A little history is at place here. There are a lot of misconceptions about food supplements. The origin of these supplements is not the health business as they often claim. Body Building made the use of supplements common good. End 50’s and during the ‘60’s the first supplements appeared in the USA and Russia. It was only in the early 70’s that the first supplements did enter the market in Europe and even later in Asia and Africa.
Bodybuilding slowly came into fashion. Movies did promote the male physic as superior with bulky muscles, wide shoulders and strong bulky arms. Atlas was the sample and many males started to dream of being the man in the picture. All around the world “hardcore” gyms sprung up and competitions evolved. A psychological part of interest is the fact that it is the male who have specific male-look preferences, not the female. Body Building is a strong personal choice.
Each training was heavy. Maximum repetitions and power were the rules. The body needed fast recuperation for the next day. Interested scientist discovered the use of proteins, vitamins & minerals and many other products. A new market was born. Due to a relative exploding market, the developments of production went faster than the actual science developed. Most supplements did enter the market without proper evidence or even quality control. Bodybuilders became the new group guinea pigs of the pharmaceutical industry. One after the other products were launched. Beautiful names with even more commercial promising texts and pretentions entered the retail market. The supplement business was born out of profit and marketing.
Slowly but steady the evidence developed that some products did have an effect on the body. Bodybuilding did proof it by trial and error. Effects could be measured. But Bodybuilding was a small market. When the evidence was collected the industry did move into the health market and for the first time products did enter the standard consumer market with health claims and became competition for traditional markets such as homeopathy, Chinese Traditional Medicine, Ayurveda and local herb dealers.
To protect the traditional existing market Governments were requested to start making laws and rules & regulations which all favored the established pharmaceutical produced products.
Before starting with the use of supplements it is important to understand some professional terminology in this field of practice;
1 / Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
One hundred percent RDA is the full amount recommended by the National responsible authorities of the ingredient from the supplement. The recommended daily allowance is set to number/amounts of product that is considered safe with no side effects. It is a general statement and not an individual subscription. Sometimes the individual doses can be higher or lower.
2 / Serving size; this is the suggested doses of the product. All other ingredient facts refer to this.
3 / Information on nutrients when they are present in significant levels, such as vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and sodium, and the percent Daily Value recommendation for consumption where a reference has been established.
4 / All other dietary ingredients present in the product, including botanicals and amino acids, for which no Daily Value has been established. They must be listed below those with a DV separated by a bar. The quantity present in each ingredient must be listed and they must be identified as having no DV.
5 / Herbal products must be identified by the common or usual name and the part of the plant used to make the supplement (such as root, stem or leaf). If the common or usual name is not listed in the Herbs for Commerce publishing, the Latin binomial name such as Tacoma mollis.HBK or Cecropia obstusifolia Bert. must be listed.
6 / Proprietary blends may be listed with the weights given for the total blend only. When this is done, components of the blend must be listed in descending order of predominance by weight.
Dosage units are listed as
An international unit (I.U.) is a standard unit of measurement of biological activity that is used for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and E) as well as for some hormones, enzymes, and vaccines. It is an internationally-recognized standard established by the International Conference for Unification of Formulae. One I.U. represents a different amount for different substances. The weight equivalents for fat-soluble vitamins are as follows:
(Vitamin A) 1 mg = 833 IU
Vitamin D 2.5 mcg = 100 IU
Vitamin E 1 mg = 1 IU
Every substance disintegrates, or becomes less potent, with time. Manufacturers sometimes intentionally make substances more potent than labeled in order to compensate for their disintegration and to give the product a longer shelf life. This is called building in an overage. Both the disintegration rate and the overage built in to offset disintegration can cause further variances between a product’s actual and labeled dosage amounts.
An expiration date indicates the date after which a product may no longer contain the labeled potency levels. This date reflects the disintegration rate of its ingredients as well as any overage built into the product. For professionals, the products are still useful until 2 / 3 years after the expirations date. Check content for contaminations. If a product has been opened and air has been in contact with the product, it is safety standard to dispose of this products at least a maximum of 6 months after opening. Stickering the product on the day of opening is handy for administrative purpose and keeps the daily practice safe.
Quality manufacturers include a lot number on all their products. Lot numbers are used to trace a product’s journey through the supply chain so that the origin of its ingredients can be determined. This is useful for checking the quality of the product or in the rare event that a product needs to be recalled.
Some labels contain a claim that a product meets a certain level of dissolution or bioavailability or that it is certified for a dissolution standard such as USP. Dissolution is the portion of an ingredient, usually expressed as a percentage, that dissolves in the human digestive tract, thereby making it available for absorption in the body.
Bioavailability (absorption) is a measure of the digestibility of a dietary supplement into the bloodstream. The combined effect of dissolution and absorption determines how much of a consumed ingredient ends up in the bloodstream.
Bioavailability is important because it indicates the degree to which consumption of a substance affects the level (status) of that substance in the body. A substance with poor bioavailability could have little or no impact and therefore provide no benefit