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Beware of Rubbish Supplements – See a Professional

Beware of Rubbish Supplements - See a Professional

Greetings friends. Today I am going to talk about the rubbish supplements that people are buying from pharmacies, supermarkets and some health-food stores. Many of these supplements are total rubbish and not really doing a thing for you. These are VERY different from professionally recommended PRACTITIONER ONLY nutritional supplements and natural medicines you get from natural health practitioners. These are recommended as part of a therapeutic program and these MUST pass TGA scrutiny for safety and efficacy. You know these work otherwise professionals would simply not use them. I am focusing on two common supplements; Berocca and Centrum, both of which have been scrutinized in the past and were found to be lacking and then some! I want to point out that not all supplements are like this but in the interest of safety and effectiveness, I recommend that before you take any supplements, you consult with a professional first to make sure that you are getting what you really need and you are taking them correctly.

Berocca and Centrum – Foods Supplements That Are Not What They Seem

A popular supplement on the market is the multi-vitamin Centrum. I have come across many people who pop one of these daily thinking that they are helping themselves stay well. What many people don’t realize is exactly what is in this product. Centrum is a product produced by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, one of the largest drug companies in the world.

  • The dosages of most of the nutrients in Centrum are negligible and not even close to therapeutic levels.
  • The forms that the nutrients are provided in are the cheapest and the least absorbable forms.
  • Supplements that come in tablet form are often hard to digest and contain binders and fillers (more on this below).
  • Water-soluble nutrients (vitamin C and the B-vitamins) are either used or excreted within about 4 hours.

The Ingredients In Centrum

130423_centrum_multivitamin_and_mineral_supplementMany of the ingredients found is Centrum when analyzed were far from helpful to your well being, some were even found to be possibly harmful! You need to remember that these companies are about profiting from people’s lack of knowledge when it comes to health. Natural health products is big business now and sadly not all are honest about their products or their ingredients listed in their products. Australia still has one of the worst food labeling scenarios going at present and sadly a lot of rubbish is allowed through the net. So be aware. You are most likely not getting what you’ve paid for!

  • Calcium Carbonate – This is the least absorbable forms of calcium on the market. A very small percentage is actually absorbed.
  • Ferrous Fumarate – This form of iron is incredibly constipating.
  • Pregelatinized Corn Starch – This is used as a binder to hold all of the ingredients together. It is most likely a genetically modified corn which presents a number of problems for sensitive people.
  • DL-Alpha Tocopherol – This is vitamin E and they are using two forms. The “D” form which is natural and the “L” Form which is synthetic. The “L” form is used to “water-down” the more expensive more bioactive “D” form.
  • BHT Butylated hydroxyanisole has been shown to be toxic to the liver, thyroid, kidney, lungs, and affecting blood coagulation. BHT can act as a tumour promoter.
  • FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake – Why is there food colouring in a health supplement?
  • Hydrogenated Palm Oil – Hydrogenating any oil turns the oil rancid and makes it into a strong free radical. Free radicals promote cancer and heart disease.
  • Nickelous Sulfate and Tin – I have never come across any nutrition book discussing a nickel or tin deficiency. Have you? We most likely don’t need to supplement it.
  • Sodium Benzoate A preservative that may cause organ toxicity.
  • Talc Has been shown to cause cancer.
  • Sodium Aluminosilicate – Used as a food additive for its anti-caking effect.


berocca-product-footerBerocca was originally manufactured by Roche, but is now manufactured by Bayer after Bayer’s global acquisition of Roche Consumer Health in January 2005. Bayer is a german chemical and pharmaceutical company founded in Germany in 1863. It’s original brand was Aspirin in 1897. Bayer was part of IG Farben, a German chemical industry conglomerate of dye making corporations. Its name is taken from Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie, meaning “community of interests” . The company was formed in 1925 from a number of major chemical companies that had been working together closely since World War I. During its heyday IG Farben was the largest chemical company in the world. IG Farben was involved in numerous war crimes during World War II. It was seized by the Allies in 1945 and liquidated in 1952. It still nominally exists as an asset-less shell, with the stated goal of paying restitution to the victims of its many crimes in the form of compensation.

Ingredients of Berocca

The packaging of Berocca lists; Citric acid, sodium hydrogen carbonate, vitamin C, magnesium sulphate, mannitol, calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, flavouring, sodium carbonate, niacin, sweeteners (see below for list of sweeteners), salt, zinc citrate, colour, pantothenic acid, maltodextrin, riboflavin, thiamin, acacia gum, vitamin B6, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, sugar, trisodium citrate, antifoaming agent (polysorbate 60), Folic acid, Vitamin E, Biotin, Vitamin B12.

A note on some key ingredients

  • Sweeteners – many are used but probably the one to really note here is acesulfame.
    Acesulfame Postassium or Acesulfame K is made with the solvent Methylene chloride, it is the substance that may give the food additive its potential carcinogenic characteristics. In addition, exposure to methylene chloride for long periods of time may lead to such side effects as: Breast tumors, Chronic respiratory disease, Depression, Headaches, Kidney and liver problems, Leukemia, Lung tumors, Mental confusion, Nausea, Visual disturbances. Acesulfame potassium may also increase the appetite, by tricking the satiety signals of our body. When consuming products that contain this artificial sweetener, cravings for extremely sweet foods may develop. In these conditions, taste perception is changed and the taste of fruits and vegetables do not feel tasty anymore.
  • Calcium Carbonate –  This is the least absorbable forms of calcium on the market. A very small percentage is actually absorbed.
  • Flavouring – Nature Identical Flavour, flavour, natural flavour and artificial flavour are much the same substance with a few subtle changes to the beginning process. If it is nature identical or natural it means that the food flavour began with the actual food but in the end they all end up the same. For instance here are the ingredients (if you can call them that) of strawberry flavouring (Souce Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation) amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amylketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), ?-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, ?-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

So when you read flavouring of any type in your supplements don’t think it is just one ingredient it is around 48 chemicals and ingredients.

  • Partially hydrogenated soybean oil – The partial hydrogenation of any oil creates trans-fat, a fat which have been noted to cause an increase in heart disease. Now I know there will be negligible amounts of this fat, the fact that it is even being used makes me over the top suspicious of this supplement.
  • Colour – many colours are made from azo dyes and petroleum by products so it is just another thing that should be avoided. Some colours have been identified as causing hyperactivity, on set of asthma and dermatitis. Some colours have been banned in other countries while still allowed in Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand.

Depending on which country Berocca is sold in, it may contain between 40mg -271 mg of sodium (In Australia and New Zealand it is 271 mg). It comes in three flavours, Orange, Mixed Berries and Tropical. The effervescent tablets contains 25 to 275mg d-mannitol, 20mg acesulfame potassium and 25mg aspartame, 6 mg sucrose, 13.44mg polydextrose and 94mg lactose, this is how much is used to sweeten the product. In March 2011 the Health Department of Australia moved to withdraw the advertising of Berocca for its unsubstantiated claims of providing invigoration. This came in the wake of the same department issuing Berocca with a Healthcare product award in November of the year before. Unbelievable!

Food V Supplements

Of course whole foods from organic sources are the best way to get your much needed nutrients in a general sense. A well designed daily smoothie with lots of fresh superfoods and whole foods is the best way to ensure optimal nutrition if you are looking for a general daily boost and optimal well being. If you are not at your best and testing has shown you have deficiencies and the need for natural medicines, then professional “practitioner only” supplements are very useful in helping to correct these imbalances. As I said in the beginning of this article, these are best sourced from and taken under the guidance of your natural health practitioner to ensure best outcomes. Often times these need only be taken for relatively short periods of time or if in some circumstances they are needed longer, then professional guidance and adjustments to your dosing is essential for best outcomes.

Well there you have it friends. I hope this has helped you gain some clarity.

Until next time, be well, naturally.


Craig Hitchens – Natural Health Practitioner + Remedial Therapist.




My own Clinical Knowledge


Alternative & Natural Health Disclaimer:

The information contained in this article is accurate at the time of posting but may change thereafter. The information provided on the various natural health subjects from this website of is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as any form of medical advice. The information in the article this disclaimer is linked from is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your health professional before taking any products or following any advice that you believe may conflict with other forms of health care. Always consult your health care professional before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your health professional before use.



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