By Nurse Mark
Whenever we publish an article about supplements we invariably get questions and challenges to our statements and information. We think that’s a good thing – it proves that our HealthBeat News readers are a sharp bunch.
When it comes to vitamins and supplements there are a lot of opinions out there – everything from “vitamins are worthless; they’ll just give you expensive urine,” to “you can get everything you need from a healthy diet,” to “megadose vitamins will cure all illnesses.”
We believe that the truth resides somewhere between these two extremes and that no, you cannot “get everything you need’ from a healthy diet – since it is almost impossible to find and follow a healthy diet these days, given the sorry state of our food supply, and given the stresses of our modern lives that deplete us of many essential nutrients more quickly than our ancestors were depleted.
Most of our readers recognize that, too, which is why they are our readers – they are seeking solid, reliable information they can use to protect and improve their health.
So it is both natural and good that our readers like to cross-check our information with other sources.
One of the sources we hear about often is a company called "ConsumerLab.com", a company that holds itself out as an impartial judge of what is good and bad in the supplement industry. They promote themselves as being above reproach and beyond outside corporate influence because they accept no advertising. An
d impartial evaluation is good, right? Just like the “Consumer Reports” that they model themselves after, Consumer Lab says they derive income through the "subscriptions” and “reports" they sell to people like you and me.
And they must be really good, right? After all, the mighty Dr. Oz has had them on his show, and that is a Really Big Deal.
Let’s take a closer look at Comsumer Lab.
First off, Consumer Lab is NOT a laboratory service. They do not do their own testing. They use outside labs for testing, and they won’t identify the labs they use and don’t tell us anything about their auditing of those labs for quality. Hmmm.
How does Consumer Lab decide what supplements to test? They contact dietary supplement makers and ask them to enroll in a “voluntary” testing program for a fee. We don’t know for sure how much as they won’t disclose their fees, but we heard of one company that was charged over $4,000 to test a single product. Companies that pay the fee are guaranteed that if one of their products passes the testing under their “Voluntary Certification Program,” they will be listed on the Consumer Labs website and may carry the “CL Seal of Approval.” If the product fails testing, the product will never be identified publicly because the results are “proprietary to the manufacturer”!
On the other hand, companies that do not agree to pay risk having their products tested anyway through the CL “product review program.” If they “fail” the testing, negative results will be publicized on ConsumerLab.com’s website and in the media, with complete details for sale in CL’s Product Review Technical Reports.
Doesn’t this sound a little bit like, “Pay up, and you won’t have to worry about the results, good or bad. Don’t pay up, and you might get some bad publicity…”?
Does it remind you of “protection” rackets?
Well then, what’s the point of all this? Is Consumer Labs bad? No, not necessarily. Do we mistrust them? No and yes. We take their “reports” with not one but two grains of salt. The point is that you need to be aware of what influences what you read and trust.
You also need to be very careful when accepting editorial writings as fact. What is the research used to back up the article? Are there references offered for you to check? Do the references offered really substantiate the "facts" of the article? Do the studies quoted refer to clinical human studies, lab rat studies, Petri dish experiments, or armchair theorizing?
We recently wrote about Vitamin D for prostate and other cancers. That prompted one of our readers to send us this question:
“Consumer Lab calls blood levels of 20 ng/ml vit. D sufficient, 25-35 perhaps beneficial, but then says to NOT go over 39 ng/ml…?”
Dr. Myatt was familiar with the CL article about Vitamin D and replied:
Double Check Everything, Trust Nobody… Not Even Me…
The CR article and cited study didn’t say over 39 was problematic, it said in one study they didn’t find benefit. But there are numerous studies that we cite in our Vit D paper that show positive benefit from the levels I put forth as optimal. We always provide the medical references so you can do your own due diligence.
I stand by my recommendations.
The moral of this story? Always check the references yourself – and be sure that you understand exactly what those references are saying. Even more important, make sure you know and trust WHO is saying them.
Posted in Health Questions, Opinion | No Comments »