Some Thoughts About Nutritional Supplements

Even though Mother slipped quietly into the Great Beyond last year at the respected age of 94, she still gets mail from all sorts of places – 99% of them wanting her money. Yesterday our mailbox was graced with a 32-page full color glossy brochure (even had circles and arrows) from an outfit named Biowell, guaranteeing her a restored memory and the mind of a 20-year-old if only she would buy a 6-month supply of MentaFit Ultra at the special price of $269.95.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I happen to believe that nutritional supplementation is an essential part of good health, especially given the Standard American Diet (aptly abbreviated SAD) which is chock full of high-glycemic carbohydrates, fats, and very little actual nutrition which our cells are screaming for.

Unfortunately, the largely unregulated supplement industry is a hotbed of fraud, waste, and abuse, and there are precious few reputable companies out there.

MentaFit Ultra is a good example of the worst kind of nonsense. Let’s look at some of the claims found in this brochure:

  • A study showed that the product restored 70% of memory lost over 5 decades of aging
  • Losing your memory, forgetting things and disorientation are NOT normal, but the signs of an aging mind. The only way to get off this slippery slope is with MentaFit Ultra… the ONLY way to not be jeopardized by your fading mind any longer. However, if you choose to do nothing, you will likely suffer from a poor memory, poor recall, and poor mental energy in ever-increasing amounts as the problem gets worse. (Scare tactics)
  • The product was designed specifically to correct mental decline and is the ONLY treatment to help rejuvenate your mind, so you stay mentally healthy into your 80’s, 90’s, and even longer!
  • Biowell’s B Vitamin Complex (free with the maximum order) will help REVERSE BRAIN SHRINKAGE!
  • Just one single ingredient is so powerful it even helps exhausted ER doctors stay alert all night long!
  • A steel-trap memory can be yours… Call now and let it go to work in your brain, clearing out the rust, restoring sharpness, clarity, order and youthful vitality better than any other formula!
  • Will help you return your mental state back to your 20’s in only ONE HOUR!
  • You can restore up to 70% of your memory loss due to aging!

And on and on. Pages and pages of references to obscure and misinterpreted studies, pictures of doctors, hyped up claims about the individual ingredients (sage, rhodolia rosea, vinpocetine and Vitamin D3), and hype worthy of a used-car salesman. And a bottle of this relatively worthless stuff sells for $49.95, where it probably cost $3.95 to manufacture, all without any guarantee whatsoever of quality. Face it – if things like this worked even a fraction as well as they claimed, every doctor in the world would be prescribing it, and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia would be a thing of the past.

There’s a huge irony in targeting advertising materials like this at the elderly. They are losing mental acuity as the result of natural aging processes, and hence are more susceptible to slick advertising campaigns which promise outlandish results and offer false hopes, for the low low price of whatever. And Biowell is only one of hundreds of outfits out there who are dedicated to only one proposition: extracting money from unwary and vulnerable consumers. In the last 10 years of my mother’s life, I had to deal with dozens of companies who sold her things she didn’t want, didn’t need, couldn’t use, and didn’t understand – and most of it was (to be charitable) camel ejecta.

“Do not resent growing old, it is a privilege denied to many,” said someone wise. Aging is a normal part of life; every time our cells divide, our telomeres get a bit shorter, and thus far science has not found a way to reverse the process. All physical degeneration can be slowed, however, by making sure the body has ample supplies of the elements needed to keep our cells functioning at the top of their game – vitamins, minerals, co-factors and antioxidants – and sadly we don’t get everything we need from our daily diets. Supplementation is a must for optimal health, but there are only a handful of companies out there that manufacture effective products. If you take things like One-A-Day or Centrum, you might as well be swallowing rocks for all the good you’re doing yourself; do your research – look for companies that follow pharmaceutical good manufacturing processes, and whose products are submitted to independent laboratories like NSF, and which exceed industry standards for┬ácompleteness, bioavailablilty, purity, potency, and safety.

You may be wondering why I haven’t recommended any of these companies by name. It’s simple – I distribute for one of them, and this post is not designed as a guerrilla marketing pitch. But the takeaways here are two:

  1. Protect your elderly loved ones from worthless products and questionable marketing campaigns. Be involved in their lives, and make sure that you are aware what they are spending their hard-earned money on. Telemarketers are ruthless, and mail solicitations are deceptive and misleading – most supplements offered through the mail are worth less than the powder to blow them to Hell with.
  2. Get on some high-quality supplements. What you need won’t be found at your grocery or discount store – do your homework and get informed. Your body will thank you for it.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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One response to “Some Thoughts About Nutritional Supplements

  1. Pingback: More about nutritional supplements | Playing in the World Game

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