The focus of today’s blog is ‘off the shelf’ products, and what they can mean for your health. By ‘off the shelf’ products, I am talking about those products you can walk into any health food store, chemist or supermarket, and grab right off the shelf. You don’t need to talk to a naturopath or nutritionist, you don’t need a prescription, you can just buy them as you please.
I occasionally work at Flannerys in Robina on the Gold Coast, and I am very proud to say that this health food store ONLY stocks exceptionally high quality products. It also staffs fully qualified and ensured naturopaths and nutritionists, guaranteeing that customers are given only top quality advice. Having worked in this environment since I graduated, I find I often need to educate some customers about the difference between off the shelf products, and naturopathic only products.
Bigger is Better?
I often shudder when I pass the huge bins of cheap fish oil or glucosamine out the front of pharmacies. As a society we seem to be programmed to find a bargain. Why would you want 120 capsules of fish oil for $45.00 when you can buy 300 capsules for $9.95? It’s all the same, right? Absolutely not! I don’t want to just pick on fish oil here, but it seems to be the most popular in this category. When you buy your 300 cheap fish oil capsules, you can guarantee a few things.
Firstly, you are getting the lowest strength fish oil available. This means to be effective, you’d need to take MORE capsules. So to benefit from the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil, you would need to take at least 10 regular, cheap capsules. With a higher quality (and more expensive product) you don’t need to take nearly that many! This may actually save you money. Your 300 will only last you a month if you take it in optimal levels, not ‘forever’ as you might have thought, taking one or two per day.
Secondly, you are getting a lesser quality product. In Australia we have strict guidelines of quality control of products, but there is a bit of leeway as to just how good the product might be. Picking on fish oil again, there are allowable levels of heavy metals found in fish oils in Australia. The more expensive fish oil brands have said “We know ‘this much’ mercury is allowable is fish oil, but we don’t want any in our products!” Therefore the purity and quality is much higher in the higher priced product.
And finally, product degradation. Usually, these huge sale items are shipped in to the shop in pallets, stored in warehouses and not always kept in the best environment possible to promote health. Products you pay more for will usually cold ship their products, ensuring that their oil is not damaged by heat or light on the way to the store in which you buy it. Good quality fish oil is best stored in dark glass, and kept cool, away from direct sunlight. Your 300 capsules are arriving in their plastic container, often heated from the transport truck. The oils inside can easily go rancid, reducing any benefits you might get in the first place, and often causing reflux and nausea.
This is turning into quite a big blog, so I will continue with part 2 tomorrow!