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Walgreens, GNC, Walmart, and CVS don’t always sell supplements. But when they do, they’re fake. Oh wait, they actually DO always sell supplements. And they’re still fake. At least according to New York’s Attorney General (aka my new favorite politician), who is going after these fraudsters. My previous rants on supplements and GNC have focused on the fact that a teenager making minimum wage with no nutrition experience or education can advise you on dietary supplements that are very poorly regulated by the FDA if he happens to work at GNC (or Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, etc).

This time though, the focus is on the fact that not only did these four retailers try to sell you poorly regulated crap you don’t need, they also lied about the crap that was in it! According to a write up in the New York Times:

“The authorities said they had conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — and found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.”

In addition, some supplements at Target also tested negative for the herbs on their label. Basically, those ginkgo baloba pills you bought for “vitality” were really powdered garlic and powdered rice. Hell, I could have just made you some stir fry! 

The New York State AG sent cease and desist letters to those four retailers. And of course industry reps are trying to pass this off as “bad practices from fringe companies”. Sorry guys, CVS is not a “fringe” company. 

The morel of the story (rant)?

If you put it in your mouth, it should come from a trusted source (I know, I know, that’s what she said). Don’t get me wrong, I like CVS and shop there often for anything from bandaids to makeup to all of my life saving insulin prescriptions (although if you’ve read my blog long enough you know I can’t stand GNC and Vitamin Shoppe). I just don’t think you should be getting your supplements there.


Think You Need A Supplement? Follow these steps:

  • Identify exactly what problem or deficiency you are addressing with it, and if you can reap the same benefit from a dietary change. For example, if I am tired all the time and find I have low iron, I may choose one of the following: take iron supplements, increase my intake of iron rich foods, or take iron supplements for a few weeks to replete my stores, while increasing iron intake from food over the long term. 
  • Do your research, to make sure that supplement actually addresses your problem. To use the iron example above, it is pretty well established that taking an iron supplement improves blood iron levels. It is not as established that garlic pills promote weight loss, that a cranberry supplement can prevent UTIs (there is some evidence this works for some women, but nothing is concrete), or that ginkgo paloba will increase your vitality.
  • Make sure you get it from a safe, quality source. Third party tested products are best, and NSF tends to be the cream of the crop of that testing. If a supplement is tested, it will have a label on the bottle indicating so. You can also search the NSF International Directory for certified products. 

You can read the full article about what the NY AG is doing in the New York Times.

Photo 1 c/o Adam Jackson Photo 2 c/o Health Gauge 

24 Jun 2014

Feeling Beat-up?

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There are many things throughout the day that cause us stress; work, family, traffic (especially this!), the foods we eat, exercise. And all of these stressors contribute to inflammation. Many of us may not realize that we are inflamed, but it manifests itself in such things as stiff muscles and joints, knots and swollen muscles, skin rashes, colds and other things you may not think of of as “inflammation.” Here’s a link to a good article written by Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple called “What is Inflammation?” Take note where he mentions that inflammation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s our body’s natural response to injury, pain, illness or stress. 


While I could spend a lot of time discussing inflammation, I think Mark might be a little more qualified to talk about it more than I am. So, I’m going to use this opportunity instead to talk about a great way that I’ve personally used to reduce my inflammation. Most of my inflammation is the result of my training here at CFB. I eat a fairly clean diet (at least now I do), I have few external stressors in my life (did I get enough sleep last night before I had to wake up at O dark hundred to be in to coach?), and I have no major injuries (for now… thankfully). So my training leaves me pretty beat up. I am consistent with getting mobility work in every day, mostly because I know that it will make me feel better for my next workout. When I start getting to the point where I am spending almost an hour on mobility to get ready for a workout, I know that something has to give.


Luckily my training has some built in back-off weeks where I still do some work, but the volume is much lighter and it affords me the opportunity to focus on my recovery. During this time, I go in for a 60-90 minute massage (every month). This always gets me ready to do some solid work in the coming weeks, plus I always feel like a million bucks after I leave. I also increase my protein intake a bit for muscle recovery; eat a lot more fruits and veggies for their vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; and double my fish oil intake.  See I know that the reason my muscles are tight and screaming at me every day is because they are inflamed from the work I am making them do for me day-in and day-out. Fish oil makes me physically feel better. My muscles become less swollen and my joints seem to lose their snap, crackle, and pop. Not to mention the other health benefits I reap from the increase in fish oil consumption. 


When I went to Regionals to cheer on Carla, I did a little bit of booth hopping checking out all CrossFit products. I came across the Pure Pharma booth. I know them for their high quality fish oil, Vitamin D and Magnesium supplements. After a short conversation, I was asked if CrossFit Boston would like to carry their products to offer our members the benefits of their products. I brought this idea to Neal, and he said he wasn’t interested in carrying the products himself, but I could if I thought we had a need for it at the gym. And I did just that. I am now carrying Pure Pharma products at CFB. I believe we have some of the best protein we can get at CFB, and I wanted to carry something that we can all get benefits from. See I think (unfortunately) that a lot of members see taking a post-workout shake as something for a “competitive” CrossFitter. I don’t agree, but I think that we can all agree that EVERYBODY can reap the benefits of Fish Oil. That is why I decided to carry Pure Pharma. They are the best in the business, and it is in everyone’s interest to get the best stuff available to them. 


I am carrying the entire Pure Pharma line.  You can check it out here, and if you have questions, would like more information, or are interested in starting to see the benefits of these great products, you know where to find me. 



I have been using this supplement for the last 2 months.  I really like it.  I can definitely go deeper into that dark place.  Watch this.


Using “FRAN” To Prove The Effectiveness of Extreme Endurance from XENDURANCE on Vimeo.