Yesterday, a comment was posted on my facebook page as follows:
Did you know that 95% of our vitamins and minerals are chemically produced and synthetic, made from coal tar and petroleum? Only 1% of people taking them know this yet we are putting these toxic substances in our families!
I’ll be the first to agree that much of what is marketed to us as ‘supplements’ is pretty ordinary in terms of quality and potency. And who knows, maybe some of them are dangerous as this comment suggests. I personally spent much time and money on poor quality supplements before my research for Gryffin went into full steam (and I considered myself an informed consumer even then). I am now very cautious about what I will give to my family.
After seeing the comment on my facebook, I sent our Nutritionist, Sita an email asking her to put together a piece about supplements – their quality and whether or not they contain dangerous synthetics. Sita replied with a statement from Metagenics whose supplements we love in our family.
Metagenics is the ‘practitioner only’ products division of Health World Limited – the Australian and New Zealand leader in research and development of specialised nutritional supplements for healthcare professionals.
Here is their reply:
Thank you for your enquiry about the use of synthetic vitamins in our products. We do use a combination of natural and synthetically derived ingredients in our products, our oral supplements do not contain any coal tar or petroleum derivatives. We only use ingredients that are listed with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) that have a verifiable safety and effectiveness profile.
Reasons why a synthetic ingredient may be used include the following:
1. Only type available within the TGA listing to comply with their regulations
2. Stability- would be similar to that of fruit and vegies, they would have a very short shelf life,
3. Lower allergy profile, when derived from natural sources there may be residual proteins left that cause allergies
4. Environmental sustainability- using naturally sourced ingredients would require extremely large volumes of starting ingredients, for example an average egg contains 2mg of B12, to create one 1000mg tablet we would need 500 eggs which leave a very large environmental footprint to get the amount required for large scale production.
5. Harder to extract- as you are aware, even picking, storing and cooking our food easily destroys the nutrients, therefore it would be a very hard (and expensive) extraction process without damaging the nutrients.
6. Cost- to use all natural ingredients, this would significantly increase the cost of supplements (basically they would be unaffordable for the majority of people), especially where there are multiple ingredients.
In addition I would also mention that if your patient specifically wants a totally natural supplement, their best option would be spirulina. The challenge associated with using this is that each batch varies in it’s nutrient profile and if you are wanting to supplement with specific nutrients these are not quantified as it is a food supplement.
So whilst this answer related entirely to Metagenics products, it does give some insight into the reasons why.
*photo courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul