Posts filed under ‘Contaminants’

A Course in Supplements: How to Know if a Supplement is High Quality – Part II


By the NEEDS Wellness Team

NEEDS is excited to start a blog series on the importance of supplementation. There are so many supplements on the market; it is difficult to decipher supplements you need and which brands or forms of vitamins are best. We’re here to help!

In our last blog, we discussed the importance of looking at how the raw materials in a supplement are sourced. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of the manufacturing process and the physical characteristics of the supplement in question.


What part of the herb is used? Is it the same part shown in studies to contain the active ingredient? Is the final product tested for potency? Some less-than-ethical companies actually buy the “straw” left over from an extraction process to make tinctures, then encapsulate the spent herb, label it, and sell it as a regular herbal supplement.

Some nutrients and herbal compounds are best rendered with solvents. Is the final product tested for solvent residue? If present, these residues must be detoxified by the body—not always easily accomplished. Also, does the company test the final product for microbial contamination, such as bacteria or mold?

Several nutrients are derived from substances such as corn, wheat, soy, or dairy, to which some may be sensitive. Many can tolerate small amounts of these substances, others require an ultra-clean product that is either highly purified or extracted from a more expensive agent.

If you take fish oil, how is it prepared? Is it extracted and packaged in an oxygen-poor environment to help prevent rancidity? Most quality fish oil manufacturers will test their final products for rancidity.

If probotics such as Acidophilus and Bifidus are part of your regimen, does the company who makes them guarantee that there are live, viable organisms in their product? How long will they be stable and at what temperature? What was the growth media for the probotics? If a person is sensitive to dairy, it may be best to use a probotic grown on beets or chicory, for instance.


Finally, what are the physical characteristics of the tablet or capsule? Are the binders, fillers, flowing agents, colorings, etc., nutritive or benign? Can they result in negative side-effects? Yellow Dye #5 and Red Dye #1, for instance, have been associated with Attention Deficit Disorder and migraines, as well as many other conditions. Tablet or capsule, dissolution rates are also of paramount importance; both must dissolve at the precise time in order for your body to use the nutrients.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of supplement ingredients and qualities available. If you have adequate stomach acid or assimilate nutrients well, you may be fine taking a medium-grade supplement. On the other hand, if you do have certain health conditions or sensitivities, you will want to use physician-grade supplements.

July 9, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

A Course in Supplements: How to Know if a Supplement is High-Quality – Part I


By the NEEDS Wellness Team

NEEDS is excited to start a blog series on the importance of supplementation. There are so many supplements on the market; it is difficult to decipher supplements you need and which brands or forms of vitamins are best. We’re here to help!

We’ll embark on this series by discussing what constitutes a high-quality supplement. Not all supplements are created equal. The form of nutrient or part of the plant used, the process of extracting compounds from plants or oil from fish, and the fillers, binders, and other stabilizers used are just some of the factors that determine how well your body may utilize or tolerate your supplements.

So, the first question you want to ask is:


Where did the raw material(s) originate? If it’s an herb, is it organic or does the company test for pesticide and herbicide residues? Is the plant harvested when the active ingredients are at their peak? Is the material screened for dirt or other residue?

If it’s a fish oil product, what is the source of the oil? How were the fish raised: farmed or wild? Is testing or purification performed to make sure the oil is free of pesticides, PCBs, dioxins, heavy metals, and other pollutants?

If it’s a nutritional supplement, are the nutrients made or derived according to United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) standards? Are the nutrients in a form easily used by the body? For instance, it is easier for your body to use the calcium from calcium citrate than from calcium carbonate. Also, magnesium oxide, while great for constipation relief, is poorly broken down and absorbed across the intestines. We will discuss the most easily absorbed forms of a variety of nutrients in a later blog.

In our next supplement series blog, we will discuss the importance of the manufacturing process and the physical characteristics of the supplement.

July 2, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Healthy Mouth = Healthy Person

Submitted by Everyday Throat Spray

BreatheSeasonal allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to pollen from flowers, weeds, and trees, causing the body to release an inflammatory substance called histamine. The symptoms from these allergens include sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing, and irritation in the throat.

A good throat spray can help alleviate allergic irritation, with ingredients such as osha root and echinacea. Throat spray can also relieve a sore throat from a cold, remedy bad breath, and prevent periodontitis, a condition that can lead to more serious health problems such as heart disease.

A Natural Solution
Everyday Throat Spray is an all-natural, certified-organic throat spray that was designed to address everything from bad breath to a sore throat. The secret to Everyday Throat Spray is its very unique formula which was made in conjunction with a medical herbalist. For throat sprays to be effective, they need to be used on a regular basis, so we took care to create a flavor that tastes great. The following ingredients in Everyday Throat Spray address all aspects of treating infections, viruses, and inflammation to maintain good oral health.

Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver has been known as a remarkably effective natural antibiotic for centuries. It aids in killing unwanted bacteria to help keep the mouth, gums, and throat healthy and fresh.

Osha Root
Osha has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it the ideal antidote for viral infections of the sinuses, throat, and upper and lower respiratory systems. It helps bring up respiratory secretions and relaxes smooth muscles, making it beneficial for coughs and asthmatic breathing difficulties.

Echinacea supports the immune system to reduce infections and relieve sore throats.

Ginger helps create a feeling of warmth and well-being. It has an anti-inflammatory action and helps alleviate persistent coughs, colds and flu, and other related problems of the respiratory system.

Licorice’s effect on respiratory problems is mainly due to the presence of glycyrrhizin in it, which acts as an expectorant and helps prevent and ease coughing. Glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times sweeter than sugar lends a subtle, sweet flavor, and acts as an anti-inflammatory and antiallergenic.

Peppermint Oil
The essence of peppermint has both cooling and warming properties, and gives a pleasant flavor to the throat spray.

May 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Is Your Water Bottle Safe? BPA Dangers

Plastic is one of the defining characteristics of modern life. Try to go a day without using plastic; it’s difficult! The sad truth about plastic products is that they contain chemical components that can harm the environment and your health! One such chemical is called Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is one of the most widely-used synthetic components in the world. Most of the clear, shatter-proof plastic used in baby bottles, food storage containers, and rigid water bottles contain this chemical. Plastics that have the recycle symbol with the # 7 likely have BPA. BPA is also widely found in the lining of beer and soda cans, as well as the lining of various canned food products. BPA is an estrogen-mimicking molecule and therefore disrupts systems in our bodies that are influenced by the estrogen hormone. BPA leaches from plastic and can easily end up in our systems! CDC scientists measured BPA in the urine of 2,517 individuals aged six years and older who took part in a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and found BPA in the urine of nearly all of the people tested, which indicates widespread exposure to BPA in the U.S. population.

Should we be worried about this finding? Absolutely! Scientists have known that BPA is an endocrine-disrupter since the 1930s. In the past ten years, researchers have been aggressively investigating the potential harms of BPA and the findings are frightening. BPA has been linked to early onset of puberty, infertility, miscarriages, birth defects, abnormal brain development, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, three types of cancer (breast, prostate, and uterine), and asthma.

How do you avoid BPA exposure? Most importantly, stop storing your water and beverages in plastic bottles that have the recycle symbol and a number 7 on them. As an alternative, use stainless steel water bottles or opt for the new glass water bottles by LifeFactory, which are free of BPA and other harmful chemicals found in plastic (such as PVC). Also, avoid heating plastic containers, whether it’s heating them in a microwave, leaving them out in the sun, or washing them in a dishwasher; the heat will accelerate the breakdown of the chemicals in the plastic, making the chemicals more likely to leach into your food. Look for canned food options that are BPA-free, such as products from Eden Foods. Another step you can take is to tell Congress to ban BPA in our food products. Sign a petition here: In Japan, when BPA-lined food cans were outlawed, tests showed that the population’s BPA levels dropped significantly. We can only hope that our voices will be heard and that this harmful chemical will be banned in our country as well!

July 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

The Dirty Dozen List for 2010

While shopping for produce, have you ever wondered which veges and fruits are most pesticide laden, and therefore making it more essential to pick the organic version? This great “Dirty Dozen” list, published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) outs the most chemically laden produce.

The EWG’s research shows that people who eat five fruits and vegetables a day from the Dirty Dozen list consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Yum.

If you’re familiar with the old list, you’ll notice a few changes in the latest iteration. Celery, which formerly was the fourth filthiest produce pick, is now top of the heap. Pears and lettuce dropped off the Dirty Dozen list this year (though they’re still not the cleanest). And blueberries and kale got the honor of joining the list this round—blueberries rank fifth for pesticide residue and kale ranks ninth.

Dirty Dozen

1. Celery
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Apples
5. Blueberries
6. Nectarines
7. Bell peppers
8. Spinach
9. Kale
10. Cherries
11. Potatoes
12. Grapes (imported)

Note: Due to the fact that pesticides are stored in fat, non organic meat and butter contain high levels of pesticides.

The Clean 15
Low pesticide residue foods that are not organic; eating these foods can reduce exposure to pesticides by 90% by exposing you to only 2 pesticides per day.

Sweet corn (although often genetically modified)
Sweet peas
Sweet potatoes
Honeydew melons

Eat Well and Shop Wisely!!!

July 18, 2011 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

Black Mold Exposure: It Can Happen to You!

A Review of the New DVD Movie by Michael Roland Willams
By Dr. Jen Morganti

This must-see documentary begins with the camera panning through a couple’s sparsely furnished house where every item is covered in plastic. The chairs, the tables, the computer keyboard, and every other item is sealed in plastic and covered in cloth. As the story unfolds, we discover that this almost obsessive sterilization process is absolutely required for this couple to exist in their environment. Any type of slight contamination sends their health into a tailspin, causing anything from skin rash to migraines to vomiting. The couple spends hours washing articles of clothing (especially when they are new), dusting,cleaning, and plastic-wrapping every new item they introduce to the home to prevent off-gassing. They spend an entire weekend tediously wrapping and rewrapping a new couch they bought, but nothing prevents them from having a reaction and they must return it.

Imagine being so sensitive to every odor in household products, food, furniture, clothing, carpet, your car, and even outdoor air, that you become ill to the point of dysfunction. You must isolate yourself from other people because of the products they wear. You are unable to work because your work environment makes you ill; the doctors don’t believe you and neither does your family. This film documents the daily struggles of real people with these extreme sensitivities to everything in their environment, all because they were exposed to high levels of toxic mold.

Mold and fungus are critical to a balanced ecosystem, but overgrowth of mold in living spaces can be inhaled, and over time exposure can cause multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). Molds such as Aspergillus, Fusarium,and Penicillium are some of the offending factors that can be toxic. The symptoms that mold exposure can cause are common and non-specific, such as fatigue, asthma, abdominal pain, dizziness, vomiting, hearing loss, and skin rash.

MCS can be caused by chronic exposure to any kind of toxin, including mold, chemicals, heavy metals, and more. It is not a widely-accepted diagnosis within the medical community, due in part to lack of education in medical school as well as the fact that the American Medical Association hasn’t given it credibility. Some of the doubt continues because patients present a long list of non-specific symptoms and there is no definitive lab test to determine a diagnosis. As a result, a person suffering with MCS symptoms may get passed from doctor to doctor without getting any help. During the course of this unproductive process, people with MCS may instead
become labeled as mentally ill, liars, money grubbers, or whiners. The skeptics may argue, why is it that only some people become ill when living in an environment contaminated by black mold or other toxins, and others have no symptoms at all?

Some researchers believe that genetic susceptibility explains why some people are sensitive and others are not. In this documentary, several experts weigh in, including Dr. William Rae, pioneer of environmental medicine and director of the Environmental Health Center of Dallas. His experience shows that people can recover from MCS, but everyone’s physiology is different, so treatments and successes will vary.

This documentary is valuable to anyone. If you suffer from MCS, it is a great movie to share with friends and family, and if you are healthy, it shows us how we should be both careful and aware about hidden dangers lurking in our environment.

July 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm 3 comments

Hidden Dangers in Your Drinking Water


The safety of your drinking water has been compromised by municipal treatments, industrial waste, and unreliable government regulation that leave dangerous cancer-causing byproducts in your glass. There has been an alarming increase in the amount of contaminants in drinking water supplies, both in big cities and small towns. Each time we hear of another waterborne disease outbreak, we wonder whether the benefits of drinking tap water outweigh the risks. These newly discovered contaminants that may be in your water include MTBE, Arsenic, and Trihalomethanes.
MTBE is a chemical added to gasoline to reduce carbon monoxide emissions from automobiles. However, because of the toxic health effects, many states are phasing it out and will eventually ban it. MTBE is toxic and causes eye irritation, tearing, nasal discharge, trouble breathing, nausea, and is a probable carcinogen. MTBE has leaked into ground water throughout the U.S., over a period of years. Reports of hundreds of people becoming ill have come to light and are connected to MTBE contamination in drinking water.
No one would purposely add arsenic to the water supply—yet arsenic has been found in thousands of water supplies serving over 12 million people across the U.S. Studies have linked long-term exposure of arsenic in drinking water to increased rates of cancer of the bladder, lung, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate. Non-cancerous effects impact the cardiovascular, pulmonary, immunological, neurological, and endocrine systems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a new arsenic standard for drinking water at 10 ppb (parts per billion) to protect consumers against the effects of long term, chronic exposure to arsenic in drinking water. All public water systems in cities, towns, apartments, mobile home parks, nursing homes, and factories will be required to reduce the arsenic concentration in their drinking water systems which will lower cancer deaths, chronic disease, and save hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs.
Trihalomethanes (THMs) are chemicals formed by the action of chlorine with naturally occurring organic matter in water. In January 2000, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease, published a study associating several different types of birth defects with the ingestion of Trihalomethanes (THMs). Also, exposure to THMs occur through exposure from showering, washing dishes, and flushing toilets. According to Erik Olson of the Natural Resource Defense Council, water supplies have as much as one-and-a-half to two times the amount of chlorine added in the summer months, increasing short term exposure and health risks.
The discovery of these toxins in munincipal drinking water is causing concern for many Americans. One of the most important things to do to protect yourself is install a water filtration system in your home. There are a variety of filters available that remove specific toxins and material. Filters can be placed at the source of water for the entire house, or at each faucet. The first step is awareness!

July 18, 2011 at 9:47 pm Leave a comment

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