5 Things You absolutely Must Know before purchasing any dietary supplement


The FDA doesn't have enough resources to keep supplement companies honest or their products pure.

The FDA does regulate nutritional supplements (kinda).

The supplement industry has long been defined and regulated by the FDA under two statutes of federal legislation: the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

Before you breathe a sigh of relief, you need to know there are important problems with how they regulate it:

  • Of those inspected, 70% of supplement firms were cited for violating regulations intended to ensure products are safe and contain the ingredients that are listed on the labels.
  • The FDA isn't responsible for proving any product is safe, pure, effective, or even meets label claims before you buy it.
  • Here's a "fun" example to bring this into perspective: the government requires barbers and hair dressers to be licensed and thus approves their ability to cut your hair before you give them money, right? In the world of supplements, anyone can manufacture, test, and/or sell supplements without a licence or without any qualifying credentials whatsoever.

Because of loose and unenforced regulations...

You can (and likely do) purchase products that are counterfeit, laden with heavy metals, tainted with pesticides and toxic mold, or processed with toxic chemicals with no consequence until enough people get sick and report it.

Get ready. You're not going to like this. The unpleasant truth is that supplement companies of all sizes sell us what we would never buy if we knew what was really inside the capsule.

How common is this, you ask?

Obscenely common. For example, in one study of 12 companies tested:

  • Most (59%) of the products tested contained DNA from plant species not listed on the labels.
  • One-third also contained contaminants and or fillers not listed on the label and some of the contaminants found pose serious health risks to consumers.
  • Product substitution (counterfeit herbs) appeared in 30/44 of the products tested.
  • 3 of the 12 companies sold products for which no ingredients could be recognized by testing.
  • Leaving only 2 of the 12 companies tested selling authentic products without substitutions, contaminants, or fillers.

You cannot rely on government regulators to keep supplement companies honest or their products pure.

2. The vast majority of natural SUPPLEMENTS sold are not compleTely natural

We assume they’re all natural because we buy them in health food stores.

The vast majority of supplemental vitamins, for example, are artificial.

If you take a multivitamin of any kind, go grab it now and read the Supplement Facts label. Odds are, yours may look something like this:

Do you see chemical sounding names in parenthesis next to the words "vitamin"? Look for words like "ascorbic acid" and "pyridoxine hydrochloride." Those are artificial vitamins created in a factory, made from and processed with toxic chemicals.

An honest label would read like this...

If that label had the actual ingredients for what the vitamins are made of, it would read like this:

Ingredients: coal tar derivatives, hydrochloric acid, acetonitrole with ammonia, 3-cyanopyridine, condensed isobutyraldehyde with formaldehyde, petroleum ester, phytin hydrolyzed with calcium hydroxide and sulfuric acid, acetylene, formaldehyde, cobalt reacted with cyanide, GMO corn dextrose processed with GMO bacteria and acetone (etc.)...

The truth is, even though they're labeled "vitamins," they're actually closer to pharmaceutical drugs than they are to nutrients.

The evidence is clear: artificial "vitamins" are actually known to harm your health and have in fact never been clinically demonstrated to improve your health. In fact to the contrary, artificial vitamins can increase your chances of developing prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease and cancer in women, heart-disease and death, and even elevate the risk of autism in yet-to-be-born children...

“If it's a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant (factory), don't.” - Michael Pollan

What about Fish Oil?

Fish oil comes from fish, so it's natural, right? Well, most fish oil is refined and stabilized in order for it to sit outside of refrigeration for years without going rancid. How do they preserve it? The majority of fish oil products are heavily processed, boiled, and treated with industrial solvents, transforming them into semi-synthetic oils: a man-made combination of GMO corn ethanol and EPA/DHA. It's a process called "molecular distillation" and though it cleanses the oil of heavy metals and PCBs, these highly processed fish oils can negatively affect your health. However, eating contaminant-free oily fish is well researched to affect your health positively.

Even though fish oil is typically a heavily processed industrial food, fish oil supplements continually fail to pass important markers for rancidity. One study showed, of 32 fish oils tested, 83% failed acceptable oxidation scores. Rancid oil means poor cellular health in your body.

What about Herbs?

Like EPA and DHA in fish oil, herbs are often 'extracted' using industrial solvents in order to produce concentrated supplements. Think of an extract like brewing tea - the healthy compounds are extracted from the plant into the water and the tea leaves are thrown away. The same is done with commercial herbal extracts, except replace the water with toxic industrial solvents. These extraction chemicals damage livers, kidneys, nervous systems, and cause cancer. Chemical extractions are cheaper and more powerful than natural ones, which is why most companies do it.

For example, one test done on Milk Thistle extract found these 30 hidden toxic chemicals: 1) 2-Methylbutane 2) Pentane 3) 2,2-Dimethylbutane 4) Acetone 5) 2,3-Dimethylbutane 6) 2-Methylpentane 7) Cyclopentane 8) 3-Methylpentane 9) Hexane 10) 2,2-Dimethylpentane 11) 2,4-Dimethylpentane 12) Ethylcyclobutane 13) 2,2,3-Trimethylbutane 14) 2,4-Dimethyl-1-pentane 15) 3,3-Dimethylpentane 16) 1-Methylcyclopentane 17) 2-Methylhexane 18) Cyclohexane 19) 2,3-Dimethylpentane 20) 3-Methylhexane 21) 1,1-Dimethylcyclopentane 22) 3-Ethylpentane and Benzene coelution 23) 5-Methyl-1-heptene 24) cis-1,3-Dimethylcyclopentane 25) trans-1,3-Dimethylcyclopentane 26) Heptane 27) 2-Methyl-2-hexene 28) Methylcyclohexane 29) Toluene 30) 4-Methyl-3pentane-2-one

The FDA doesn't require any supplement firms to test for residual solvents, which means most brands don't test for them, which leaves you exposed to serious risks.

You cannot assume supplements are natural or toxin-free just because you buy them in a health food store, aisle or site.

3. a large portion of supplements are fake or contaminated

An estimated 70% of these products make it to store shelves for you to buy.

How common a problem is counterfeit, adulterated, and contaminated products?

A team of researchers set out to test 30 commonly used herbal products for the presence of mold. They identified mold in 90% of the samples, and in 70% of the samples the mold levels exceeded acceptable levels. Harmful molds were identified in around 43% of the samples, reports Medical News Today.

“There is a major problem in the global herb and dietary supplements industry in which there appears to be a persistent availability of adulterated herbs, herbal extracts, essential oils, and other plant-derived dietary ingredients,” said American Botanical Council's Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal.

"Federal inspections of companies that make dietary supplements reveal serious and widespread manufacturing problems in a multi-billion dollar industry that sells products consumed by half of all Americans," reports The Chicago Tribune.

Nearly all of the herbal dietary supplements tested in a Congressional investigation contained trace amounts of lead and other contaminants. 16 of the 40 supplements tested contained pesticide residues that appeared to exceed legal limits, reported The New York Times.

"In fact, an estimated 70-90% of Dietary Supplement Manufacturers do not test," reports New Chapter's Science & Innovation Team.

Herbal products and botanical ingredients in general are highly suspect.

These 20 herbs are on The American Botanical Council's "known or suspected adulterated botanicals" list: Cranberry, Black Cohosh, Echinacea, Goldenseal, Saw Palmetto, Aloe, Ginkgo, Pomegranate, Bilberry, Skullcap, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Arnica, Maca, Tea Tree, Grapeseed Extract, Chaste Tree Berry, Valerian Root, and St. John's Wort.

The propensity for adulteration of ginkgo, for example, is “extremely high”—as high as 60 percent to 70 percent of products on shelves, according to Roy Upton, Executive Director of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.

With saw palmetto [...] there’s up to 60 percent or 70 percent potential for adulteration, says Roy Upton.

A study at Rutgers University tested 21 commercial grapeseed extract products for identity. Of those 21, NINE products contained peanut skin extract, not grapeseed extract.

Of 37 commercial St. Johns Wort supplements tested, four in ten contained synthetic dyes and/or counterfeit herbs.

Over 1000 supplements have been found to contain prescription or experimental drugs - Consumer Reports

You can safely assume most supplements are not safe.

4. Unethical marketing statements intentionally lead to incorrect conclusions about a product

It may seem unfair and unfortunate, but it's not illegal.

From food or not from food?

Because many supplement companies falsely market their products as "food-based" rather than spend the extra money to actually make them food-based, shopping for natural supplements can be very confusing.

Imagine you are at the store to buy a vitamin. You pull the product shown below off the shelf and read the label. Would you say the vitamins in this product are from food or are they artificially sourced?

If you answered "from food," guess again.

See those chemical names in parentheses, like "ascorbic acid" and "pyridoxine HCL"? Those aren't foods, they're synthetic vitamin-like chemicals called USP isolates.

Now see what a multivitamin supplement facts panel that sources its nutrients from food looks like:

The parentheses on this facts panel are foods, not chemicals.

Bonus fact: Folic Acid is an artificial vitamin that has been found to increase your odds of developing colon, lung, prostate and other cancers. That's a high price to pay for cheap vitamins.

A supplement can claim to be natural or raw or whole food when it isn't.

Let's return to that store shelf and this time you are after some calcium. You read the container to learn more. Do the words lead you to believe the calcium comes from food?

Is this calcium actually food-based? No. This calcium is mined industrially from rock (limestone) and synthetically combined with chemicals. Frustrating, right?

There's a little food in it, but the calcium doesn't come from that food. The 20mg of added food ingredient (a quantity the size of your pinky-nail) is what permits Rainbow Light to label this product "food-based."

Calcium carbonate is just chalk - like the kind used on chalkboards. Calcium Amino Acid Chelate is that same chalk calcium synthetically combined with a synthetic amino acid and isn't found anywhere in nature. Calcium Citrate-Malate is the same, but with added citric & malic acids.

Zero of the nutrients listed are from food, yet they can be marketed as "food-based."

Misleading advertising is a game to marketers but is a danger to those of us who care about our health.

Bonus fact: chalk-based calcium formulas like this one are known to cause heart disease.

5. The people who you buy supplements from don't usually know about these problems with their industry

Supplement retail staff are compromised when the companies with things to hide are the ones training them.

Health food store clerks, for example, are trained by the very industry that has a lot to hide from you.

With an estimated 70-90% of dietary supplement manufacturers not properly testing their products, you need an informed gatekeeper to help you navigate the perils of a lightly regulated supplements industry. We often look to health food store personnel, internet health gurus, and health care professionals to help us make informed supplement decisions, but if their information comes from the companies deceiving us, how can we trust their recommendations?

Health food store personnel don't have to hold any degrees or certifications to recommend supplement regimens, and the majority of their product expertise comes from sales-focused, brand-sponsored trainings. This creates a commercial bias that puts your health at risk.

Major vitamin retailers and grocery stores do not require Certificates of Analysis (test results that are only way to prove a product is safe) in order to sell products to you, which makes you vulnerable to the problems explored in this presentation.

If you shop online for your supplements, you are even less protected.

Certificates of Analysis are the closest thing to a legitimate answer to the question: What's inside the bottle? The gold-standard certificates are third-party tests by an independent lab, removed from the commercial bias of the supplement distributor.

Chiropractors, acupuncturists, and naturopaths often recommend supplements.

They typically work with a "professional line" of products that can typically only be purchased in their office or from their website. But are these products superior in quality to those found in supplement stores?

With very few exceptions, professional brands use the same suppliers of raw materials as the rest of the supplements industry. Besides formulation differences, the only real difference is that their products are marketed to appear exclusive.

Independent tests run on professional lines indicate they have the same problems with contamination and adulteration. One study shows that all 28 samples of 90% curcumin turmeric extract products tested contained unfathomable levels of a dangerous carcinogen, 1-2 dichloroethane, including all professional grade products. Some were contaminated at levels 172,800% over legal limits, yet were available for purchase.

When a practitioner offers a single line of products, their objectivity is compromised and they have a conflict of interest. If you depend on products your practitioner recommends, ask to see a set of Certificates of Analysis.

in summary:

1. The supplements industry is regulated, but not in a way that protects your health.

2. The vast majority of natural products sold are not natural.

3. A large proportion of supplements are fake or contaminated.

4. Unethical marketing statements intentionally lead to incorrect conclusions about a product.

5. The people who you buy supplements from don't usually know about these problems with their industry.

with all these problems, should you abandon taking dietary supplements altogether?

You don't have to abandon taking supplements. Really. There are a handful of companies doing the right thing, manufacturing and testing quality products that can transform your health for the better. You just have to know who they are.

Until now, if you've taken dietary supplements, you've probably assumed they were mostly safe and effective. My wish in writing this document is that you will become more aware of what's really in the supplements you might be taking and act differently. To become a little less trusting and ask a few more questions of those who make the pills, powders, and liquids you rely on.

The supplements industry has incredible problems to overcome, but more and more, conscientious organizations are taking action to create better outcomes. Including supplement manufacturers - who go the extra mile to offer scientifically validated formulations and excellent quality control standards, but how do you know who to trust?

Some of these brands offer real food-based vitamins, unprocessed fish oils, and pure botanicals that match your ideas of 'natural.' These are brands that actually test their materials and offer consumers verifiable Certificates of Analysis upon demand. More and more consumers are starting to demand to know what's in their products before they take them. You are a part of that movement.

Developing relationships with supplement brands and labs is one way to obtain the information you need to make an informed choice.

You can begin investigating the industry, product by product, to find ones that match your natural values. You can request CofAs, learn how to interpret them, and make sound choices based on your research. Or you can save yourself time and consult with someone who has already done that work and stays in step with this evolving industry.

Self-medication requires self-education

i was a supplements industry insider.

I have been taking supplements for more than 12 years, and supplements have been the single most important thing I've done to erase the diseases that disrupted my life over 15 years ago. But when taking supplements actually started to make me ill again, I had to figure out why. My discoveries - spanning a decade & while working for 3 supplement manufacturers - shocked me, perhaps in the same way you feel right now, and I couldn't take another supplement without knowing what was really inside.

I desire to share what I have discovered with YOU.

That desire is what inspired me to become the supplements coach

I'm Cory Davis, the Supplements Coach, and I'm here to help you navigate your supplement choices safely.

To give you a supportive natural therapy for any health challenge you may be experiencing and keep you on the road to a healthier you.*

Thank you for reading! Please share.

Here are some testimonials of clients who have worked with me:

"During my first supplements consult with Cory, I lined my bottles up like a row of soldiers waiting for inspection. I have become an active student of nutrition and supplements because of some health issues, and the supplements I set before him had been carefully selected over time with the help of various health professionals and the team at my local health food store. I was not prepared for what happened next. One by one, Cory decoded the labels on the bottles and for the first time I saw the ugly secrets hidden inside most of my trusted supplements. His way of teaching is so generous and respectful, so I didn't feel stupid, just empowered. It was a fascinating and helpful afternoon that made me smarter and a more discriminating advocate for my own health. Cory is a very present resource I count on and value." - Jan Black, Salem OR

"Over the last 12 years, I've used a large number of supplements found both through my own research and in working with two naturopaths, as I struggled to overcome depression, fatigue, brain fog, gut distress, hypothyroidism, unbalanced hormones, and extensive stress that simply did not respond adequately to lifestyle changes, conventional medicine or other alternative therapies.

With my practitioners, we would try new things and phase out old. I've lost track of how many supplements I have tried, and how much money I spent, but at one point, my medication and supplements regimen alone cost me more than $300 a month. I had cut that down significantly over time, but still was spending about $100 a month and none of the protocols ever really helped in a significant way, nor across multiple issues.

That's now changed since working with Cory. I took his "Hack Your Depletion Assessment" and scheduled a Supplements Optimization consultation. I try to buy based on my values of organic, local, sustainable and ethical, but when we went through what I was taking, it was distressing to learn that a couple of my supplements were extracted with toxic solvents and others weren’t even natural.

After adjusting for that as well as adding in what I seemed to be missing based on the results of the Depletion assessment, he gave me an adjusted regimen. Two weeks later, with some minor tweaks, I am sleeping better and have more level energy through the day, clearer brain function and more consistently elevated mood, than I have in a very, very, very long time. The new regimen he put me on will save me approximately $30 a month, and I’m relieved to know I won’t inadvertently be hurting my health.

Cory is a wealth of knowledge on supplements, health and wellness, and has an ability to clearly explain and articulate the complex processes nutrients go through both in the production process as well as when assimilated into the body. If you value your health and want to optimize your wellness, you won’t regret hiring him!" - Sherrill Leverich, Portland OR

"Our family had the opportunity to consult with Cory about our nutritional supplements and diet. Each one of us came away from the consultation with an incredible amount of new information that has already changed how we eat and what products we purchase. We now better understand the labels and the ingredients. Cory is a wealth of knowledge and he shares it in an easy-to-understand way without the jargon and without judgement. I highly recommend Cory and count him as a highly valuable resource to our family. He has made us all much more conscious about what we put into our bodies. You will not be disappointed when you spend time with Cory!" - Jody, John, Riley & Allison

As a supplement user who has benefited for over a decade from Cory's knowledge and have been able to steer clear of harmful products and enjoy the benefits of actually natural supplement products, I am thrilled that other people will have Cory's support in making safe and healthy decisions about what to put into their bodies.

If you take supplements regularly or even occasionally, or if you buy supplements for your children, you need Cory. The industry is poorly regulated and is flooded with products that do more harm than good. Learn how to identify the good stuff and keep yourself and your family healthy! - Dara Horstkemper, Black Mountain NC.

If you want to learn more about this topic, or would like a source other than myself to validate what's being discussed in this eBook, please schedule an hour to watch this PBS documentary.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. My services are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Copyright 2017 - Supplements Coach LLC


Created with images by kerdkanno - "acupuncture alternative aroma"

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