An article in The Herald on May 20th, 2007 ran with the headline: “Multi-vitamin pills linked to higher risk of prostate cancer.” Here’s the first sentence of that article: “Taking too many vitamin supplements can increase the risk of deadly prostate cancer, new research suggests.”
Did this article frighten me? No.
What is a Multi-Vitamin?
The term “multi-vitamin” is too general a term to have any meaning for me. For ten years, I provided executive coaching and business consulting services to a company that manufactures nutritional supplements. (This post isn’t an advertisement for this company and I’m not including in this article the company or product brand names.) I consulted in many areas, including day-to-day operations. The company’s mission and top priority was to help people improve their health. Profit was never placed above positively contributing to the wellness of their customers.
Profits Over People
I was surprised to learn that the company could easily have compromised on their formulations, raw ingredients, type of capsules used, manufacturing processes (for example, too much heat can kill live ingredients), quality control testing, and freshness. If they had put profits over people, a product that cost them $25.00 to create could have been produced for around $5.00. The label wouldn’t have changed much, most consumers wouldn’t have known the difference prior to purchase, the company would have made much higher profits, and people would have been helped far less.
But this company wasn’t willing to make junk products and rip people off. They didn’t add unnecessary flow agents, artificial colors, useless fillers, preservatives, sugars, starches, anything.
They ran smaller batches, which cost them more. Products didn’t lose their potency by sitting in warehouse shelves too long.
Whenever possible, they would use fresh wild-crafted herbs (herbs harvested in their natural environment by hand) instead of stale low-grade factory-farmed ingredients.
Instead of just ordering the standard product formulations (very common in the supplement industry), they contracted with a true product formulation genius. Why go to the trouble and expense? Because only master formulators understand how to select and synergize ingredients for maximum benefit.
Their products take much longer to manufacture, and cost them much more. Even though their profit markup is conservative, the retail prices are higher. Sometimes they run out of product, since some of the high-quality and uncommon herbs, vitamins, minerals, etc. are hard to find. The low-quality junk is easy to find, but they won’t compromise on their customer’s health.
Again, this post isn’t an advertisement for the company. I’m explaining why the term “multi-vitamin” is meaningless to me. I haven’t taken a mass market “multi-vitamin” in over twenty years. I buy only the very best I can find, regardless of the price. My health is important to me, so I invest in myself.
The Dark Side of Science
I don’t trust all “scientific studies” as representing impartial truth. Who funded the study? Do they have a money-making agenda?
The big pharmaceutical companies are desperate to get their share of the hugely-profitable alternative health industry. All science isn’t good science. Some scientists are greedy and have no interest in impartially seeking the truth. If you have the money, it’s relatively easy to bias studies toward making a product look good (or bad).
Experiment Design and Quality
Beyond integrity, what about the experimental quality of the various studies. Was the emotional state of the participants included? What about their environments? (Environmental toxins are a major part of cancer risk.) What about their diets? (Were the people with the higher cancer occurrence poisoning themselves with soft drinks and other toxic fast foods?). Most importantly, what kind of “multi-vitamins” where the people studied consuming? The usual junk-quality products that I wouldn’t touch?
Now let’s talk about language. I see the first sentence of the article as a dangerous hypnotic suggestion: “Taking too many vitamin supplements can increase the risk of deadly prostate cancer, new research suggests.” Notice the word “can” and think about how it makes you feel. Think about the power the word “cancer” has gathered over the years. And think of the (often undeserved) authority in the phrase “new research.” Scientists are not gods. Some research is unbiased and useful. Other research is purely greed-based and designed to deceive.
The Best Multi-Vitamins are Concentrated Foods
Personally, my “multi-vitamin” consists of a number of concentrated foods, not cheap junk ingredients that have been thrown together for the lowest cost to make a buck. A lot of that food comes in the form of freeze-dried green SuperFoods that include young cereal grasses such as wheat, barley, oats, and alfalfa, as well as spirulina, chlorella, kelp, and other sea vegetables. And every day I eat lots of fresh raw fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome real foods. I also pop some nutritional supplement pills, but all are best quality I can find, and all of them are concentrated food.
Comes Down to Tangible Personal Results
These products and this way of living have so obviously changed my life for the better, I’m not about to let articles like the one that appeared in The Herald on May 20th, 2007 create unnecessary fear and knock me off course.
The Importance of Honest Science
Am I saying I ignore all published studies? No, not at all. Some scientists and the organizations that support them have the pure aim of seeking the truth. Some “natural” products can be dangerous. Safety is important. Science is an incredibly useful tool. The more real and honest studies, the better.
Find True Experts Whose Advice You Can Trust
How do I choose which studies to believe? I don’t. I rely on highly-trained experts I’ve learned to trust, like Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Andrew Weil, and the consulting Naturopathic Doctor here at HealthyNewAge.com, Dr. Leia Melead. And I highly prefer professionals who are trained in both standard medicine and alternative-complementary holistic medicine.
I guess if I were taking low-quality mass market vitamins, this report in The Herald might have concerned me a little. But I’m not, so it didn’t. Nutrition Supplements Including Best Herbal Formulas for Your Health