Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
November 8, 2020
I was treating patients for 44 years. Two of the most frequently asked questions I heard from my patients were: “Can you give me a prescription to make me better?” and “What vitamins do I need to take?”
It seems like everyone wants a pill to cure their ills. So many are in a hurry and don’t want to take the time to understand and solve the underlying causes. They want a miracle pill. Sadly, this is the way many of us take care of (or ignore!) our body.
It may come as a surprise to you, but a miracle pill is a myth.
For those who are searching for that miracle pill, it just doesn’t exist. But based on marketing and media hype, you would think that it is real. As a matter of fact, hundreds of companies and as many health gurus are claiming that their products offer the miracle to health, longevity, and even perfect sex. It reminds me of the “Fake News” in politics.
Getting down to the nitty gritty, I wonder:
- Why do most people not question why they have a disease in the first place?
- Don’t people realize that their disease did not occur overnight?
Biologically, it may take weeks, months, years, even decades to get to the point where a disease may surface and become an obvious problem.
Even in the world of a raging pandemic, treatments and vaccines are being investigated feverishly to stop the manifestation and devastation of the virus. Researchers are scampering for a cure. Yet they have little regard to uncover and address the real reasons the body can’t muster the resources to fight the virus by itself.
I get it! People need to be safe, disease-free, and pain-free.
For myself, I also need to be safe, disease-free, and pain-free!
When a microscopic invader to our body has the potential to cause death, we need something to prevent and eventually cure it ASAP. If a virus is life-threatening, something must be done.
Of course, these efforts are necessary. But only treating the manifestations of disease will not make us healthy. It just makes us continuously vulnerable for another serious event. We must help our body reach peak efficiency to fight the fight itself.
In search for a magic pill, most people are looking at prescriptions, over-the-counter meds, or dietary supplements. They want something that fights the battle for them.
For the general public, dietary supplements have become the “go to” miracle pills. 77% of American adults consume dietary supplements and spend about $56 per month on them. These supplements consist of:
- Amino acids
They come in all doses to replace what apparently is deficient in our body. Or they are reported to stimulate the body to do what it is supposed to do naturally. One question I propose is this: “Are the “normal ranges” of nutrients our body requires accurate?”
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) were first determined in 1943 from “healthy humans” eating a “healthy diet”. These RDAs have been revised since then. But I have my doubts about their accuracy.
From what I know based on my research, most humans in the US are metabolically unhealthy and their diet is inflammatory and not nutrient-dense. So, how correct can these normal ranges be when they are based on individuals with questionable metabolic health and questionable diets? Yet, we are told by healthcare professionals, and we read on the Internet, that we must have a specified amount” of “X” nutrient to be healthy.
Regarding the supplement industry, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner in 2019, stated, “The growth in the number of adulterated and misbranded products — including those spiked with drug ingredients not declared on their labels, misleading claims, and other risks — creates new potential dangers.” He went on to say, “What was once a $4 billion industry comprised of about 4,000 unique products, is now an industry worth more than $40 billion, with more than 50,000 — and possibly as many as 80,000 or even more — different products available to consumers.”
And in 2020, the world of supplements is growing exponentially with little oversight and sketchy research.
Companies are making enormous profits on the heels of fear. And now with the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe the supplement industry is out of control. The phrase “improve your immune system” is being used as a catch phrase. It reels people into the misguided necessity of taking a boatload of worthless and potentially harmful processed products daily. It is pathetic in my view.
Problems with Supplements
Quality and specific supplements have their place. When used therapeutically along with treating the underlying causes, supplements may be critical. But there are many concerns and problems with supplements in general:
- Most are synthetically made
- Some supplements are created with nanoparticles, which independent research has determined to be toxic to DNA in human cells
- When natural components are derived from their source, they are extracted, isolated, and processed without the inclusion of other biologically necessary components (many of which may be unknown by science)
- Processing natural nutrients can chemically damage these nutrients so that they don’t function biologically as they would in the food itself
- They are concentrated to the extent that the body may not be able to process them
- Many are compounded with “other ingredients” that are toxic and damaging to human cells and the gut microbiome
- The intent is to “adjust” a nutrient in the body to a “normal range” without addressing the real cause of the deficiency or overabundance
- They are not regulated by the FDA for purity or efficacy
- Combining several supplements can increase the risk for side effects
- It is easy to overdose
- Most of the benefits are anecdotal rather than based on peer-reviewed, double-blind, clinical human trials
I may have stepped on a lot of corporate and practitioners’ toes with this article. And I may be ridiculed for my outspoken words. Possibly, I will be ostracized from the “alternative healing” community. But I believe that pushing questionable supplements on the general public for daily use is a topic that does not get the necessary press it deserves.
In contrast, I have used specific supplements successfully with my patients as temporary adjuncts to enhance active treatment. But today, I know much more than I knew just a few years ago.
Let me share two of my negative personal experiences:
- When I was creating my Unconventional Cancer Protocols, I received advice from several integrative physicians. Not one of these cancer gurus emphasized eating an animal-based diet or improving my immune system naturally. For the first couple of months after my diagnosis, one doctor had me take over 60 supplements a day. Most of these capsules and tablets were synthetic chemicals. And all included added ingredients, which amassed to create damage to my gut microbiome. I have completely removed all these supplements from my Protocols.
- A well-respected alternative healthcare professional whom I know is also a popular author. When I read that person’s wellness book, it led me to a website to take a quiz to see how healthy I was. I answered the questions as though I were a healthy senior. I knew how to answer those questions so that I would appear to be a perfect specimen. When I completed the extensive questionnaire and hit “submit”, it took me to another page that was supposed to summarize my current health. But that page attempted to sell me about $150 worth of supplements, which it stated that I needed to take daily to remain healthy. Whoa! In my opinion, this is fraud!
The Real Miracle Pill
The real miracle pill is not a pill. The real miracle pill is knowledge – the knowledge that helping your body regain metabolic health will recreate a robust immune system. This is no secret. A strong immune system is vital for overall wellness. The science has already been done and published. It just needs to be understood and implemented.
I have written about many functional ways to get real results, which the majority of these “supplements” claim to provide. To recreate a potent immune system, I recommend …
- Eating nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods
- Cycling in and out of ketosis for metabolic flexibility
- Recreating a diverse microbiome and a healthy gut
- Exercising efficiently
- Sleeping restoratively
- Reducing emotional stress
Do Your Research
Like me, dive into the research about the natural ways to reboot your immune system. Study human evolution and how our primal ancestors survived and thrived metabolically. I would never want to live in those days when our primal ancestors had to struggle with life. But their body was designed and evolved to function expeditiously. Understand what that means to your health today.
How could I be so arrogant to believe that today’s supplement industry is better prepared to improve our immune system than thousands of years of evolution? If you connect the dots as I have, you might appreciate the myth of a miracle pill, and you might embrace the concepts I have been describing.
Here are three sources that have accumulated an abundance of peer-reviewed medical papers and clinical results to come to the conclusions I have described:
- Paul Saladino cited hundreds of peer-reviewed medical articles in his groundbreaking and cutting edge book, The Carnivore Code.
- The Paleomedicina Clinic in Budapest, Hungary has treated over 5000 patients with serious chronic diseases through the use of a strict animal-based diet that excludes all supplements and prescription drugs.
- Travis Christofferson published his book, Ketones: The Fourth Fuel, which clearly explains how ketones derived from ketosis as well as exogenous ketones will create metabolic health and metabolic flexibility.
Check out my new training on the Better Belly Blueprint! You can watch it HERE.
Good info Al thank you
I think your post needs nuancing. There are some miracle pills in the supplement industry. Right now because of the pandemic it’s clear that vitamin D is one of them. And since vit D needs magnesium and K2, I would add those. It’s very easy to attack the supplement industry, but how about the pharmaceutical industry? Sorry, that’s what- about -ism. LOL. Are their cancer treatments really safe? effective? Do they recommend a ketogenic diet, which has good information to it, let alone a carnivore diet? No, they wouldn’t dare. They probably recommend a plant base diet at best, which is low fat, high carb, just what you probably should avoid. So let’s be honest, the pharmaceutical industry is a ‘miracle’ pill industry also, in fact their motto seems to be all their treatments are ‘life saving’. I don’t hear that from the supplement industry. The predominant health industry is the pharmaceutical industry not the supplement industry. I mean how many people actually turn immediately to supplements rather than chemo, radiation and surgery when diagnosed with cancer? Not many I think. I understand your point is that we should focus not on pills but nutrients from food but I don’t think you should grossly generalize either.
I agree with ellifeld that taking some supplements is probably a good idea for most people – partly because our modern lifestyle is far different than the life lived by our ancestors. Most of us spend 95%+ of our time indoors, so we don’t have nearly the sun exposure our ancestors did, which inhibits our ability to get enough Vitamin D from the sun. Some other supplements (such as curcumin) have been extensively studied, and do have anti-inflammatory effects. Tap water does not have the magnesium that natural spring water has, and how many of us are able to drink natural spring water? With regard to diet, very, very few of us eat a diet of 100% unprocessed, whole foods these days. And how many people eat salmon and/or sardines 2-3 times weekly? If you are not doing that, you may be deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids. I strive to eat a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet as much as possible, but I’m sure my diet is still much different than that consumed by our ancestors. The bottom line is that if we could all live the lifestyle, and eat the foods consumed by our ancestors, supplements would probably be unnecessary. But we can’t, so I choose to add a few supplements to make sure I am getting everything I need for optimum health. And ellifield is right that the pharmaceutical industry is what we should REALLY be wary of……….I eat a nutrient-dense diet and take a few supplements so that I can AVOID taking prescription drugs – virtually all of which treat symptoms of disease, not the root cause of disease.
I agree that a few supplements like Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 may be necessary for most of us. But instead of taking all the other synthetic and over-processed single-nutrient supplements, the better choice would be to supplement with desiccated organs that have all the nutrients and minerals with only the water removed. Here is an article I wrote about them: https://drdanenberg.com/4-perfect-supplements-1-perfect-diet/
Thank you Dr Danenberg for sharing your information.
As I am sure everyone has I have purchased many many supplements throughout the years. At some point you are echoing a thought that has passed through my thoughts as I read about the latest “quick fix” 😉 I stopped purchasing these things at some point and decided to focus on nutrition and exercise.
I will continue to follow you on your thoughts and findings with much appreciation.