Try to stick to reputable brands to avoid being suckered by a nefarious manufacturer. The two cases mentioned in this article are both now with the FDA for review, but it is unlikely to end well for the rogue manufacturers. 

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By Ian Watson

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