Should You Take a Dietary Supplement?

Clear Health is frequently asked whether dietary supplements should be included in a nutritional plan. We recommend supplements, yet it is our opinion that dietary supplements should not be used to substitute for a properly balanced diet based on lean proteins, generous servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day, whole grain cereals, and tied to a regular exercise program.

11 Multivitamins to Avoid

In addition, dietary supplements vary widely in cost. To illustrate this point, we have compiled an indepth review of two supplements based on information and statements from the product manufacturers. We compare the well-known companies, Kirkland Signature and PharmanexUSA. Kirkland Signature can be found in bulk purchase locations such as Costco. PharmanexUSA is available through online or network marketing systems.

We analyzed the Kirkland Signature product, Daily Vitamin/Mineral with Lycopene, 500 tablet container. This represents a 500-day supply (one table per day), and costs about $25. This averages about $0.05 per tablet -- or five cents per day per person.

Kirkland Signature logo

At the other end of the cost spectrum is the PharmanexUSA LifePak Anti-Aging Formula, 60-packet order, which represents a 30-day supply (two packets per day), and costs nearly $100. This averages about $3.00 per day per person.

Pharmanex USA logo

LifePak Prime Anti-Aging Formula
Item: #01003485 :: Size 60 packets :: Retail Price: $93.10

Our First Concern
PharmanexUSA includes the following disclaimer on their product pages:


Let us reiterate, the PharmanexUSA product "is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." PharmanexUSA instructs their customers to take one packet of their formula twice daily. Essentally, it costs nearly $100 per month for this supplement. Yet their formula is not intended to prevent any disease. What good is this product?

We want to point out that this PharmanexUSA product contains a robust blend of vitamins, nutrients and minerals that are considered by the scientific community to add positively to our health. In particular, their LifePak Prime Anti-Aging formula includes numerous anti-oxidants. We are unaware of any health research or scientific organization that opposes increasing anti-oxidants moderately in our diet.

Our Second Concern
Although the scientific community encourages an increase in anti-oxidants in our diet, what is the most effective method of doing this? PharmanexUSA highlighted a BBC report on their website that summarized the results of a large-N French study that focused on the affect of increasing anti-oxidants in diet. This report provides some valuable insight into this area.

French scientists, the BBC reported, provided supplements containing similar levels of anti-oxidant nutrients found in a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to a total of 13,000 men and women. Participants ranged in age from 35-60, and the scientists monitored the subjects over a seven year period. The study suggested cancer rates fell by almost a third, and death rates decreased by nearly 40 percent. Yet these results occurred only in men -- women participants saw no measurable benefits.

This is a significant finding. The researchers claim their work "provides compelling evidence of the importance of a healthy diet." We agree. The dietary supplement contained 6mg of beta-carotene, 120mg of vitamin C, 90mg of vitamin E, 100mcg of selenium and 20mg of zinc. On the one hand, the supplements helped the male participants greatly. On the other, the supplements appeared to have no affect on women who were already consuming a well-balanced diet.

Study Summary
The French scientists found that the inclusion of the dietary supplements significantly reduced, by 31 percent, the risk of all cancers in men. They also found that, overall, the death rate in men was reduced by 37 percent.
Download PDF Copy of BBC Report

They found no beneficial affects from the supplements for women. The scientists attributed this finding to the better diets of women in general. Essentially, the supplements were "making up" for the poor nutritional habits of men. They provided no additional benefit to the women who were already consuming a healthy and balanced diet.

Taking the supplements, on the other hand, had no effect on heart disease for men or women. InfoImagination believes this supports our MAD™ fitness program philosophy. Having a nutritionally balanced diet, with or without supplements, is a necessary part of a healthy life style, but it is not sufficient alone. We must include a regular exercise program.

In addition, the supplements did not appear to provide superior nutrients from those obtained from fresh fruits and vegetables. The scientists concluded the opposite, "There is reason to believe that the effect would be less than that of dietary sources of anti-oxidants, particularly fruit and vegetables, which provide other protective substances."

One concern about dietary supplements is how much is enough -- or how much is too much? The BBC pointed out that a Food Standards Agency report warned that overdosing on vitamins and minerals can be harmful.

Our Third Concern
Pharmanex Bio Photonic ScannerPharmanexUSA advertises a revolutionary product, their BioPhotonic scanner (right), which allows for quick, and non-intrusive measurement of anti-oxidants in an individual's skin.

Yet PharmanexUSA does not provide guidelines about the appropriate level of anti-oxidants in the body (see table below). After listening to a CD presentation and watching a short video, we observed the possible danger of the PharmanexUSA approach.

Their first speaker boasted a score of 48,000. A woman followed noting an initial score below 20,000. After taking supplements for a couple months, she increased to the mid-50,000s, and through continued use jumped to 96,000. At what point, if at all, do supplements become toxic?

What does my Skin Carotenoid Score mean?
Your Skin Carotenoid Score is a measurement of the presence of carotenoid antioxidants in your skin. Carotenoids neutralize damaging free radical molecules and are absorbed in human plasma and tissue, providing an excellent indicator of a person's overall antioxidant health status. Unlike other methods of measuring antioxidants, your Skin Carotenoid Score shows the stable level of carotenoid antioxidants in your skin-providing you with a more accurate and reliable biomarker of your antioxidant defense level. Your Skin Carotenoid Score will help you determine whether you are consuming an adequate amount of carotenoid antioxidant-containing nutrients, and how taking Lifepak regularly could improve your antioxidant levels and your overall antioxidant health.

With the Pharmanex BioPhotonic Scanner we have an actual quantifiable measurement of a person's carotenoid antioxidant level. People who have measured antioxidant metabolism for their entire lives, people like Dr. Lester Packer, look at this machine and wish they had it 40 years ago as they began research on antioxidants. "This kind of tool is going to become very valuable, not only in assessing the health status of people, but using it in an investigative way to determine how changing your lifestyle may improve your antioxidant status," Lester Packer, Ph.D.
source: PharmanexUSA website

We urge you to learn as much as you can about anti-oxidants, supplements and nutrition. A poor quality diet is a pathway to disease and disaster. We also recommend getting a professional evaluation. We believe a device such as the PharmanexUSA BioPhotonic scanner is an excellent starting point.

In answer to the original question: Should supplements be included in a nutritional plan? Yes, we recommend taking a simple dietary supplement daily, as we recognize it is difficult to eat "perfectly" all the time. We have shown two examples of supplements. The Kirkland Signature tablet will cost you less than $5 per month. For a family of four, the PharmanexUSA LifePak products may cost about $350-$400 per month.

Ultimately, you must decide which product is right for you. Clear Health recommends using less expensive dietary supplements and suggests you apply the extra money to health club dues, purchasing a bike, hiking more often, and generally increasing the quality of the foods you consume, i.e., lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grain cereals and breads.

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Save Your Money!
Although many people pay more than a third extra for organic food due to their belief that these food have more nutritional value than food grown with pesticides and chemicals, research by Dr Susanne Bugel and colleagues from the Department of Human Nutrition, University of Copenhagen, shows there is no clear evidence to support this.

This new research, published in the latest issue of the Society of Chemical Industry's (SCI) Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, suggests that organic foods ARE NOT healthier than food grown with the use of pesticides and chemicals. Save your money. Buy locally where possible, but don't go overboard on expensive organic foods.
We Eat What We See
Professor Brian Wansink believes it is nearly impossible for us to ignore the clarion call of the candy jar, the beckoning of the buffet or the summons of the snack cupboard.

The Cornell Food and Brand Lab researcher says, "We believe we have all the free will in the world. We believe we overeat if the food is good or if we're really hungry. In reality, those are two of the last things that determine how much we eat. Visibility and convenience are what really influences our eating."

"Something that's very visible, every time we see it we have to make a decision. Do I want to eat that? Do I not want to eat that? Do I want that candy on my desk, or do I not want it? We can say no 27 times, but if it's visible, the 28th or 29th time, we start saying, 'Maybe.' By time 30, 31, we start saying, 'What the heck? I'm hungry,' " Wansink reports.

Will eating a calorie of fat make you fatter than eating a calorie of carbohydrate?
Studies show that a fat calorie causes the same weight gain as a carbohydrate calorie. Long-term studies where people randomly ate a high-fat/low-carb diet or low-fat/high-carb diet have shown that based on what you put into your mouth, the source of the calories is really not important.

On the other hand, people who eat more trans fat seem to gain more weight, even when the total calories are the same. And, trans fat is particularly harmful with regard to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

In addition, high intake of refined starch and sugar is related to a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes, whereas high-fiber whole-grain carbohydrates are related to a lower risk.

You'll eat more if you're eating:
  • "family style" with the serving bowls on the table.
  • directly from the bag or carton.
  • on a bigger plate or from a bigger container.
  • in front of the television, in the car, with friends.
"When it comes down to it, we're efficient people. We want something that's convenient. And if it's fruit or vegetables that's a whole lot more convenient than that cake that's wrapped up in the freezer, guess what's for snack today? Fruits and vegetables."

The ClearHealth total fitness program helps individuals acheive mental clarity, end addictions, reduce stress, eat a balanced diet and develop a fun way to get to wellness.

Metabolism Calculator Many of us sit at a desk or behind a computer all day. While our fingers may travel many miles, our bodies can become sedentary.

Inefficient blood flow prevents needed oxygen from getting to the brain and other vital organs. People can become lethargic. The human spirit demands much more. Try our Metabolism Calculator by clicking here.

ClearHealth has been a leader in addiction research, nutrition and exercise physiology, specializing in women's health, for over 20 years. Scott Goold, director and a Community Addiction Recovery Specialist (CARS), originally began his work developing Clear Health programs for athletes.


CARS Graduate June 2011
Buprenorpine Training March 2012
Integrated Addictions Training Aug 2012
Advanced Buprenorpine Training April 2013