The Bioaccumulation of Environmental Toxins and the Need for Nutraceutical Medicine
“The magnitude of the bioaccumulation of environmental toxins is staggering, for they accumulate much quicker than they can be eliminated from the body. Many of them are unavoidable at this point from the food we eat, to the water we drink and to the air we breathe.”
At a time when so many have allergies, we must constantly be vigilant to avoid toxins. This is not an easy task since so many toxins are hidden, unseen or unknown. The saying “the straw that broke the camel’s back” seems fitting in this case. We can use this illustration to examine the various toxins we are exposed to on a daily bases, unaware that the last straw may be a simple additive found in your food or supplements—summed up in one term: bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation is when toxins build up in the food chain, and since the human species is at the top of chain, we are the ones most severely affected. Here is what happens at various stages:
- Toxins enter the food chain in minute amounts, often from human activity and are taken up by plants.
- The plants are eaten by primary consumers which are then eaten by secondary consumers and then eaten by higher level consumers.
- At each stage (trophic level) of the food chain, harmless substances are excreted but the toxins remain in the tissues of the organisms, so the concentration of toxin becomes the most saturated in the body tissues of the animals at the top of the food chain—humans.
A perfect example of bioaccumulation was the use of DDT as an insecticide in the 1950s and 1960s and how its detrimental effects were passed on to human health.
Last week’s newsletter “5 Things to Know Before You Buy Health Products” discussed some unknown facts in regards to non-medicinal ingredients within vitamins such as stearic acid or magnesium stearate. These additives are considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe); they are lubricants added to raw materials to prevent clumping, and can be also found in many food products. To elaborate, these trans-fats are typically derived from genetically engineered cottonseed oil that tends to have high levels of pesticide residue. In vitamin manufacturing magnesium stearate and steric acid coat every particle of the nutrients to allow the blend to flow more rapidly—bottom line is money, the procedure ensures that production schedules will meet profit targets.
There are health dangers and neurological studies point to the evidence that magnesium stearate may collapse cell membranes and selectively kill T-cells, the body’s natural killer cells.
When it comes to supplements the amount of steric acid added is relatively low, up to 25 mg per capsule. The FDA considers consumption of up to 2,500 mg per day of magnesium stearate to be safe but if we consider the bioaccumulation of toxins, we will see the picture more clearly. According to an article in Science Based Nutrition magnesium stearate is highlighted because of its use in food. “This product is commonly found in foods like meat, poultry, fish, grains, eggs, butter, and milk products and makes up to one-third of the saturated fat found in meats. In fact, the average intake of dietary stearic acid in American women is 5,700 milligrams a day and 8,400 milligrams a day in men.”
In an article written by Theresa Dale, PhD, CCN, NP, Founder, The Wellness Center for Research & Education, Inc. titled Really! Are Toxins in Supplements? she writes: “While toxicity is one problem, decreased absorption is another. In a study published in the journal Pharmaceutical Technology, the percent dissolution for capsules after 20 minutes in solution went from 90% without stearates to 25% with stearates. Clearly, stearates reduced the rate the capsule dissolved by 65%! This means delays in the absorption of nutrients. Therefore, individuals with impaired digestion may have particular difficulty absorbing nutrients coated with stearates.” And yet we find stearic acid and magnesium stearates in almost all dietary supplements and pharmaceutical drugs. Why is that? Is it for the profit alone, or has no one considered the possibility of bioaccumulation? In my estimation, until we are certain how magnesium stearate and stearic acid affect the body—especially when consumed over the long term—the ethical thing to do is to avoid using them altogether. This is why Doctor’s Choice stopped using them many years ago as the unknown risks were too great.
Other toxic additives to avoid are silicon dioxide, which makes vitamins weigh more, and natural flavors (often used for MSG) used to mask a poor-tasting supplement. Other toxic ingredients found in supplements include carnuba wax, titanium dioxide, crospovidone—which by the way is not absorbed orally (pulmonary emboli reported in autopsies)—, sucrose, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, aspartame, all maltodextrins (unless non-GMO), titanium oxide, carrageenan, acrylamides and cupric sulfate, among others. Today more than 10 000 chemicals are allowed to be added to food and food contact materials in the United States, either directly or indirectly. An estimated 1000 chemicals are used under a “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) designation process without US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval but what about the other 9000?
And then there are, of course, dyes. Every year food manufacturers pour 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes into US foods. Most food dyes are toxic, synthesized originally from coal tar and lately also petroleum which is the same source that is used for manufacturing synthetic vitamin B1, controversial for a long time. Many of the dyes have been banned because of their adverse effects on laboratory animals. We suggest reading the labels, as many are still being used in supplements and food manufacturing today, because all should be avoided at all costs. Doctor’s Choice does not use any toxic flow agents, fillers or dyes and our B vitamins are produced from organic plant-based foods.
We are slowly being poisoned on so many different levels which is why the next thing we need to consider are forever chemicals: polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These are largely unregulated and found in our food, water, homes, our offices, our supermarkets—practically everywhere. They increase the risk of high cholesterol, breast cancer, kidney cancer, and thyroid disease—just to name a few medical conditions. But many unknowns remain; there are thousands of PFAS with unique properties, potentially different toxicity levels and health effects.
The magnitude of the bioaccumulation of environmental toxins is staggering, for they accumulate much quicker than they can be eliminated from the body. Many of them are unavoidable at this point from the food we eat, to the water we drink and to the air we breathe.
I recognized the connection of increased disease and the amount of toxins being released a long time ago. Unfortunately, they were approved one by one with the assurance they were safe, and with no follow-up government oversight things quickly got out of hand. Then highly processed fast foods came, and increased obesity. “A new study from the Pentagon shows that 77% of young Americans would not qualify for military service without a waiver due to being overweight, using drugs or having mental and physical health problems.”
Synthetic pharmaceutical drugs seemed to be the solution for controlling the symptoms, but with one-third of the drugs having safety problems after FDA approval and 10% of them being recalled, people would need to deal with things on their own.
Should we let food to be our savior? Probably not yet. The WHO classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen yet that did not stop genetically modified organism (GMO) from being used for growing our food. With such a massive amount being utilized for these purposes, the risks of glyphosate have been re-evaluated instead of being banned from food production. Now it is no longer viewed as a known carcinogen. And then there are some that state vitamins are not necessary as you get everything from your food. You sure do get everything from your food but not your daily vitamin needs.
The pioneers of the vitamin movement intended supplements to be used for the shortfalls of our diet—due to the missing minerals and nutrients from the soil or the toxicity of oceans—and naturopathic doctors used them to treat disease conditions. Vitamins were not meant to be another toxic overload. The education process is massive, the product label is our only window for understanding what is in the bottle, and when it is hidden or obscured it could be detrimental to your health.
It is one thing to read the medicinal ingredients and another to understand how the products were manufactured, if they are in a state to be absorbed to the cells, where the raw materials were sourced or who owns the companies. As we have illustrated, the non-medicinal ingredients may appear innocuous yet they could be highly toxic. There is a need for label transparency, a full understanding of what is in the bottle so education is the only way.
When choosing food supplements ensure they are USP graded and not food or feed grade, plant based and not lab designed, and fit to be classified as a food supplement. Avoid additives, binders and colours of all kind. The only things acceptable will be inert fillers such as plant based cellulose fiber. If flow agents are needed, look for ascorbal palmitate which is fat soluble vitamin C. In case of tablets look for the toxic coating gents and for capsules chose vegetarian over gelatin. Keep this in mind and if the price looks too good, consider the above. Because you get what you pay for.
I have never shared my personal insight of my struggles in the natural health industry and I think this newsletter will be a good platform to finally do so. The pathway I chose as a naturopathic doctor has been an uphill battle from the very beginning: the more I tried raising awareness of raw material sourcing and product quality the more I was sidelined. When I witnessed the erosion of raw material quality with China entering the picture and the massive side-effects of pharmaceutical drugs I stood my ground, I spoke out to preserve the integrity of the natural health industry. I have devoted my entire life’s work to study of natural medicine because it is the industry I love deeply; properly prepared nutraceuticals are the only viable alternative to prescription drugs, but they come with a price. When my sales team would train retail accounts, they highlight the raw material sourcing used in the Doctor’s Choice brand but they never mention other brands since they were told by the supplement buyers not to talk about product quality as it made the other brands look bad. In my thirty-six years of research and product development my work has never been acknowledged by our trade association. A few years back we were nominated with our Thyrodine Thyroid Gland for the most innovative product of the year—this was our most challenging license to date, a 4-year battle with Health Canada to remove thyroid gland (hormone free) from prescription drug status to a natural health product status—a feat never accomplished before. But a deodorant became the winning product so needless to say this ended my quest for industry recognition.
I take the resistance as a challenge, to offset the challenges we produce Doctor’s Choice Videos for each of our formulations, and our Doctor’s Choice newsletters and Life Choice Academy for a detailed study on health and wellness. This way you become informed, empowered and in control for your supplement purchases. As for me, it is my life’s calling, the reason I am here on earth: to heal the nation, one person at a time!
- Dale, Theresa PhD, CCN, NP. 2012. Really! Are Toxins in Supplements? https://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/7/prweb9704531.htm
- Lindwall, Courtney and Ginty, Molly M. 2022. “Forever Chemicals” Called PFAS Show Up in Your Food, Clothes, and Home. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/forever-chemicals-called-pfas-show-your-food-clothes-and-home
- Lupkin, Sydney. 2017. One-Third Of New Drugs Had Safety Problems After FDA Approval. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/05/09/527575055/one-third-of-new-drugs-had-safety-problems-after-fda-approval
- Novelly, Thomas. 2022. Even More Young Americans Are Unfit to Serve, a New Study Finds. Here’s Why. https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/09/28/new-pentagon-study-shows-77-of-young-americans-are-ineligible-military-service.html
- Tebbey P. W. & Buttke T. M. 1990. Molecular basis for the immunosuppressive action of stearic acid on T cells. Immunology 70: 379-384.
- Trasande, Leonardo MD et al. 2018. Food Additives and Child Health. Pediatrics 142,2. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/142/2/e20181408/37584/Food-Additives-and-Child-Health
- Biology Online Editors. 2021. Trophic level.
- Science Based Nutrition. 2022. Magnesium Stearate.
 Biology Online Editors. 2021.
 See Tebbey P. W. & Buttke T. M. 1990.
 Science Based Nutrition. 2022.
 Dale, Theresa PhD, CCN, NP. 2012.
 See more on this topic here: Trasande, Leonardo MD et al. 2018.
 Lindwall, Courtney and Ginty, Molly M. 2022.
 Novelly, Thomas. 2022.
 Lupkin, Sydney. 2017.