Supplement Mysteries: Local Dietician Offers Advice After Atty General Fraud Report

Apr 3, 2015

Buyer Beware: Shopping for supplements can be confusing, misleading.
Credit nih.gov

  Central New Yorkers who take supplements to improve their health might be wondering who to believe and what to take, after major retailers were targeted by state officials for possible fraud.  A Skaneateles-based dietician offers some advice amid the confusion.

Different Cultures and different nutritionists have a wide range of views on how and if you should supplement your diet to make sure you have the right vitamins and nutrients.  Local Dietitian Kelly Springer runs Kelly's Choice Nutritional Company and says even eating all the good fruits and vegetables might come up short.

Kelly Springer works with doctors, workplaces and individual clients on nutrition and diet programs, including some supplements.
Credit kellyschoice.org

  “We’re finding that our soil might not have as many nutrients as it used to.  Used to have about 72 minerals and vitamins and now it has about 4.  So we may be lacking in our diet, where we’re eating the same celery, carrots and lettuce, but it may not have the nutrients we’re used to be having in the soil.”

With that, she’s changed her thinking a bit from believing we can get everything from food, she now supports a multi-vitamin for most people as an “insurance policy” of sorts.  When it comes to the myriad compounds, plant extracts, concentrated vitamins offered at health stores and even supermarkets, it gets dicey.

“They’re scary to me.  We don’t really know what’s in those supplements because the FDA does not regulate them.  Also Americans are on a lot of mediations.  Those medications can have interactions with those supplements.”

Things got a little more confusing earlier this week when New York’s Attorney General reached a settlement with GNC over testing what’s in supplements.  

A New York Attorney General investigation found labels didn't always reveal what was in the supplements.
Credit fda.gov

  An investigation found many things sold at GNC, Walgreens, Target and elsewhere had virtually no plant material of the stated extract or herbal supplement.  The research found others had ingredients not on the label…things people could be allergic to.  Springer still does see a role for nutrients for the clients she works with.

“So if they’re not eating fish, I would want them to take an Omega 3.  If they’re not eating meat, they’re a vegan, the need to take B-12.  So we work with a diet plan to make sure those vitamins make sense for them.”

At the same time, Springer strongly urges people to do research on any supplements, and maybe stick with long-time, reputable brands.  She also instructs that a dietician or doctor be in the loop on what you’re taking.  Springer still leans toward food for most nutrition, preferring variety and filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables as a simple way to be healthy and trim.