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May 14, 2014 11:06 AM

What's in Supplements?

I've periodically wondered about calories, carbs, etc. in vitamin supplements. Anyone else think about this, or do you all have better things to do? ;-)

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  1. a) it depends entirely on what supplement it is.

    b) by law, it's supposed to be right there on the bottle.

    It can't possibly be enough calories, carbs, or fat grams to be fussed with.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      Yes, agree a) and b). I pay attention to the calories and carbs as well as the other ingredients. The only supplement I actually consider and count in my intake is fish oil. The others are negligible calories (e.g. magensium, vitamin B, ALA).

    2. Stopped taking vitamins entirely after reading about how one (vitamin E?) was made in China from the hides of Australian sheep. You can bet that that bit of information was never stated anywhere on the pill bottle. I'll stick to eating lots of fruits and veggies!

      1 Reply
      1. Here are some example scenarios where a person might be concerned with supplement contents.

        Personally, I look at the ingredients of everything I ingest (unless I forget). But, I am aggressively avoiding certain things, due to unresolved health issues. Maybe when my issues are resolved, I'll stop looking, but, I think it's a good habit, as I've noticed a lot of "crap" creeping into products that have been historically "clean".

        Here is a quote from Dr. William Davis'

        "The celiac population, of course, respond to microgram quantities of gliadin/gluten. Most of us require milligram quantities to react if we are not celiac or gluten-sensitive. For instance, from a wheat germ agglutinin standpoint, the average person takes in 10-20 mg per day."

        Chris Kresser is someone who often blogs about additives. He's pretty good about citing reference material. For example:

        I actually asked Jarrow from what their magnesium stearate was derived when I was advised to avoid a certain food. At that time, they said it came from palm oil, and they answered very promptly.

        Finally, here is an informational document intended to help people who might be suffering from SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth).

        Be aware that formulas change, and you might need to check the container of repeat purchases. I vaguely remember a supplement changing from olive oil to soybean oil. Really, not a huge deal (much < 1 gram), but, the idea that they would make that change was enough to make me re-evaluate, and purchase a different product.

        I'll also add that I am getting away from supplements in favor of real food. That's a whole 'nother topic, but, I like the case made by Dr. Terry Wahls.

        1 Reply
        1. re: johnseberg

          but none of that has anything at all to do with fat or calories or carbs.

          **Of course** someone who is allergic to or intolerant of a given ingredient should read the label to see if that ingredient is in the supplement.

          but none of this addresses fat grams or carb grams or total calories, which is what sandy asked about.

        2. I only think about it when i see the growing variety of "adult gummy vitamins" now available.... Which seem to have an impressive number of ingredients for a so-called vitamin.
          The side of my bottles have a label with the info, as far as I can tell the only one with any calories or fat is my vegetarian omega blend with 10 calories and 1g fat...

          5 Replies
          1. re: Ttrockwood

            I can't believe those gummy vitamins. It's clearly some sort of a joke...isn't it?

            1. re: sandylc

              You would think but i keep seeing more varieties!

            2. re: Ttrockwood

              I wonder what the label on the gummy vitamins reads. I'll have to investigate next time I'm in the store. My omega 3 supplement is also the only one with a listed calorie count

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                I actually just had to pickup calcium myself and they make gummy calcium chews!? Two huge chewy things had more ingredients than you can imagine and 35calories to equal just 500mg!

            3. A very wise cardiologist friend once said to me, "why would you take supplements? You are such an advocate for eating whole foods and you despise processed foods. Supplements are the ultimate processed food." I thought that was a very good point. Eat the foods you need to maintain good health.

              He then went on to tell me about some studies done on protein supplements and how it revealed various toxins and high cholesterol levels in many of them.

              11 Replies
              1. re: lynnlato

                Eating whole foods might not allow you to get all of the nutrients you'd like. That's why I take supplements. I don't eat processed food but I still consume certain supplements. The idea is to know where your supplements are coming from and how they are produced as with most other things I put in my mouth.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  "The idea is to know where your supplements are coming from and how they are produced as with most other things I put in my mouth."

                  I agree fldhkybnva. Sadly, that can be a daunting task at times with regard to most supps. Not impossible, but difficult.

                  And then there was this that was recently released: "Despite one in three Britons taking vitamins or mineral pills, evidence from studies of almost 500,000 people suggested that "supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults … has no clear benefit and might even be harmful."

                  1. re: lynnlato

                    And yet, no mention of how harmful prescription and OTC drugs can be.

                    There are poor-quality, synthetic supplements out there and these are generally the ones used in "medical" studies.

                    EDIT: Also, medical types think that a supplement should always give results in a few days - they rarely understand that health has to be built and maintained. Shotgun symptom-squashing with potent poisons is more their game.

                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                    Yes. This is true for people who have pathway defects, like MTHFR pathway defects, and cannot metabolize, for example, the B12 form from their diet into the form that their body needs. I am one such person. I take the B12 form that my body cannot metabolize and have felt a world of difference.

                    No amount of whole food eating will solve that problem.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      local organic farm raised supplements? or a personal relationship with your apothecary?

                      1. re: paulj

                        There really IS a difference in quality between supplements, as there is with any manufactured product.

                    2. re: lynnlato

                      The quality of supplements varies greatly. Many claim to be made from whole foods. The ones at the drug store are typically synthetics and filled with crappy fillers.

                      Does your wise cardiologist think I should skip my glucosamine and become pretty much unable to walk?

                      Or maybe I should leave out the supplements for my eyes; one to hold off inherited macular degeneration, a couple to keep my eyes from drying closed at night?

                      Or perhaps I should stop the calcium supplement that prevents crystals from forming in my bladder....

                      NEVER listen to a doctor when it comes to diet/supplementation. I haven't met one yet that knows what they're talking about.

                      Spoke to a specialist last week who thought that all "natural" medicine fell under the banner of homeopathy.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        My doctor friend and I were discussing protein supplements. Sorry if I didn't make that clear. The article, on the other hand, weighed heavily against most supplementation. I'm not advocating either way. Just posting an article I read recently.

                        Incidentally, my doctors have always advocated taking a multivitamin. I, however, choose not to. As a type 1 diabetic, I do and will continue to listen to my doctor. Not blindly so, but I consider myself well-informed and am doing well after all these years of living with a very difficult to manage chronic illness.

                        I say do what works for you, sandylc. If it's workin', then keep on keepin' on.

                      2. re: lynnlato

                        Some supplements are superior to rx drugs and produced to high standards of quality. And lots of folks cannot eat enough to supply optimal levels of important nutrients. A lot of studies of supps have applied irrelevant surrogate end points or used bad or too litte supp.