You thought those jars and bottles of pills in your local health store were good for you? Think again, says Brian Clement.

Today’s distaste for Western medicine has moved the public in the direction of natural healthcare. Most newcomers innocently perceive the purveyors of natural remedies to be the good guys, but unfortunately this sweet and neat storybook portrayal is far from true. Not to say there aren’t good guys that may be cherry picked from the world of traditional medicine, but unfortunately many of the cherries have rotted on the tree.

The health food industry and its aligned retail storefronts are where natural food enthusiasts congregate. These green supermarkets make most of their profits in the aisles where the bottles glisten under the fluorescent lights. One after another, the writing jumps out at the shopper – “natural” this and “natural” that.

In reality, the majority of so-called natural supplements are made in chemical laboratories and factories and have no more to do with nature than plastic flowers. This is only the beginning of the story, since when one consumes such isolated elemental misfits the immune system kicks into gear and tries to push these unwanted foes out of the system.

The scientifically valid description is a far cry from what the minimum-wage employees in the supplements section of your local health store describe. When one discovers that the grandest of profits are achieved via the sales of these suspicious bottles, there is no question as to why such fraud is prevalent.

Now in my fourth decade of work as a nutritional scientist, I have finally gathered together overwhelming and undeniable evidence to show that as necessary as nutrient supplementation is today for our malnourished humanity, we are being conned, not fed.

I was not surprised to find, during my investigations, that the vast majority of these magic pills were directly or indirectly created by the pharmaceutical industry. Needless to say, the same drive for profit superseded all other considerations when it came to these purported natural offerings.

The first nutrient was isolated and discovered in 1905 by British scientist Dr William Fletcher. One by one, the repertoire that we now call “essential vitamins and minerals”, were extracted from nature and shortly after synthesized by man.

Sadly, when the laboratory-created variety versus the whole food type proved to be far less expensive to produce it became the standard. This led to a flawed foundation that practically all of healthcare has fallen for. There have been genuine critics of chemical supplement consumption but, as always, the mega profits and their loud and effective advertising dollars drowned out the voice of reason.

Rancid fish oil can be sold as a good source of the essential omega-3 fatty acids, when it is understood to be a carcinogen to any serious nutritionist. I consider this a crime. When essential calcium comes in the form of ground-up oyster shells or chalk, that is an insult. When 98% of vitamin C is ascorbic acid, only one-eighth of the true whole food variety, so missing seven-eighths of its complete benefits, in my book it’s fraud. Additionally, Dr. Arthur Robinson of The Linus Pauling Foundation revealed that when consumed in high doses, long term, it weakens the immune system.

The majority of research into nutritional supplementation has been paid for lock, stock and barrel by the companies who produce these chemical concoctions. The handful of studies that have looked at the real effect on human health report that synthetic supplements weaken the body and increase the potential for a wide variety of disease.

I applaud those companies that stand shoulder to shoulder with nature, and produce good, pure, health-enhancing nutrients in a bottle. Do not confuse these words and think that all vitamin and mineral supplements are bad. But do realize that at least 90% are in that category.

I hope that those of you reading these words are as outraged as I have been in discovering this truth. You can help to change it with the strength of your purchasing power by only buying truly whole food nutrient supplements from non-processed sources.

About the Author

Brian Clement PhD, NMD, LN, is director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. Dr Clement, who has graduate degrees in both nutritional science and naturopathic medicine, has spent three decades researching nutrition and is the author of six books.

This article is based on his book, Supplements Exposed: The truth they don’t want you to know about vitamins, minerals and their effects on health.

This article appeared in the Winter 2009 issue of Get Fresh! magazine.