The results are in from the 2017 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements conducted by the nonprofit Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).1 Today, I’m sharing some of the CRN’s findings, as well as some information no one else will tell you.
The good news
Three-quarters of U.S. adults take supplements.
Given the generally poor state of diet and nutrition among most Americans, it’s encouraging that supplement use continues to increase.
The CRN report shows that 76 percent of American adults took dietary supplements in 2017—up five percent from the prior year.
Vitamins, minerals, and herbs lead the way.
Not surprisingly, vitamins and minerals are the most commonly consumed supplements, with 75 percent of the CRN survey respondents saying they’ve taken supplement forms of these nutrients over the past year.
And almost one-third (29 percent) of respondents take botanical/herbal supplements—many of which I recommend throughout this issue.
Our needs for improvement
People are taking powerhouse nutrients… but not enough people.
In terms of the most popular specific nutrients consumed, the news reveals a step in the right direction.
Given the need for optimal levels of vitamins and minerals, the glass is half-full when it comes to the percentage of those taking the following:
• vitamin D (28 percent)
• vitamin C (24 percent)
• vitamin B complex (18 percent)
• omega-3 fatty acids (16 percent)
• magnesium (12 percent)
That’s a start, but studies on diet and disease prevention and reversal indicate that most Americans should be taking all of these supplements in light of deficient, insufficient, and suboptimal levels in most of the population—and the health benefits of optimal levels.
The vast majority of supplements users believe in the products they take.
Much of the dietary supplements industry has a lot of problems with its science (or lack of it), formulations, and marketing hype. Nonetheless, 87 percent of adults surveyed by CRN have confidence in the safety, quality, and effectiveness of dietary supplements overall.
Furthermore, 76 percent believe the supplement industry is trustworthy. These numbers are much higher than those who trust the medical profession—not to mention big pharma or the government, for that matter.
But sadly, this trust is misplaced. From what I’ve seen, and knowing what I know, I personally just can’t trust or recommend a dietary supplement unless I have formulated it myself. Of course, most doctors can’t do that.
The bad news
Most supplements users take multivitamins. Over half—56 percent—of supplement consumption consists of multivitamins, which are basically worthless.
As I’ve reported many times, there cannot possibly be the right doses, combinations, and formulations needed for your individual health housed in any little one-a-day pill.
Plus, the efficacy and potency of some multivitamin formulations consistently rank at the very bottom of industry surveys. No wonder they’re not doing any good.
What’s astounding is that mainstream scientists (who know next to nothing about human diet and nutrition) continue to use ineffective multivitamins in research on disease prevention and management. And they wonder why their results aren’t better…
Unfortunately, these are the studies that get trumpeted to doctors and consumers. Meanwhile, the studies using the RIGHT doses of vitamins and minerals consistently show benefits… but are rarely reported.
Junk supplements remain popular. Nearly a quarter (22 percent) of Americans inexplicably insist on taking useless “sports-nutrition” supplements.
And a surprising 15 percent use weight-loss supplements—which scientific studies consistently show are basically worthless.
Adults still think green tea is a godsend beverage—11 percent to be exact. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked at this statistic. After all, the hype for this mostly useless beverage is strong.
But as I reported in the April 2014 issue of Insiders’ Cures (“The sinister secrets swirling inside your teapot”), there are many problems with consuming green tea—including pesticides, artificial flavors, GMOs, and toxic packaging.
What’s more, you’d have to drink a bucket-full of green tea every day to get its weight-loss benefits. Meanwhile, rooibos or aspal (red tea) and coffee offer the same healthy constituents as green tea—plus many others. (For more info, search DrMicozzi.com using the keyword “aspal.”)
Too many people are taking supplements that are dangerous. Some misguided doctors say all nutrients should come from the diet. But that’s simply not feasible for most people. That said, there actually are several nutrients you really should get from your diet—and not from pills.
And that’s what concerns me most about the CRN data. There are worrisome levels of consumption of supplements that should come mainly from the diet, not from pills, including these key nutrients:
• calcium (20 percent)
• protein (17 percent)
• probiotics (12 percent)
• fiber (11 percent)
On page 7, I discuss new research showing why it’s important to get calcium from your diet rather than from supplements—and what happens if you get too much calcium (it’s not good).
Protein also needs to come from a balanced diet that includes dairy, meat, seafood, and legumes (beans). Protein powders can be downright deadly—in fact, during my time as a consulting forensic Medical Examiner, I once investigated a case of fatal protein-powder poisoning.
Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) are important for your microbiome as well, which studies are now showing influence almost every aspect of your health. But I believe the right approach is to support your naturally occurring probiotics with prebiotic foods like garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, oats, apples, and flaxseed—rather than take a probiotic supplement.
Why? Because I haven’t found a probiotic pill that is actually effective. However, I’m currently researching a new probiotic supplement formulation that appears to be active and beneficial, and I’ll be sure to let you know what I find.
Fiber is also a prebiotic (which feeds beneficial probiotic bacteria), and of course helps keep your digestive system regular. But fiber also needs to come from a balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and not from supplements.
That’s because people tend to overdo fiber supplements in misguided attempts to lose weight. But as I’ve written before, research shows that too much fiber can actually lead to cancer and type 2 diabetes. If you need to take fiber for a medical condition, your doctor will give you a prescription.
Finally, what your doctor probably won’t tell you…
Of those who do not take dietary supplements, 45 percent said they would consider taking them if a doctor recommended it.
Of course, that sounds all well and good… but don’t hold your breath.
While more doctors are recommending vitamin D, now given the epidemic proportions of this deficiency, they also still push dangerous calcium and iron pills. Not to mention a boat load of dangerous drugs—when science shows the right dietary supplements would be a much better choice for many patients.
Medicine is an art and a science. But sadly, the science of human diet and nutrition is often not adequately covered in medical training (I’ll tell you more about that in next month’s Insiders’ Cures)—and practicing physicians are still barraged by misleading headlines about vitamin D and other nutrients. That’s why the art of medicine consists of filling the gaps in scientific knowledge with clinical judgment and good intentions about what is best for each individual patient.
Fortunately, more and more studies are showing the importance of nutritional supplements for both prevention and treatment of disease. Not surprisingly for natural approaches, they are often one and the same. Unlike some doctors, I rely on this new science when it comes to nutrition and health, and so can you.
So I advise you start the new year by checking what’s in both your kitchen and medicine cabinets. You need nutritious foods and the right supplements to help keep your health optimum in 2018… and beyond.
My supplement recommendations for optimum health in 2018—and beyond
Among the reasons consumers listed in the CRN survey for taking supplements, 46 percent cited general health and wellness, and 30 percent said to fill nutritional gaps in their diets.
Others mentioned specific concerns: bone health (23 percent), immune health (24 percent), heart health (22 percent), and healthy aging (21 percent).
Heart health is, of course, the number one health issue—especially as you get older. Along with B vitamins and omega-3s, I also recommend the following to keep your heart at peak performance:
• vitamins D3 (10,000 IU per day and K2 (150 mcg per day)
• magnesium (to find the right form for you—and which to avoid—read my Daily Dispatch titled, “Never take these three forms of magnesium”)
• L-carnitine (500 mg)
• betaine (500 mg)
• coenzyme Q10 (200 mg)
To learn about all of the natural approaches for preventing and reversing heart disease, refer to my newly-released Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. (To learn more or to enroll today, call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV3U102.
Immune health should be supported daily. However, there are several supplements that should only be taken when a cold or flu is coming on, to reduce the duration and severity. I recommend combining echinacea, elderberry, and goldenseal into a tea and drinking it throughout the day, with lemon or honey to taste. You can also take up to 100 mg a day of zinc acetate lozenges.
For long-term balancing of the immune system, I recommend:
• vitamins C (250 mg twice per day, D3 (10,000 IU per day), and E (50 mg daily)
• selenium (100 mcg a day)
• ginger and turmeric (as foods rather than supplements)
You also don’t want chronic inflammation (overstimulation of the immune system), which contributes to cancer, heart disease, obesity, and metabolic disorders. A high-quality B vitamin complex, along with 1 to 2 grams of omega-3s per day, is a potent way to prevent chronic inflammation.
Bone health is increasingly important as you age, and I suspect the calcium supplements users fall into the category. But they should be taking the following:
• vitamins C (250 mg twice a day)
• vitamin D3 (10,000 IU daily),
• magnesium (400 mg daily)
Additionally, you should be getting calcium from your diet (particularly dairy and leafy greens).