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Do Your Homework When Buying Dietary Supplements But Don’t Be Fooled

Under: General Health

Think you’ve picked the right online health product because the research backs it up? It looks good on the company’s website, their pitch littered with scientific studies supporting the vitamins, digestive health products, herbal supplements, or whatever you’re shopping for ….

But Think Again. You can be easily misled by a company’s cherry-picking parts of a study to skew the picture in support of what they’re selling.

As the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Akeso Health Sciences, a company dedicated to providing effective, drug-free options to enhance health and well-being, I encourage everyone to be proactive about their health and use the internet to identify products that support good health. When making health-related decisions, it’s essential that the information you use be based upon clinical trials published in respected, peer-reviewed medical or scientific journals, and not upon anecdotal testimonials made by unknown individuals or companies trying to sell you products without providing clinical studies supporting the use of their ingredients.

Selecting the best dietary supplements

Selecting the best dietary supplements

But fair warning: Not all companies that quote published studies to back up their products’ value are telling you the full story, so even though you have done your homework and think you are making a good decision to buy, that may not be the case. Many opportunistic companies spin their reporting by telling you only parts of a study that support their product and leave out parts that don’t.

The problem isn’t only with this misquoting and skewing of information. In addition, certain published studies are just bad or misleading in themselves.

A great example of this is a well-known published study that showed vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters (1). This study was embraced by many healthcare professionals and repeated millions of times by laypeople until it was accepted as fact.

In the study, researchers compared the mortality of Seventh Day Adventists (who do not eat meat) to meat-eaters, finding Seventh Day Adventist on average lived 10 years longer. When this information became well known, it caused tens of millions of people to at least think about switching to vegetarianism.

I support anyone’s decision to be a vegetarian or vegan if done properly, but as you will soon learn, if the decision is based on your belief that no longer eating meat will make you live longer, you’ll want to take another look!

The major flaw of the vegetarianism vs. meat-eater study is that researchers were comparing Seventh Day Adventists who also drank alcohol, exercised often, were typically not overweight, and ate no processed foods, with meat-eaters, regardless of whether the meat-eaters drank alcohol, were obese, didn’t exercise, and possibly ate processed foods.

I think it’s easy to see the problem with this study. The meat-eaters were doing all of these other very unhealthy things, but the study concluded they lived shorter lives than vegetarians because they ate meat.

When the study was redone (2) and included meat eaters who were health-conscious and didn’t drink alcohol, were not over-weight, and exercised (just like the Seventh Day Adventists), there was no difference in life expectancy between vegetarians and health-conscious meat-eaters.

This shows that even published studies can be bad, misleading, not well thought out or well-structured, and cause even the best-intentioned, proactive, health-conscious consumer to make poor decisions—despite doing your homework.

At Akeso Health Sciences, I do not allow this kind of false and misleading reporting of the science that backs our products. This is probably why so many of our Akeso customers have been with us for over 25 years. They rely on me to be an industry watchdog and know they will always get the complete truth and up-to-the-minute science, as well as the gold standard, state-of-the-art, targeted formulations.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, MS, CCN, CNS.