CONSUMERS ARE “IN THE DARK” – What You Need To Know Before Buying Nutritional Supplements


Most people have heard the expression that “something” “doesn’t stand a snowballs chance in hell” to succeed.  Well that analogy comes to mind when I think of well-intentioned, partially informed, people going into a health food store to buy a supplement they have read about on the Internet or elsewhere.

Today, more and more people are turning to natural supplements for answers to their health issues and needs.  One reason is the realization that for many conditions prescription medicines and over the counter medicines are ineffectual.  Another reason is the need to protect ourselves from disease and improve our overall health.  Natural medicine in the form of natural health supplements is the solution to many health problems.  But only if those supplements are safe, high quality, correctly dosed and proven in well-designed, clinical trials, to be effective. 

Due to the public shift toward preventative and alternative medicine, thousands of different supplements have surfaced on the market in recent years. With this comes deception and fraud.  Natural health supplements are not comprehensively regulated by any authority.  In other words, over-the-counter dietary supplements do not have to be proven safe or effective before they are sold.  Most come with all kinds of health claims while others are supposedly miracle cures.  Properly formulated nutritional health supplements can be powerful and effective. So how is a consumer to know if he is purchasing a safe effective health product that will work as advertised.  

As in most everything else, when it comes to dietary supplements………you get what you pay for…….wait, I take that back!…….sometimes you pay a premium price and still don’t get what you really needed or thought you were getting!  

The expression “penny-wise and pound-foolish” also comes to mind. Remember you have made a decision to purchase a specific supplement because you read something you found “credible” that indicated a certain health benefit you were interested in was achievable by supplement “X”.  If you save a dollar or two purchasing an incorrectly made or formulated product, you will lose both your money and the health benefit you were trying for. You need to shift the odds in your favor by knowing the facts and pitfalls to avoid when purchasing supplements. 
First of all you should ask yourself why you are considering buying the supplement to begin with?  A potential and usual answer is that a friend told me that it works, or, I read about it or heard about it on the TV or radio.  Believe it or not, the friend telling you that it worked for him or her is in my mind, a far more credible referral than anything you will ever hear advertised on TV or radio.  The experience of others who have used the product, friends, relatives, discussion forums and personal testimonials are all good sources of information useful in discovering the efficacy of a supplement.

The best reason to buy a supplement (other than a multiple vitamin which I will discuss in a future article) is because it is backed by quality double blind scientific studies.  The efficacy of a supplement is only as good as the ingredients/raw materials used to make it (assuming efficacy has been satisfactorily demonstrated in human clinical trials).   A supplement can be made from all natural ingredients yet it may not be of top quality.  Reasons for poor quality may be that the herbs may not have been properly harvested or the soil may have been poor If it’s an extract, the extraction process may have eliminated essential co-factors and/or active ingredients, or the herbs may have been damaged during the manufacturing process.  

The only time I know for sure that a product meets each of the standards I described above is when I over-see the ordering of the raw materials that will eventually go into the product and the subsequent pre and post testing of the manufactured product.  Before any raw material goes into a product, I send it to an independent analytical lab that confirms the ingredient is chemically exactly what we thought we were buying from the wholesale companies supplying these raw materials.  Though the wholesalers provide us with their own certificates of analysis, they mean little or nothing to me and I go through the time and expense of obtaining INDEPENENT confirmation from arms length laboratories.  (Copies of these independent testing certificates are kept in our offices).

This brings me to something I call “label decoration” that is a misleading tactic that is widespread in the dietary supplement industry.  80% of the effort in this industry goes into advertising and marketing which sounds scientific but is, in fact, all to often pseudo-scientific. The science upon which most products are based is either no science, bad science or borrowed science. (borrowed science means good science from another product that you apply to your product even though it was not your product that was tested!)
Marketers and accountants run many of these companies.  If it’s too expensive to buy the ingredient that was tested, then buy something that looks similar to it!  If it’s too expensive to use the same therapeutic amount that was used in the study, then use a 1/5 or a 1/10 of it!   The name of the ingredient will still be on the label and the consumer will recognize the name and feel good that it’s included.  But often times it is included at an ineffective level that will probably do nothing to improve your health.

It’s similar to saying you go to the gym every day, but only perform, 5 minutes of cardio and one push up and leave.  The claim sounds good, but there is little health benefit behind it.  Another trick these supplement marketing companies use to make their products look more affordable is packaging the bottle with less than one months supply of the product.  A bottle that contains 30 pills, but the dosage is 2 per day, appears cheaper…until you run out in 15 days! 

So what’s the point of this article and how can it help you to locate the “real thing”?  As time goes by I will be recommending certain ingredients as part of anti-aging/anti-disease protocols that I will be writing about.  If there are companies that make the combinations of ingredients that we suggest you take, we will direct you to those companies and those products.

If the combinations we suggest are not available, then I will have them made and make them available to you at far below retail prices.  Our products will always be available direct to you at wholesale prices without the retail markups.  

In subsequent writings you will be reading about our migraine product that is aimed at prevention as opposed to treating the pain, MigreLief which has received 2 U.S. and international patents.  Additional AKESO products include Cal-Vantage for bone strength and health and Prosta-Norm for healthy prostate function.  Of course all of these products and those that you will be learning about in the “Aging is War at the Cellular Level” series are made under these stringent requirements that I have established. 

I look forward to this project and hope that many people find the topics I write about to be helpful guiding them onto the scientifically correct pathway to proactive health, anti-aging and disease prevention.  
                                                                                  Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N, C.N.S


The Misunderstood Benefits and Risks of Calcium

It perplexes me as to why some physicians and even dieticians and nutritionists aren’t a bit more      careful  when they tell patients or customers to take 1000-1500 mg of calcium per day because its “healthy for their bones”?


The assumption being made is that all or most of this large amount of calcium being recommended is actually getting into the bones. Many healthcare professionals will also recommend that the calcium be coupled with a Vitamin D, because it helps to increase the absorption of calcium into the blood. (which is true)

The question not being asked or answered is where is this calcium going once its in the blood and available systemically?  Is it possible that some of this calcium is NOT winding up in the bones but in the lining of the arteries instead? (a process known as arterial calcification which can cause arterial dysfunction)  The answer is a resounding yes!  Let’s take a look at what needs to happen for calcium to deposit into the bones and alternatively, not into the lining of the arteries!

Calcium is positively charged atom called a cation.  It’s charge is +2 (divalent).  In order for calcium to be absorbed into the bone matrix, a protein named osteocalcin has to undergo a process called carboxylation to be able to bind with the calcium.  When osteocalcin is “under” carboxylated, the calcium will not be absorbed well or at all.  Another protein called Matrix Gla Protein is found in the arterial cell wall, MGP maintains healthy soft tissue calcium metabolism protecting against arterial calcification.

So what do the bones and the arteries have in common regarding calcium………….?   Vitamin K !   Via the process of carboxylation, Vitamin K assures that both osteocalcin is carboxylated so that calcium can be deposited into the bone matrix, and matrix Gla via carboxylation is synthesized to prevent the deposition of calcium into the arteries. 

While vitamin D is necessary, plays a role in the carboxylation process and has many other wellness benefits………healthy calcium metabolism both in bones and arteries is very dependent upon Vitamin K.  It seems that Vitamin K-2 (menaquinones) may have more cardiovascular benefit while Vitamin K-1 phylloquinone may work better for bones………….so a combination of Vitamin K-1* and K-2 * might be advisable to a dosage of at least 1mg of K-1, plus 100 mcg (micrograms) of a form of K-2.*

Taking therapeutic amounts of Vitamin K has been shown to significantly reduce fracture rates at the hip and spine, yet it does not seem to increase Bone Mineral Density (BMD). This does not surprise me because BMD does not accurately measure the architecture of the bones, just the mineral presence.  Obviously, the mechanism of Vitamin K is working in a different manner.  Additionally, other health benefits for Vitamin K are being written about in the literature.  It seems that this vitamin may be involved in prevention of osteoarthritis, has anti-inflammatory mechanisms, may be of real benefit in preventing prostate cancer, deficiencies may be involved in progression of Alzheimer’s.

To sum up, calcium intake of greater than 500-600 mg per day is not necessary or useful in preventing bone fractures.  Adding at least 5000 IU per day of Vitamin D-3 and at least 1-2 mg of vitamin-K and 500 mg/day of magnesium to your daily diet will give you the protection against bone fractures that you need.  

For these reasons and to insure that calcium ends up in your bones not lining your arteries,  it is very important to take a properly formulated supplement.  A supplement with the right combination of high quality vitamins and minerals at the proper doses for healthier bones and ultimately to prevent fractures.  Cal-Vantage was formulated for just this purpose.

*Vitamin K-1 is also known either as phylloquinone or phytonadione.
*Vitamin K-2 is also known as menaquinone-7.
(There is a menaquinone-4 but preliminary research seems to indicate that more of it is necessary to achieve results the MK-7 can yield at mcg levels.


Calcium and Osteoporosis 

The Misunderstood Benefits and Risks of Calcium Supplementation


* Calcium supplementation is big business
* 50% of all women over age 65 and 25% of all men will experience at least one
osteoporotic fracture in their life time.
* The governments’ understanding of micronutrient requirements as expressed
in the RDI’s is archaic.
* Most if not all RDI’s for vitamins and minerals are woefully low, while the RDI of
1,000-1,500 mg. per day of calcium could be dangerously high.

FACT: Bantu women in Africa have lower estrogen levels than U.S. women both before and after menopause. They consume less than 500 mg. per day of calcium yet osteoporotic fractures are extremely rare;

FACT: The Japanese dietary calcium intake is 540 mg. per day yet their hip fracture rate is half of western countries.

FACT: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that post-menopausal women who took 2,000 mg. of calcium per day had the same rate of bone loss as those on placebo.

FACT: A study done by the Mayo Clinic on 106 women of various ages demonstrated that over a 2.6-6.6 year observation period there was no correlation between calcium supplementation and the rate of bone loss.

FACT: Calcium by itself doesn’t work very well. A study of 26 post-menopausal women who were placed on HRT and a “bone healthy” diet demonstrated a meager increase of BMD (Bone Mineral Density) of .7%. The group that was given a mixture of calcium and other supportive and synergistic micronutrients demonstrated an increase in BMD 16 times greater than the control.

FACT: A 1981 study of calcium versus calcium and supportive co-factors demonstrated that the mixture increased BMD 200-300% greater than calcium alone.

DANGER: Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is caused by calcification of these and other soft tissues throughout the body.

DANGER: When calcium is supplemented by itself and is not being incorporated into the bone matrix, the difference between what is consumed and excreted contributes not only to arteriosclerosis but accelerated aging of soft tissues throughout the body.

FACT: Two forms of a lesser known vitamin have been shown to be 56-74% deficient in people with osteoporosis.

FACT: This same vitamin has been shown to increase the absorption of calcium into the osteocalcin matrix by 50% in just 14 days.

FACT: This same vitamin has been shown in vitro and in animals to draw calcium out of soft tissues and reverse calcification.

FACT: Several studies have shown that absorption of calcium by humans decreases with age. Calcium absorption can be enhanced by a particular kind of health promoting fiber.

FACT: Deposition of calcium into the bone matrix is only half of the BMD equation. Bone Resorption (the loss of bone) must also be addressed!

FACT: Two herbs with substantial health promoting benefits in areas other than BMD have been shown in vitro and in animals to decrease osteoclast (cells that consume bone) activity and decrease bone resorption. This is a mechanism similar to the bisphosponate drugs like Fossamax. But these drugs have side effects like esophageal irritation and are expensive.

FACT: Slowing down calcification and glycation (the aging effects of sugar on the organs of our body) is a major anti-aging benefit.

FACT: Homocysteine which is a marker or indicator of many chronic degenerative diseases, including cardiovascular disease, and diabetes , is also higher in patients with osteoporosis. A combination of three common vitamins has been clinically shown to reduce homocysteine.

FACT: In addition to the role it plays in bones, Calcium is essential to over-all health and longevity. But calcium must be taken correctly and with the proper supporting co-factors which are most often not included in calcium containing products.

The combination of biochemically, synergistic ingredients in a product I formulated: “Cal-Vantage” includes these important co-factors and will go beyond just reducing your risk for bone fractures due to osteoporosis.

Please continue to read about the scientific data reviewing the benefits of the ingredients in Cal-Vantage relating to osteoporosis, risk of bone fracture, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.