Fitness and Health Weight Loss Plans

Supplement Safety (Part 1 of 2)

Image result for image fish oil

While there may always be a debate on the “best” diet, there is no question that no matter what diet you eat you are likely supplementing it with some sort of dietary aide. There are 170 million supplement users in this country. According to a 2016 survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the Council for Responsible Nutrition,

  • 40-70% of athletes use supplements.
  • 49% of adults used a supplement within the last month: 54% of women, 43% of men.
  • Age influences supplement use: 34% aged 20-39, 50% age 40-59, and 67% over age 60.
  • Health insurance coverage influences supplement use: 53% of those with health insurance  purchased supplements compared with 31% without insurance.
  • Health status can influence supplement use: “excellent” or “very good” health (55%) versus “good” (47%) or fair/poor (44%)
  • Physical activity level parallels supplement use: “low” (43%); “moderate” (54%) ; “high” (56%).

So you see across the board there are a variety of groups of people who take supplements and each group has unique reasons as to why they feel they need to use supplements,
In general, aging, fitness and self care seem to top the list that has created a 37 billion dollar supplement market,
37 billion dollars is not small potatoes. Why has the supplement industry grown to this size? Because those who use supplements believe it benefits them. Otherwise why would they spend the money? In fact, surveys suggest that 78% of Americans are confident in the safety, quality, and effectiveness of the products they use,
Yes 78% of Americans are confident in the safety, quality, and effectiveness of the supplements they use.  A very large percent considering supplement manufacturers themselves are responsible for ensuring that a product is safe and effective and that the supplement facts label and ingredient lists are accurate before it is marketed.
Relying on the FDA or supplement manufacturers may not be a good idea. The FDA manufacturing standards allow additives, fillers etc… (such as  FD&C dyes, sodium benzoate, dextrose, ethycellulose, and propylene glycol) in supplements that can be hazardous to your health over the long term.
Take fish oil for example, According to Dr. Mercola, 25-50% of fish oil supplements sold may not be safe or effective for a few reasons.
For one, “The quality of fish supplements can be affected by contaminants (such as mercury, PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls ), dioxin, cadmium, lead, chromium and arsenic Radioactive substances like strontium, PDEs (Phosphodiesterases) and PCP’s (pentachlorophenol)”.
Two, Preston Mason, MBA, PhD, Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, at the Harvard Medical School explains “fish are crushed and the oil is exposed to air, it oxidizes which can trigger changes inside human cells that lead to health problems like cardiovascular disease”.  Oxidation (oil reacts with oxygen and initiates an undesirable series of chemical reactions that eventually produces rancidity in oil) during processing may prove to cause more harm than good.
Three, studies have found discrepancies with supplement labeling and actual content; “over 60% of the store brand supplements tested had incorrect labeling, and more than 50% of those tested didn’t contain the advertised ingredient”, this is a very telling image from,
So does this mean avoid Omega-3, or any, supplement?
NO! It means Americans purchasing supplements have a NEED and responsibility to themselves to be educated customers.
There is an abundance of scientific evidence supporting the role of supplements and its relationship to a multitude of health benefits especially when guided by a knowledgeable healthcare professional and when used appropriately.
Keep in mind all supplements have unique positive characteristics or conflicting concerns that should be considered.
Always speak with your doctor about using supplements.
How do you know which supplements are better than others? What are the benefits of omega-3 supplements? Next week I continue the supplement talk to give you the answers you want to know.

About the author

Valerie Goldstein

Valerie raises the bar for health and nutrition know how with unconventional expertise and unconditional support for wellness.