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Choosing Quality Supplements_Final

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>> Hi, it's wonderful to see you today. Throughout this course, we've mentioned supplements that might be helpful for clients with various hormonal imbalances. In this module, we're going to delve deeper into the supplement conversation because we know it's a hot topic. In this lecture, we'll be talking about supplement ingredients, labeling, and how to help your clients choose high quality supplements, while avoiding the ones that may be ineffective or even dangerous. A word of caution before we jump into this discussion. Remember that as a Health Coach, it is never appropriate to prescribe or treat. Your role is to be a source of information and guidance for your clients. In particular, you should not recommend that your clients stop or start any medications or supplements without the approval of their licensed healthcare practitioner. You can suggest that a client consult with his or her doctor to explore options, and you can educate a client about supplements, but you cannot tell them what to do. Your role is to empower them to be informed and to act in the best interest of their own health through the proper channels. Makes sense? Supplements are a big business, they produce an estimated $27 billion in sales every year in just the US alone. So it makes sense that everyone wants a piece of that pie. Unfortunately, many companies are in it just for the profits and care very little about quality. Supplements are a small yet valuable part of a comprehensive wellness plan. But let's face it. If you've been in the drug stores and searched the shelves, you've likely noticed that quality varies widely. The majority of products sell little more than empty promises, but which is which? How can you help teach your clients to decipher which brands are of high quality and which are waste of time and money. Let's start with the basics. First and foremost, what is a supplement exactly? According to the FDA, a dietary supplement is a product that is intended to be taken orally to add further nutritional value to one's diet. Supplements contain one or any combination of the following substances. Vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, supplemental protein or carbohydrates, fiber, and concentrates, metabolites, constituents, or extracts. These are substances that are broken down from whole products into just the active compound. They may include glandular extracts to treat thyroid and adrenal disease, glucosamine, chondroitin, and methylsulfonylmethane. Okay, one more time, methylsulfonylmethane or MSM. This is a naturally occurring sulfur compound that is well-known for its benefits to joints and tissue. Green tea and green coffee extracts, and fish oil. There are several ways that supplements can be taken such as tablets, capsules, liquids, premixed beverages, and powders. In addition, there are also creams, gels, and sprays that fall into the category of supplements. These are meant to be used on the skin and are absorbed easily into the system. Examples of these topical supplements include hormonal creams and gels such as testosterone or progesterone, vitamin creams and sprays, and magnesium oil. There are many reasons why supplements are used. For example, some dietary supplements are meant to help your clients obtain an adequate intake of essential nutrients, while others may help reduce the risk of disease. However, the FDA makes it difficult to actually make these claims. You can help your clients navigate these claims by keeping on top of the latest research. You don't need to know and memorize everything there is to know about supplements, you just need to be okay with saying, "Let me look into this and get back to you," and know how to access and decipher that information. It's important to remember when helping your clients make a choice that supplements are not regulated or even approved by the FDA. The FDA states that it is up to the manufacturer to ensure that the products that manufactures and distributes are safe, that any claims made about the products are not false or misleading, and that the products comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and FDA regulations in all other respects. The FDA does not test or approve supplements without reason, but they will send out warnings to companies if they have reason to believe that they are not complying with these guidelines. They have taken a particularly strong stance against claims of weight loss and cures for cancer. What all this means for your clients is that it's very confusing to choose a good supplement, even for the most savvy buyer, having you in their corner with an excellent understanding of the choices and the options that are available will make a big difference for them if they choose to evaluate and purchase supplements. So let's take a look at how you can help educate your clients. What are some absolute minimum requirements for a good quality supplement? Qualities to look for in a good quality supplement include, tested ingredients. Look for proof that certain ingredients work. They should have been tested using randomized trial. Bioavailable formulations, look for whole foods over synthetics and formulations that don't contain preservatives, fillers, dyes, gluten, yeast, and other common allergens. These can affect how well the body utilizes the active ingredients in the supplements. Recommended dosage for the benefit that is desired, standardized extracts for herbs and glandulars, does the product actually contain what it claims to. For example, most fish oil supplements are diluted with a large proportion of soybean oil, vegan or vegetarian capsules, especially for people who adhere to these dietary practices, and a reputable company. Some companies with strong reputations include Designs for Health, Standard Process, Pure Encapsulations, Thorne Research, Vital Nutrients, and Gaia Herbs. Supplements that meet these standards are typically not cheap, these products cost more but they are held to a higher standard and are much more likely to be effective. Still, keep in mind that just because a product is expensive doesn't mean it's good. Never judge by price alone. When it comes to education about supplements, an important service you can offer to your clients is to stay tuned into the latest research. There are some wild claims out there about what supplements can do, and you want to be in the know, so your clients can have realistic expectations. There's a lot of misinformation on the Internet, and it can be tempting to buy into a promising health claim you see in an article or posted on a wellness professional social media page. Always fact-check and empower your clients to do the same. Many reputable journals and databases are available online, and you can gain a lot of information just by looking at the abstract and conclusions sections of the study. There have been a lot of studies on specific types of supplements that demonstrate which are effective for certain conditions. maintains a list of supplements with an overview of the latest research. Keep in mind that they tend to be conservative regarding the recommendations, since they are a government agency. Some other sources for information on supplements include the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, the Natural Standard, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Database, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, The National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, and PubMed. Most of these databases also contain information about possible interactions between supplements and medications. It's important for your clients to be aware that there may be contraindications to them taking certain supplements because of health issues or other medications and supplements. For example, a client might not think it's a big deal to start taking fish oil because it's so common and can be purchased right at the grocery store. But let's say this client also happens to be on a blood thinner, in which case, fish oil would not be recommended because it can increase bleeding. Advise instead that they discuss this with their licensed health practitioner before starting any new supplement. Many supplements are not independently tested, mostly because it's expensive and time-consuming. However, there are a few independent labs that test supplements, perhaps the most well-known of these is the United States Pharmacopeia or USP. Another esteemed testing lab is an SF International. It's also important to be mindful of the wording on labels. Many companies will put the letters USP or NSF on the label without actually having any approval from these companies. The seal and the words verified by USP or NSF should be on the label. If in doubt, look on the respective websites, or They list all of the products that they've approved. Most of the other seals of approval such as the Good Housekeeping Seal are meaningless. They are paid for by the manufacturer as a form of advertising. Keep in mind though that the absence of a seal is not necessarily a reflection on quality, good, or bad. Many of the smaller companies can't afford to pay these organizations for their seal of approval. If you or your clients are interested in learning more about certain supplements, check out This is an organization that independently tests many supplements and offers a service similar to consumer reports for supplements. The cost to receive the full reports is $42 per year. Okay, to recap what we've covered so far, when choosing a supplement, you'll want to look for products that have been tested, have bioavailable formulations, come in the recommended dosage for one's personal needs and desired benefits, have standardized extracts, contain what they claim to, are vegan or vegetarian, and come from a reputable company. A little research goes a long way, and there are a handful of great online publications and databases available for assessing specific supplement brands. Next, let's talk about some of the characteristics of supplements that should be avoided. Things to avoid when choosing a supplement include genetically modified organisms such as soybean oil and cornstarch. These are common additives in low quality supplements. Plastics, some enteric coated and time release capsules contain phthalates. Hydrogenated oils, these may be found in vitamin D and fish oil capsules, as well as in some time release formulations. Pesticides, lead, PCBs, and mercury. Unnecessary ingredients such as sugars and other sweeteners, artificial coloring, flavoring, and preservatives, fillers that contain toxins such as sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, povidone, shellac, chlorine, talc, and titanium dioxide. Fillers that may cause GI distress, including lactose, magnesium stearate, sorbitol and cellulose, and gluten, particularly for individuals who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The best supplements use the least amount of fillers. There are many reasons that companies use fillers, flavorings, colorings, and preservatives. They're trying to make production easier and faster make the pills easier to swallow, help them be more shelf stable and make them more appealing to the eye, nose, and palate. That being said, fewer fillers means a safer more bioavailable supplement. Some of those fillers have been shown to be downright dangerous. Many artificial colorings and flavorings can cause reactions for individuals who are sensitive to them. So it's really important to check labels to see if either artificial color or artificial flavor is on there. For example, some types of caramel coloring have been implicated as a cause of cancer, although the amount in the supplement capsule is very small. Sodium lauryl sulfate may react with other supplement ingredients to form dioxins. Talc is completely indigestible and is an irritant to the GI tract that may even contribute to stomach cancer. As I mentioned earlier, fish oil, while an excellent supplement is fraught with complications. Many of the fish oils available on the market are a combination of fish oil and other filler oils such as soybean, and they're produced from large inexpensive fish that have high levels of mercury and PCBs. It's important to choose a very high quality independently tested fish oil that has been shown to have low mercury and lead levels. If you're going to invest in a fish oil supplement, it's worth it to spend the extra money. You can check the International Fish Oil Standards Program for more information and which brands are pure. Another word of caution, watch out for private label supplements. These are made by another company and then the seller puts their own label on it. Seek out supplements that are made and sold by a reputable company. If your client is purchasing a private label supplement directly from a physician, it's important that he or she finds out who manufactured it and what it contains. Let's pause here for a quick recap. When choosing supplements, you and your clients want to avoid products containing GMOs, plastics, hydrogenated oils, pesticides, lead, PCBs, and mercury, and unnecessary ingredients. As you can see, there's a wide variation in the quality of supplements available on the market today. Next, we're going to discuss the specific supplement needs of vegan and vegetarian clients because they eat few or no animal products, it can be challenging to fully meet their nutritional needs solely from their diet. The supplements most often needed by vegans and vegetarians include vitamin B12, omega-3, vitamin D, iodine, iron, and zinc. Let's look at each of these individually. Vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin is only found in animal products. While it is present in soil, it isn't possible to eat enough unwashed vegetables to meet B12 requirements. The only way for a vegan to get adequate B12 is through fortified foods or supplements. The recommended dose is 25 to 100 micrograms per day. While there are vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids, they aren't easily absorbed by the body and require significant processing to become bioavailable. Flax, walnuts, and chia seeds do contain alpha linolenic acid or ALA, but they don't contain DHA or EPA, the most bioavailable omega-3 fatty acids. The body can convert ALA to DHA and EPA, but it isn't very efficient. Vegans seem to be able to maintain normal levels of EPA, but they have difficulty keeping their DHA levels high enough, therefore you may want to recommend DHA products made from algae to your vegan clients. Many vegans don't get enough vitamin D, since the best sources of vitamin D are dairy and fish. They should consider having their vitamin D level tested and supplement if their levels are low. There are a variety of vegan vitamin D supplement options available. Iodine is an essential mineral that many vegans are deficient in, partly because the most plentiful sources of iodine in the diet are fish and eggs. However, seaweed does have plenty of iodine, so only vegans who forgo seaweed need supplementation. The recommended daily amount of iodine is 150 micrograms per day. Supplementation with iodine should always be done under a doctor's supervision. The most bioavailable source of iron in the diet is from animal sources such as liver and red meat, this heme iron is already processed and no further processing is required by the body to be able to utilize it. The iron in vegetables on the other hand requires the body to process it to make it available. This means that the dietary recommendation for vegans is up to twice as high as the recommendation for meat eaters. The recommended amount of iron is 8 milligrams for adult men and postmenopausal women. It increases to 18 milligrams per day for adult women in the reproductive years and pregnant women should aim for 27 milligrams per day. Plentiful sources of iron in a vegan diet include beans, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Cooking with a cast iron pan can also improve iron levels. But clients shouldn't just go out and buy iron supplements. It's important for vegan clients to have their iron levels tested first. Iron overdose can have serious consequences including organ failure and death in extreme cases. Zinc is essential in every cell in the body and is particularly important for pregnant women. However, it's difficult to maintain adequate levels on a vegan diet. Few plants actually contain zinc, and it is not very bioavailable due to the presence of phytates. Natural sources of zinc include whole grains, wheat germ, tofu, sprouted breads, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Those on a gluten-free diet may have difficulty reaching adequate levels. The recommended daily dosage of zinc is 8 to 9 milligrams per day for adults. Pregnant women are recommended to increase to 11 to 12 milligrams and lactating women up to 12 to 13 milligrams per day. We've talked about six micronutrients that vegans and vegetarians may need to supplement in their diet, but there's a macronutrient that's worth mentioning too. Depending on an individual's diet, some vegans may benefit from protein supplements in order to ensure that they're getting adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. There are a number of excellent vegan protein powders available on the market that can serve their needs. Hemp protein is a popular plant-based protein, but it's important to note that it doesn't meet this need by itself because it doesn't contain enough lysine and is low in leucine and L-tryptophan. Sprout Living and Garden of Life are too popular brands that contain complete protein and are organic. To recap, clients who eat a plant-based diet may need to supplement with one or more of the following, vitamin B12, omega-3, vitamin D, iodine, iron, and zinc. Depending on their diet, they may also want to consider an organic and complete protein supplement. However, not all vegans need all supplements, everybody's body and life circumstances are different. Diets vary from one person to the next and some people absorb nutrients better than others. It's important as a Health Coach to be on the lookout for signs of deficiency in your clients and refer them to be tested by their doctor, not just suggesting that they go out and buy supplements because they seem to fall into a certain category. We hope you're feeling more confident about navigating the world of supplements. You now know how they're manufactured, the minimum requirements of a good supplement, what to avoid, the different types of supplements, where to go to research brands, and the potentially harmful ingredients to look out for in supplements. You're ready to go out there and use your knowledge to help your clients. Thank you so much for joining us in this lecture. Please visit the Facebook group and tell us about your own personal experience with supplements. Take care, and we'll see you soon.

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 28 seconds
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 5
Posted by: ninaz on Apr 13, 2018

Choosing Quality Supplements_Final

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