Are The Nutritional Supplements You Take Effective?
The global supplement market is $82 billion, and the US supplement industry contributes $37 billion to that number. Consumers spend billions on dietary supplements trusting in their beneficial effects. Faced with countless options and a worldwide market, choosing supplements can be overwhelming. Rarely are consumers supplied with sufficient scientific information to base their decisions on and usually they only have a company’s marketing materials. Dr. Rath Research Institute conducts academic research in the area of natural health and provides a scientific basis for the development of unique synergy based micronutrient combinations.
Most popular supplements are either individual components such as vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, and individual plant extracts, or they are a random combination of micronutrients.
The majority of formulas that contain multiple nutrients and plant extracts do not clearly state the criteria for their ingredient selection. Little attention is paid to their combination in varied doses, whether such combinations work together, or if some ingredients may offset the action of others within the body. If there are specific claims, they may often be supported by general statements from published research conducted by others and related to individual ingredients instead of the ingredient combination. The ultimate focus is on income from consumers rather than the consumer’s health.
Therefore, we decided to test and compare the efficacy of different nutritional supplements by examining how they function at the level of cells, which is the basic level of defining our body’s health and its ability to combat disease. Some of the micronutrient combinations tested were identified at our institute. Others were popular high-end combinations available in Europe and the US*. Since those combinations contain antioxidant components and some of them claim to have antioxidant properties, we used different methods to test how effective they are in protecting cells against oxidative damage. Oxidative damage can lead to several chronic diseases including accelerated aging, arthritis, inflammatory diseases, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
We found that some of the marketed combinations that contained high amounts of vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds did not show any recordable antioxidant properties, and could not provide effective protection to cells when exposed to free radical damage. This may have been due to either the very low daily doses recommended by the manufacturer, the inferior quality of the raw ingredients, or even counter reactions between the ingredients present in the formulas.
As opposed to this, the micronutrient combinations identified by us demonstrated very high antioxidant properties and cellular protection. These synergy-based micronutrient combinations provided greater protection of different types of human cells against H2O2 toxicity, leaving more viable and metabolically recovering cells. A comparative evaluation showed that synergistic micronutrient combination can effectively stimulate healthy cell growth by 40-50% while some of the combinations of others resulted in slower cell growth.
We encourage all consumers of nutritional supplements to demand that the manufacturers provide the scientific proof for the efficacy of their supplements. Consumers should make informed decisions after reading the scientific proof and understanding the efficacy of the supplements they choose to benefit their health and wellbeing.
*M Chatterjee, et al., Journal of Cellular Medicine and Natural Health, 2016