By: Dr. Jonathan Tait – 1/26/2016

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “a health product is fraudulent if is deceptively promoted as being effective against a disease or health condition but has not been scientifically proven safe and effective for that purpose.”

Good news:

“I have created an all-natural miracle cure product to eliminate osteoarthritis in 30 days or less. It contains a proprietary blend of ingredients derived from Saguaro cactus flowers, prickly pear fruit, pea pod shells from Mesquite trees indigenous to Southwest Arizona, and pre-digested in the spring of each year by the delicate GI tract of javelina babies exclusive to a just-discovered, underground cave vortex in the northern canyons of Sedona protected by 100-pound cyclops Gila monsters.

This product is limited in quantity, and can only be harvested only once a year during the hibernation phase of the Gila monsters. The drug industry does not want this product to hit the mainstream as it will eliminate the need for pharmaceutical medications to treat arthritis.  We predict this year’s supply will sell out in 7 days. Order a 30-day supply for just $14.95! Better yet, order enough for the year, as you will not want to be without this quick fix to your arthritis.

And by the way, our internal research has found that it will help you lose weight without diet or exercise, have the energy of a 20 year-old, and cure cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. ”

You sold? Did I take it too far?

OK, I had some fun with that, but if you have seen some of the late-night infomercials or prevalent advertisements on the internet, this is not that far off the mark from what you may see.

And millions of people would buy that product! How is that possible and why do they do it?

The perfect formula of convincing (maybe slightly better than mine) sales writing or video’s, (paid) celebrity endorsements, customer testimonials, and most importantly – fostering some hope for a “miracle cure” for what they know to be a desperate target audience.

The person reading or watching may be thinking – “What do I have to lose by giving it a try? It is only $14.95.”

The company sells millions of bottles, the consumer has no benefit, and so goes the ever-growing supplement sales cycle. Next year they will have a “new more powerful formulation”, and you may just try it again, because, heck, maybe you just need a stronger product to have the effect you desire.

I know that you are much too smart to fall for these traps. In Part 1 of my “How to avoid supplement scams”, I listed several questions you must research and answer to know you are not getting scammed.

I am poking fun at this issue but it is not really a humorous issue. Every year there are reported deaths from supplement use. You have seen the stories in the news. A high school athlete trying to get stronger for their sport. Possibly an elderly patient duped into buying an infomercial product, and having unintended side effects or interactions with medications while trying to prevent disease and promote wellness.

An article published in 2011 in the Journal of the American Medical Association added to prior research that supplementing without justifiable cause may not only be harmful, but could increase risk of death.

Other studies previously have shown potential problems when taking Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and beta-carotene without sound reason and strategy.

Despite the research challenging how and why supplements should be used, the supplement sales machine continues to grow by the billions every year.

How do you know what you need?  Do you need it? What product should you buy? How much to take or for how long? Again, this can be a daunting task.

My suggestion. Find a knowledgeable healthcare provider or nutritionist qualified to assess your condition(s) and then build a strategic supplement pathway, as well as an exit strategy, to reduce your need for supplements over time.

After all, if we are using products for strategic clinical effect, than once you achieve a better state of balanced health and wellness, you should not need so many products to maintain your health, correct?

My treatment plans may utilize a few products to initiate healing or correction of deficiencies to optimize health. In time however, I aim to whittle down the list to a couple of products at most – with proven clinical effect and benefits – for your needs.

I strongly suggest that you seek some help for determining what supplements are right for you.

In the meantime I am going to share my formula to help identify if you are taking quality supplements or not:

  • Does the company maintain Current Good Manufacturing Process (CGMP) certification? This basically means they adhere to pharmaceutical level clean processing standards for production.
  • Does the company have information on internal quality and contaminant testing?
  • Does the company use third party, or independent, testing to verify internal tests of quality, safety, and bioavailability? There are several including NSF International, U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), Informed Choice, ConsumerLab, Banned Substances Control Group.
  • Have they performed any research on their products to demonstrate clinical effect? Was it conducted in-house or through a third-party or institution?
  • Do they contract with health care providers to distribute products, or are they freely available on third-party sites across the Wild, Wild West of the internet?

With the marketing dollars companies are spending to push products into your shopping cart, if you are not able or willing to do this level of research, you really have no way to know what you are putting in your body.

“Best” case scenario – you may lose a few bucks to a product that had no chance of helping.

Worst-case scenario – they may have unintended consequences for your health.

I do not want either scenario for you.

If you choose to take supplements:

  1. Follow the supplement quality criteria above
  2. Evaluate what you have on your shelf to simplify what you take and why you take it. (Taking it because your friend does may not be the best reason!)
  3. Find someone knowledgeable to help determine the right products for your health
  4. Do not take the gamble with your health. This is not the place to skimp on quality and deal shop.

I see patients weekly looking for bargain supplements. I do not sell low quality supplements because you absolutely get what you pay for.

I will not put my reputation or your health at stake “for a deal”.

If you are taking so many products that you have to look for the cheapest products in order to afford them, you are probably taking too many products.

If you cannot afford high quality supplements, you are probably better off not taking any.  Put that money towards higher quality real food first.

To your best health, not just a lighter wallet.

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