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Is a supplement still a supplement if it prevents, treats or cures?

This was a question put to the audience at a recent industry conference at Anaheim, California (March 2012) by one of the invited speakers Bill Sardi.  The rationale for his question arose from the fact that the FDA and most other authorities throughout the world do not allow claims that a supplement or natural ingredient will prevent, treat or cure a disease or illness.

So, what happens if there is irrefutable evidence that a supplement ingredient does those things?  Frequently new evidence comes up somewhere that supports this or that ingredient does prevent, treat or cure illnesses!  Some of the evidence has been around for a long time…for example, we all know that Vitamin C prevents scurvy but it would be illegal to make a claim to that effect as that would make Vitamin C a drug!

Bill Sardi is known in the dietary supplement industry for his well-researched writings on a variety of subjects and the promotion of a brand of resveratrol supplements.  He raised this matter at the conference because he was frustrated from being prevented by the FDA to carry out a clinical study on resveratrol with Duke University.  The main focus of the study was to consider the efficacy of resveratrol on aged macular degeneration.  However, because it was essentially a disease prevention study the FDA refused approval for it to proceed!

This creates somewhat of a quandary for manufactures/developers of dietary supplements who want to prove the efficacy of a product or ingredient.  We have started investigating ways in which a clinical study could be designed to help prove the efficacy of Total Balance.  It is not an easy thing to do as there are many barriers to overcome such as the one which Bill Sardi has experienced…but, it will happen…although it won’t be any time soon.


  • “In response to the above regarding the higher DHA to EPA level. I, for one, am happy & glad that the DHA is higher than the EPA. This is from the perspective of a 60+ gal. When a person is older, they cannot convert the EPA as readily to the DHA form as a younger person can, therefore the necessity for the higher DHA level. This is clearly covered in many articles regarding the need for Omega 3. It is difficult to find an Omega 3 supplement where the DHA levels are higher than the EPA levels when it clearly has been proven that the DHA form is the one that is most beneficial to the "older" generation. This particular senior citizen is quite happy that the DHA level is higher because the conversion process by the body is not what it used to be when younger. Keep up the good work, Warren & thank you for providing us with the high quality supplements & the educational articles. ”

    Beth March 30 2012

  • “Dear Warren, I read this phrase from one of the companies selling supplements stating that "All of our vitamins are cold pressed when applicable which ensures the nutrients stay alive as heat kills, and most all vitamin companies use heat for their processing, as it is much cheaper, but it does kill the nutrients immediately!" May I know your stand about this? Thank you. ”

    Elmer April 01 2012

  • “Do the study in NZ at say Otago Med’ School, then, on conclusion, post this paper on your ingredients page – just as you do for the paper by John Hopkins on Chromium nicotinate. You make no claims for this in your literature and outside the USA and maybe Australia, I know of no reason free citizens cannot reprint research papers.”

    Murray March 29 2012

  • “Can’t you do a peer reviewed study outside the U.S, and then publish the results on PubMed which will then be picked up on the Entrez database, where ‘people in the know’ look for our health answers? Although, I am not sure how you would establish the possible benefits of Total Balance as a complete product in any kind of study. How about showing the enhanced benefit of taking your Omega 3 QH ultra CoQ10 over other equivalent products on the market? The CoQ10 in your product is purported to be of high quality but low dose when compared to other provider’s of CoQ10 who also claim to deliver high quality. How do we know we are consuming enough combined Omega 3 (DHA 600 mg & EPA 260 mg) and CoQ10 (50 mg) from your product to achieve maximum benefit over other providers who recommend 200 mg of their ‘Japanese’ produced CoQ10? Also, same goes for the Omega 3 values with one additional query: Why is there more value in your Omega 3 that delivers more DHA than EPA when I read elsewhere that EPA quantities should be approximately 40/20 more than DHA levels in our supplement intake (Physicians for Optimal Heart and Brain Health claim that an EPA DHA ratio of 40/20 is recommended)? However, I have also read where DHA is more important based on body need on an individual basis. I admit to being very confused over all the claims out there and how you/we establish the ‘right level’ of mg in a product.”

    Lee March 30 2012

  • “drugs do treat and cure a disease, do drugs used to prevent any disease? we are eating to prevent sick, so food is drugs too? playing words…..”

    tpl September 05 2013

  • “These are great bits of information, and I need to put them someplace, not to forget… how do you suggest I do this? Is there a booklet I can buy with these articles’ info ? It has become a full time job to take supplements, so I need to get a proper case like we do with prescriptions… and we better not say they are like medicine, as they will want us to have prescriptions for the garlic and turmeric soon.. They are so greedy, it kills…lol ”

    mary dicerni April 09 2012

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