Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's wrong with 'natural' suppplements?

I got a lot of reaction to today's post: Bad Synthetic Vitamins?

Some folks had a similar point of view, some weren't sure and few were upset.

The biggest issue for some of my readers: They are reps for companies that sell "natural" products. Isn't that the same as whole-food-based? So why the big fuss?

Err, natural is not the same as whole food based.

There is no FDA definition of 'natural'. So all kinds of products can be labeled 'natural' and still be useless or harmful for consumers. What's worse, the FDA will leave it undefined for the time being. This is a problem for everyone using the term to label their products:

"A lack of a uniform approach to the [natural] term has resulted in inconsistent product claims, consumer confusion, and even lawsuits against food companies accused of misleading consumers." See here.

The trouble with 'natural' is this, says Dr. Heidi: A company can start with a natural source, like a plant, then heat it so much that the enzymes die, or add chemicals or other artificial ingredients, and they can still call it natural. That's why the word has no meaning.


4 comments: said...

Supplements only have to be 10% natural in order to legally make this claim. That's why more than 95% of all vitamins sold today are synthetic.


Eat Well. Live Well.

QueensMary said...

Kim you are correct. dog pooh is perfectly natural. but who wants to eat that?

Sue said...

Dr. Heidi's argument against "natural" can also be made against "whole food based". It is how the material is processed that determines its quality.

Besides, saying "whole food based" is a sort of like "a little bit pregnant". It either is whole food or it isn't. And you cannot put whole food in a pill.

The real point is that people are coining phrases for marketing purposes in order to appear "one up" on the competition.

And there is a lot of absurdity being promoted in the meantime. I heard someone say recently that "if it says "mg" on the label, it is synthetic". That reveals a complete ignorance of the fact that any substance can be analyzed to determine how many "mg" there are of a given compound in that substance. That has nothing to do with the source of the substance -- only its composition.

It is high time people stopped spreading ignorance as truth related to health topics and specifically nutrition and supplement quality.

Sandy Halliday said...

What gets me is the number of so called natural personal products contain synthetic parabens of some sort. When I complained to one company I was told that it was "natural" because it is also made in the body! Do they really think they can get away with this?