[Transcript] – How To Know If Your Supplement Is Safe, Legal And Contains What It Says It Contains.

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast from:  https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/supplements-podcasts/how-to-know-if-a-supplement-is-safe/

[00:02] Thorne FX

[00:21] Introduction

[02:43] About Tom Nikkola

[05:30] How is a Multivitamin Made? From Idea to Conception to Final Product

[13:43] How to Know Whether Supplements Actually Contain the Exact Amount of Product that is on the Label

[15:47] What Kind of Third-Party Certifications you Should be Looking for on a Supplement Label

[36:14] Why Fillers, Binders, Excipients and other Additives are Added to Supplements and Which of these are Safe and Which are Not

[39:00] 4 Things To Completely Avoid in any Supplement, Capsule, Powder or Tablet

[49:29] Tom’s Three Favorite Supplement “Stacks” and Why He Chose Them

[1:11:36] End of Podcast

Ben:  This podcast is brought to you by Thorne FX who make the best supplements on the face of the planet.  You can check ‘em out over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/thornefx that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/thorne, the letter F and the letter X.

Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and I want to welcome you to this special edition of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  This is week two in which my usual podcast sidekick Brock is still off gallivanting somewhere around Europe probably eating spaghetti in Italy or maybe hanging out in a bar in Spain, I have no clue.

But anyways [laughs], I once again have a special guest with me here today to talk to you about nutrition supplements because that’s something that I get lots of questions about on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.  It seems not an episode goes by in which we don’t talk about some kind of a pill or capsule or powder or oil or something but it can be kind of this mysterious magical realm where it’s hard to know how this stuff is made, where it’s made, what the process is by which a supplement goes from like raw ingredients into its capsule form and finds its way into your refrigerator.  And then there’s a lot of other important questions that we’ve got to think about too, like how we know if the supplements that we’re using are safe or legal and how the supplement industry is actually regulated and what you should be looking for to know if your supplement actually contains what it says it contains because there are a lot of problems out there in the supplement industry, and I don’t know about you but when I open my refrigerator, I have supplements in it and just like the kale and tomatoes and the milk, like I want to know where it comes from and whether or not it’s going to do me good or whether it’s going to hurt me.

So my podcast guest today has been immersed in this industry so to speak, for almost a dozen years.  His name is Tom Nikkola and I’m going to put a picture of him in the show notes for this episode over at bengreenfieldfitness.com but he’s there in the show notes wearing his shirt that says ‘Butter Not Bread’ which I [laughs]… and Tom actually has an interesting story.  He was cured from leukemia when he was five and then spent years doing follow-up testing at the Mayo Clinic where during that time he thought about becoming a doctor but eventually after getting a pre-med biology degree began working in fitness instead, and he worked for the company Lifetime Fitness.  You may have been if you’re listening in into a Lifetime Fitness gym before.  Seeing a Lifetime Fitness gym that are very big fancy gyms and Tom worked for about 12 years there as a personal trainer and held various management roles and eventually held the position of Senior Director of Nutrition and Weight Management for Lifetime Fitness.  And while he was there he was responsible for all their nutrition and metabolism and weight management programs and products.  And beyond his standardized education Tom has read hundreds of books on fitness and nutrition.  I’ve sat down and talked with him a few times and he is a wealth of knowledge.

He has a personal library of about 900 published research papers and articles so kind of like me, he’s a little bit of a nerd when it comes to this stuff.  What Tom does now is he uses all these insights and experience to advice and build up one of the world’s leading fitness supplement brands called Thorne FX which produces supplements specifically along the lines of things for fitness professionals and people who are exercise enthusiasts.  So today, Tom’s going to walk us through everything we need to know, like I said, about whether supplements are safe or that they’re legal.  Whether they could potentially be unsafe basically, all of the little things that you need to know, and we’re also going to delve into some of Tom’s favorite supplement stacks and some of the other recovery and performance things we like to geek out on on this podcast.  So Tom, thanks for coming on the call, man.

Tom:  Yeah, thanks for having me, Ben.  I’m excited.

Ben:  So I want to start with my burning question which is when I’m holding my bottle of capsule multivitamins in this case and we did a podcast a few ago about this new Thorne FX multivitamin for example, like how is a multivitamin actually made? Like how does it go from all these raw ingredients that we turn around and look at the label like vitamin C and vitamin B and curcumin and all these stuff, like how does all of that wind up in the capsule? How do you actually make a multivitamin?

Tom:  It’s an interesting question.  I think the first place to start is oftentimes identifying who is going to be the user of that product and in most cases how much money are they willing to pay.  You know, you’ve got lower end multivitamin mineral products in retail stores that sell for five to eight bucks for a month’s supply and the intent with that product is to sell to somebody who is just willing to pay five to eight bucks, and say you basically try to find raw materials and formulations that can have somewhat of a label claim but still be at a relatively low price point.  So when somebody was very naive to nutritional products and maybe just beginning to start paying attention to what their nutrition and exercise looks like, when they go out to search for something and they hear that multivitamins are important they just see, ah, multivitamins, five bucks.  That’s a pretty good deal.  I’m going to buy that product.

So the place that it starts is oftentimes how much are people willing to pay or the other path that you can take in developing a product is to say, what do I want this multivitamin to do and what other kinds of constraints do we have in place? And so while most products are made with the price plan in mind that could be $5 to $8 to $30 or more from a retail standpoint, you can also say we want a product that’s going to have the most efficacious forms of nutrients.  We want to make sure that they’re at levels that are meaningful and then the last piece of it is trying to figure out how do you have a really great product and delivered in a way where people will take it on a daily basis.  So you mentioned the Multi AM:PM complex and when Mario Roxas, one of the naturopathic doctors on our team, when he and I sat down to look at that product we said, the one constraint we had in place is we have to be able to fit everything into three morning capsules and three evening capsules because once you go to four or five or something like that, it just becomes kind of silly.

Ben:  Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m getting at.  First like you talked about you sitting down with a doctor and talking about like what you want in a capsule, but I mean what happens from there? Like are you talking to a bunch of people who formulate these raw ingredients then they get somehow put into a capsule? Like how’s a multivitamin actually made? How does it go from being an idea to actually getting produced and put into a bottle? Like how’s that work?

Tom:  Yep.  So once that’s determined, you know, again, price point versus saying we’re going to have the best ingredients then a company like Thorne Research which is really the parent company of Thorne FX or a number of other manufacturers out there, they all have ingredient suppliers that they work with and like anything else, there’s some that are awesome and there’s some that are questionable and everything in between.  So from there we will identify an ingredient for example, folic acid or folate.  We use five methyltetrahydrofolate in our products, so that’s one out of a multiple of different ingredients that go into it but we have to be very specific about which nutrient we want and who’s the best supplier for that product.  Really for just about any nutrient that’s out there there’s going to be good and bad and everything in between.  There’s also different forms of nutrients.  So from a mineral standpoint we use a lot of Albion Minerals, their mineral chelates because they’re so beneficial as opposed to many mineral salts that are available on the market.

Ben:  Just a quick question.  So you said like Albion Minerals.  So is Albion the name of like a company that makes minerals, so you order from them and then they come to the factory and those get put into the multivitamin and it’s just kind of getting rinse washed and repeated with different folks who are sending in raw ingredients?

Tom:  Yeah, that’s exactly right.  The average person can’t call up Albion and say, “hey, I want some magnesium bisglycinate”, and they’ll ship it out.  I mean, Albion is shipping to manufacturers large volumes of raw materials and then those raw materials are sent to the manufacturing facility and so I’ll just use again our company as an example, Thorne.  And those products come in to the warehouse and before they actually get into the manufacturing facility, each product that’s shipped gets tested for various contaminants and for its purity and that kind of thing to make sure that what it says on the box of the raw materials is what’s actually inside.  The testing there isn’t quite the level that Thorne does it but Thorne does tests each, a lot of material that comes into the facility no matter how good their reputation is.  Then from there, once all of the materials for that multivitamin have been tested and shown to be purer and so on then basically each of those materials is put into this giant mix, if you will and blended for a period of time to try to make sure that all of that, the magnesium and the folate and the vitamin C and vitamin E and all of that is blended into a pretty consistent material.

Ben:  Is that literally like a blender? Like a giant blender?

Tom:  [Laughs] It’s like a giant blender, yeah.

Ben:  Wow.

Tom:  Yeah, they’re pretty cool.

Ben:  An enormous Vitamix for multivitamins.

Tom:  [Laughs] Yes.  That’s exactly right.

Ben:  So it’s all blended together after it’s been tested.  So basically, you order this stuff from the raw ingredient manufacturer, it gets to the factory.  It is first tested and later on I do want to ask you about different testing protocols and like how we know which tests actually to look for, but it’s tested and then it’s all blended?

Tom:  Right.

Ben:  Okay.  And then what happens?

Tom:  So then once you have the consistent mix it’s basically, you know you take this giant, like you said the giant Vitamix or the giant vat of material and it goes through various machines and machinery and gets placed into the capsules.  So there’s encapsulating machines that actually take just a little bit of that powder and put it into your capsule and kind of push the two ends together and from there you’ve got a bunch of individual capsules that then get flown in to the bottles.  The bottles get sealed.  The bottles go into a box and it’s pretty much ready to go.

Ben:  Okay.

Tom:  So the process sounds like it’s pretty fast but as you can imagine with the number of capsules that even are included in one box of a Multi AM:PM complex or something like that but there’s a lot of capsules going on.  It’s a pretty intricate process.

Ben:  Yeah, that’s not a question I want to ask you ‘cause like when I blend up my kale shake in the morning and I take a bite, some of my bites are going to contain like my cacao nibs and my coconut flakes and my kale and my avocado in different ratios than other bites that I might take and when you’re looking at a bunch of capsules coming out of a blender and getting put into a bottle, how do you actually know that a capsule contains say, the amount of minerals that the label says it contains or the amount of vitamin B or vitamin C or anything else.  How do you actually ensure that you’re not just grabbing too much of one ingredient and not enough of another from that blender container before the encapsulation process occurs?

Tom:  Yeah, that’s where something called good manufacturing processes come into play.  When a formula is designed, what will happen then is in the process of making that powder and trying to make sure that it’s consistent from one scoop to the next once it’s all blended.  There’s certainly a science to it to try to identify how long does that mix have to be mixing in order to have a pretty consistent blend of all of those materials so that from one capsule to the next and one bottle to the next you’re getting a pretty consistent amount.  Now just like you said in your own blender even if you left your Vitamix on for the next two years it wouldn’t be perfect but it’s reasonably close from one capsule to the next and so on.

Now what will also happen is you have some loss over the production time and some of the powder and stuff tends to end up on the floor and just gets wasted or what have you but that’s part of that good manufacturing process that when the product is first put into practice is the length of time that is blended will be identified and then from there it’s basically tested to say if we grab a little bit here, we grab a little bit there, are we getting consistent amounts of the nutrients like we expect?

Ben:  So you take that final capsule and then you actually test that final capsule well.

Tom:  Yeah.  Yup.  Yeah, the final product is tested as well.  Yeah.

Ben:  So when you’re looking at a label whether we’re grabbing the $5 bottle out of the bargain bin at Super Supplements or whether we’re ordering a $50 bottle online or whatever, are there certain things that we should be looking for on the label? Like you mentioned this certified good manufacturing practices and I’ve talked about that before in my podcast how we should look for the CGMP on any supplements that we’re taking.  But especially for people who are concerned about the potential for stuff being laced with steroids or hormones or it being safe to take for say like, sports and for athletes or being safe for someone who’s competing in a sanctioned race and doesn’t want to be worried about World Anti-Doping Association issues, stuff like that.  What kind of things in addition to this CGMP label should we be looking for on supplements?

Tom:  In the United States probably the most common extra identifier that people will see is NSF and there’s an NSF for Sport which I will talk about in a second but NSF is like a third party certification that comes in and says you’re following your GNPs, you have good standards in place, your paper work is the way that we expect it to be and so on.

Ben:  What is that just a bunch of dudes in lab coats that arrive at the factory or you just send in the capsules or how’s that work?

Tom:  (Laughs).  Yeah, I mean as a good summary is they’ll show up and they’ll just basically say that we’re to audit your facility and make sure that you’re following the regulations the way that you’re supposed to.  So you know, realities that there’s a lot of supplement companies out there and they’re not going to be there from one week to the next but they’ll stop in.  The FDA stops in about every two years and does an announced audit.

Actually, I had a planned trip out to Sandpoint, Idaho to a manufacturing facility this past summer and on Monday I was supposed to go fly out Tuesday morning and Monday morning I got a call saying, Hey Tom, we’ve got to cancel our plans the FDA just showed up at our doors at nine o’clock which wasn’t a big deal in terms of them actually finding anything that was being done wrong.  It just took everybody’s time during that week.  So and that’s how it should be.  There should be a week’s heads up to say, “hey, we’re going to be coming out so make sure that you clean your act up.”  They just show up.

Ben:  Right.  Exactly.  Probably a bad analogy but it’s kind of like when the cycling regulator show up at Lance Armstrong’s doorstep, right?

Tom:  Yeah.  [Laughs]

Ben:  They don’t call him up [laughs] a week beforehand to let him know.

Tom:  Yeah.  Exactly.  Now so like I’ve mentioned, the FDA comes in every couple years, NSF has a common certification, Thorne actually went with one called the Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia ,TGA, and the reason for that is Thorne Research our parent company has always done whatever it can to sort of push the limits in terms of product quality and make sure that it stands out from any of our competitors in terms of how we produce and the certifications that we have and that kind of thing.  So TGA certification is again a third party certification.  There’s three different levels of that certification that Thorne has gone through which basically says that if we so choose to we’d be able to make pharmaceutical products for Australia and many of the other companies that recognize TGA as the superior certification.  So Thorne will go through NSF just because it’s pretty common here in the United States that people are asking about it and that leads in to NSF for Sport but the three levels of TGA certification is what Thorne has done which is really the only company in North America that’s gone through all of that.

Ben:  So you look for NSF or you look for TGA like those two are the biggies.

Tom:  Yup.  TGA is definitely better.  There’s some other companies that have gone through like the first level of TGA certification that’s definitely something to recognize but like I said, there’s three levels of the two which at the third level we’re pretty solid across the world if you wanted to.

Ben:  But you’re going to do NSF for Sport either way?

Tom:  Yes.  So we didn’t do the NSF because we’ve done TGA for many years now but people are looking for some kind of certification to show that the products are free of banned substances and there’s two companies that do that.  Two main companies, Informed Choice and NSF for Sport.  So we’re actually going through the Informed Choice certification at the moment because we have to do NSF first and then we can do NSF for Sport.  So the company’s going through NSF and then no later in the year or maybe next year we’ll do NSF for Sport as well.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Before you use the word pharmaceuticals and how you talked about how TGA out of Australia is as strict as what they hold pharmaceutical brands to when it comes to quality of supplements.  And that kind of leads me into my next question because like I’ve been aware of this Thorne company for a long time just because various naturopathic docs that I’ve seen and physicians that I’ve spoken to on this podcast and elsewhere have kind of used Thorne with a lot of their patients.  This Thorne brand of supplements from everything from like herbal blends to vitamin blends to oils, et cetera, it seems that Thorne FX this new company is a little bit different than this Thorne brand that a lot of doctors are using.  Can you kind of explain the whole evolution of Thorne FX and how it’s different than something like Thorne?

Tom:  Sure.  Yeah.  So Thorne Research has been around since 1984 and has always like you’re saying, are kind of catered to the health care practitioner community and naturopaths, chiropractors, medical doctors that use nutritional supplements and so on.  And certainly has a little bit more of a clinical look to it and that kind of thing which it should, but as you mentioned I came from Lifetime Fitness and I really feel like fitness professionals have such an important role in health and fitness and not just sports performance but really helping to combat obesity and a lot of the diseases associated with it, so rather than trying to add fitness professionals into the group of people using Thorne Research, we wanted to kind of create a line with the same manufacturing and the same quality assurance and that kind of thing but a little bit of a different look, a little bit of a different design.  A little bit more in a way of connecting through social media and those kinds of things, so we launched Thorne FX in January as a brand that’s mainly focused on being a brand for fitness professionals to offer to their clients.  And as you know most of the majority of fitness professional clients aren’t necessarily athletes, they’re people that just want to look better, feel better, perform better in daily life and that kind of thing.  So that’s really what this line was designed for is something that fitness professionals would be able to offer and at the end of the day they wouldn’t have to worry about questionable ingredients and questionable additives and those kinds of things being in the products and…

Ben:  And this stuff is all made at the same place that the Thorne stuff is made that the physicians are using?

Tom:  Yes.  Exactly.

Ben:  Okay, so in terms of the actual way that people get this stuff, why did you make it so you can’t get it on like Amazon, for example?

Tom:  That’s a good question, I mean again, coming from a fitness professional background, I really felt like there was a need for a brand to be there as kind of a supporting solution for products and services for fitness professionals that we offered something beyond exercise.  So obviously, we’ve got the nutritional products and we’ve got lab testing and those kinds of things.  When you get into Amazon you start getting into pricing issues and people not following the rules.  We really want to make sure we have a lot of integrity in the way that the products are priced and who’s carrying them and frankly they are more expensive.

Ben:  So somebody can take a supplement like Thorne FX and fulfill it on Amazon but it could have an expiration date that’s like two or three months late or are those the kind of things that happen when you have third party fulfillment?

Tom:  Yeah, you just don’t know what the quality of the products are going to be when you’re buying through Amazon and there’s some very good retailers.  I’m not going to say it’s always a bad experience, but we wanted to try to hold on to that aspect of the buying process and the customer service experience and that kind of thing on our side.  And I will say, the one other piece of it is that Thorne FX products are more expensive I mean, the Multi that you talked about is $59.99 for a month’s supply and being able to understand why it’s of value takes a conversation so we wanted to make sure that high quality fitness professionals were the ones talking to people about that product ‘cause they’re going to be able to relay the value of why it would be worth it to spend that versus the eight bucks for the cheap tablet-based products in the store.

Ben:  Right.  And I did a podcast about that a while ago and I’ll link to it for those of you listening.  I did a pretty comprehensive podcast about this multivitamin that Thorne FX makes and why it’s the only multivitamin that I recommend and I won’t subject you to just hear the same thing that I just podcasted about a few weeks ago repeated here but it’s interesting to kind of hear the background about how it’s made and how this Thorne FX kind of came to be.  What I want to ask you though Tom is there’s like a bunch of other stuff that you guys have at Thorne FX and I’m curious about the reasoning behind the lines so to speak, of supplements that you’ve chosen and what the actual line is.  If you can kind of walk me through what it is that you’ve created at Thorne FX.

Tom:  Sure.  One of the important things when we first started conceptualizing this to me was having kind of a systematic fact process and how to use the products and when you should be using them and so on.  We kind of break that down into a four-part philosophy.  Number one is to monitor and manage health and actually that piece of it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the supplements but that lab testing becomes an important part of it in that we want to make sure that people aren’t just blindly using tons of nutritional products, starting an exercise program and diet changes and not really knowing whether their healthy on the inside or not.  That’s important for a fitness professional so that they know what challenges they may be facing with a client. So it’s important.

Ben:  So if you go to Thorne FX, you have lab tests that you sell there?

Tom:  Correct.

Ben:  Like blood testing and the type of things that well, you guys go through Wellness FX for your testing, right?

Tom:  Yes.  We have six specific lab packages that aren’t available on Wellness FX but we actually acquired Wellness FX last fall and so we’ve created some custom packages available through Thorne FX that’s right.

Ben:  So I’ve got a question for you because this is something I’m curious about.  When people buy a lab test through Wellness FX kind of wrapped into the cost of that lab test is like a consult with a physician or with a nutritionist or something like that, is it the same thing with Thorne FX where when you purchase the lab test, are you also paying for a consult or is that something separate? Like do you have the option of like getting a lab test and just bringing the numbers to your own doc or to your trainer or to your nutritionist?

Tom:  Yeah, it can be either way, I mean for those people that for example, I know you have a lot of followers online that may not have access to you but they might end up ordering one of the lab packages like a Wellness Complete and they have the ability then to do a consultation with you if it still works out or one of the other practitioners that are part of the Wellness FX group or they may be working with a dietician or other individual that can interpret the labs and even a fitness professional can do some education about what some of the markers mean although a registered dietician like yourself can do a lot more than an average trainer’s going to be able to.

Ben:  Yeah, well I’m not a registered dietician.  I’m a nutritionist.

Tom:  Nutritionist, sorry.

Ben:  Yeah.  Big difference.  [Laughs]

Tom:  I know. [laughs]

Ben:  So you’ve got your Wellness Complete, your sex hormone balance, your thyroid function test, your nutrient deficient test, a cardio vascular risk test and a blood sugar management test.  And that’s really cool.  I’ll be sure and link to this test for folks in the show notes but I’m curious about the supplements too and a lot of people, let’s just face it a lot of people are going to want to go out and just start taking supplements, stop paying hundreds of dollars for a lab test and for the people that are doing that type of thing, you’ve got everything from amino acids to iron bisglycinate to a probiotic complex, like why did you choose the things that you chose? Walk me through the basic line, the featured line through Thorne FX why you chose what you chose for this?

Tom:  So after that first point of monitor and manage health the next three real quick are the optimized recovery, improved body composition and then enhanced performance.  And so the way that we look at it is if somebody’s not making sure that they can recover from daily life and their adding exercise to their routine the best pre-workout drink or the best energy drink or whatever is going to offer very little because they’re not going to be able to recover from that exercise anyway.  So from our perspective we kind of start out with the priority of optimizing recovery and what that means is giving most of the essential micro and macro nutrients that are necessary to recover from exercise to recover from daily stress and so on.  So that’s where Multi AM:PM complex plays in.  That’s where the super EPA complex we’ve got a liquid version and a soft gel version.  Very high quality fish oils that have a long story of their own that we could spend the next 10 minutes talking about why we chose the raw materials for those specific products and so on.  Protein powders we’ve got whey isolate and then a vegan rice P protein as another option.

So those first three are from our perspective kind of just foundational product and then probiotics and vitamin D and HDL enzyme complex product to support the digestion and absorption of proteins and fats for those who have a compromised stomach acid production and so on.  So that group of products we feel is the most important and even for the person who’s trying to lose body fat or improve lean body mass oftentimes if they get the recovery category straight and they’re eating well and exercising appropriately they’re going to see changes in body composition and improved performance but for those that have that foundation in place and they want to kind of take it to the next level, our next category is body composition and that’s where we have our patented amino complex.  It’s an essential amino acid formula.  Thorne’s got the exclusive on that in North America so nobody else offers that formulation.  It’s a got a ton of…

Ben:  What do you mean by that?

Tom:  So we license that formulation from a company in Europe, actually from the inventor in Europe, I should say.  So that specific blend of essential amino acids is only available through us and it’s in the Thorne Research line and it’s in Thorne FX but there’s no other supplement company in North America that can have that.

Ben:  Why is it any different than like any other amino acids?

Tom:  A big one is there’s a lot of branched chain amino acid products in the market and there’s certainly a lot of evidence where their value in increasing protein synthesis and helping with muscle anabolism and so on, but the specific blend of amino acids and amino complex has been studied for really the past 20 years and the research shows that it supports fat metabolism, it supports normal blood sugar levels.  Of course, especially because of branched chain amino acids supports increased protein synthesis but research has also shown that it helps to combat increases in protein breakdown which you see during exercise.  So that’s kind of the other side of the coin of muscle anabolism since studies have been shown that in research has improved the mood which you would logically, I guess would expect because amino acids are important for neuro transmitter production, but again it’s not the branched chains that are necessarily providing that benefit it’s some of the other amino acids in there and then it’s enhanced exercise capacity and reduced fatigue and some research as well.

Ben:  Okay, so basically this is an amino acid powder and you’d take a scoop of it prior to a time that you would either be doing a hard workout or prior to a time that you would normally be experiencing like food cravings, things along those lines.

Tom:  The research that’s been done on it especially in aging population.  So for aging population are like for my parents I tell them just take one serving between breakfast and lunch and another serving between lunch and dinner.  So ideally on an empty stomach.  For exercise, it can be taken for sure prior and then depending on the extent of the duration of the workout maybe during and then maybe after but yeah, it’s a flavored powder.  Two different flavors.

Ben:  What do use to flavor it?

Tom:  Well, they’re berry and lemon flavored and then that’s sweet note stevia.

Ben:  Okay.  So stevia.

Tom: No artificial flavors which is really common in amino acids that you see a lot of sucralose and ace K because amino acids many of them tastes just horrendous, so you’ve got to cover it up with something.

Ben:  Yeah, very bitter.  Like I use those masked amino pattern capsules during my races sometimes and although I’m actually going to be starting to mix this powder into my bottles instead, but I chew on those and swallow the capsules.

Tom:  [Laughs]

Ben:  And they just like I kind of go into beast mode during my races anyway so I don’t care that much.  But they don’t taste good.

Tom:  I see. [laughs]  You’re hardcore.

Ben:  Yeah.  So you mix stevia in these, I noticed that you guys do a lot of other little things like I noticed for example, your vitamin D, you use medium chain triglyceride oil to mix your vitamin D in and on the Multi AM:PM complex for example, you don’t have some of the stuff like magnesium stearate for example, as a filler.  Can you talk a little bit about just like fillers and binders and additives in supplements and how it is that you go about not using some of the things that a lot of the other manufacturers are using and if so like how much more expensive that is or how much more difficult it is like why doesn’t everybody do this same type of thing that you’re doing?

Tom:  Sure.  Yeah, something like magnesium stearate and you’ll see that in a lot of capsules and tablets and the purpose of it is to help the powder flow through equipment faster so that you can make the equipment actually churn out capsules at a faster rate and obviously from a manufacturing standpoint, the faster you can get a batch of products done the sooner you can get on to the next one and so anytime there’s efficiencies like that it saves money.  Now from Thorne’s perspective ever since 1984 Thorne has not used magnesium stearate because of some evidence that it may hamper absorption of some nutrients.  Now it isn’t necessarily going to be harmful to ingest it and it is generally regarded as safe but if it at all reduces the absorption of the vitamins and minerals in the product then you’re just not getting what you’re paying for.  So Thorne’s process of making those products is going to be a little bit slower but we can do it without having to use magnesium stearate.  You also see in like protein powders you’ll see carrageenan in a lot of times and carrageenan is used to give it a little bit of a different mouth feels, so it feels thicker and like…

Ben:  What did you say carrageenan.

Tom:  Carrageenan, yup.  So Thorne has always had this opinion that if we have to add something that in anyway could compromise the efficacy of the product or could potentially be a disruption to someone’s health, we’re going to stay away from that.  So no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners, no carrageenan, no magnesium stearate and you know, there’s a longer list of stuff on a No List actually.  You just go to thorne.com and straight on the homepage many of the stuff that we won’t use.  No soy protein of course is one.

Ben:  Okay, so you’ve got like wheat, corn, gluten, yeast, egg and dairy not included.  Artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, lactose, magnesium stearate, pimelic acid, stearic acid, all that stuff isn’t included.  What do you think is the worst? What do you think is in supplements these days that you think could actually be hurting people? Even if we’re not talking about creating expensive P or keeping things from getting absorbed.  What would you say if you turn around you look at the label of a supplement and you saw something on the supplement, what would make you say there’s no way in hell I’m going to put that in my body.

Tom:  I think the three of that I’ll stay the furthest away from and recommend other people do is going to be, or I guess it’s four for artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners and then carrageenan.  Those four even more than magnesium stearate to me are very questionable.  We’re saying so much more of the importance of gut health and the importance of digestion for optimal health and so on, and the thing with carrageenan is that it’s becoming a lot more questionable whether that is a safe nutrient because of the potential for it to cause gut disruption.  I just tell people to stay away from it whenever you can.  Again, the artificial sweeteners are probably the other real major tell of whether a company is looking at trying to sell a bunch of products and make sure that they’re of utmost quality and so if I see any kind of sucralose or Ace-K, you don’t see too much aspartame nowadays but…

Ben: When you say Ace-K you mean acesulfame potassium?

Tom:  [Laughs] You got it.  I didn’t want to say that in the podcast ‘cause I know I…

Ben:  [Laughs] Alright.  Got it.  Okay, so there’s some other things, we talked about, your amino acids powder and obviously there’s about a dozen different products that you guys have that are specific to recovery to body composition or specifically reducing body fat and then also performance, but I notice when I go through your raw ingredients list, kind of a few things that pop up again and again.  One is curcumin.  Can you explain to me why you guys appear to be obsessed with curcumin?

Tom:  [Laughs] Yeah, we have that in Multi AM:PM complex and then we have it as a stand-alone product and curcumin that we use is curcumin phytosome which is again we licensed that from a company in Europe called the Indena it’s I-N-D-E-N-A.

Ben:  What’s that mean when you say you license it?

Tom:  It basically means that they are the only company that makes curcumin phytosome.  So in some cases we have exclusives for some of their phytosome products.  The curcumin phytosome also known as Meriva, we did have an exclusive.  There are other companies that carry it nowadays but in the case of a license sometimes it just means that that’s the only form of that product that were going to use in other cases it means we’re the only company that gets their hands on it which again, like what the amino complex, we’ve got the exclusive on that so no one else can get it.

Ben:  Okay, got it.  So how is this different as say dumping turmeric in your smoothie?

Tom:  Yeah, so what Indena did is they basically figure out how to wrap certain botanicals, wrap them into or combine them with phosphatidylcholine and it’s that lipid that is provided by the phosphatidylcholine aids in the absorption of that botanical.  So there’s actually green tea phytosome and curcumin phytosome in the Multi that we’re talking about.  In terms of curcumin, it’s been shown that it can be absorbed up to 29 times better than standard curcumin abstract.  So when somebody says, “oh, wow look at all this cool stuff that curcumin does” and then they’re going and buying just standard curcumin extract.  Very little of that actually gets absorbed in the rest of the system.

Ben:  How much turmeric would you have to eat? Like how much of the turmeric herb would you have to eat to get as much curcumin as you get in like your multivitamin?

Tom:  That’s a good question.  I’d have to do a little homework to find that one out but maybe I can get the answer and put it into the comments or your show notes if you want.  One thing I will say from a dietary standpoint though is if people are following a low-fat diet and then dumping a bunch of turmeric on their foods, very little of that will get absorbed.  You actually want to be eating the turmeric with fat in order to enhance absorption.  Which is really what in a way with the curcumin phytosome is, is that plus.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  So you say, basically they’ve got a way in this lab, what did you say it’s at in Italy?

Tom:  In Italy.  Yup.

Ben:  In Italy to be able to mix up curcumin with a fat-based delivery system called the phytosome so when you consume that and its blended up in your giant Vitamix with all these other multivitamin ingredients like you’re getting an absorbable form.

Tom:  Yup.  It’s actually one part curcumin and then two parts phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylcholine has some very interesting health benefits and so on that we don’t need to get into but, yeah.

Ben:  Yeah, that’s cool stuff.  It’s actually, it works well as a smart drug, too.  On it there’s a lot people they’ll use stuff like aniracetam and piracetam and stuff and mix it with phosphatidylcholine or Alpha-GPC to enhance cognitive performance, so it’s interesting for that.

You’ve also got this stuff called Relora and it looks like you’re saying that it can help to decrease cortisol or increase testosterone or act as almost like an adaptogen.  Can you can kind of explain how that works?

Tom:  Yeah, Relora is another unique formulation from Next Pharmaceuticals.  That’s where we get it from and we don’t have the exclusive on this one.  You will find that from other sources but what we did do is add some extra B vitamin and some other nutrients that support the stress response.  But the research on Relora has shown that it can help with food cravings and kind of the mind that just won’t shutdown at night, you know kind of thinking about the next day’s work and everything that’s going on and if that’s keeping somebody from sleeping that’s going to have detrimental effects, so from a rest and recovery standpoint we really see Relora as valuable.  We see it as valuable for combating the cravings but then to your point as it relates to exercise there’s been some interesting research showing that with higher volume training, what typically happens is they’ll see a reduction in testosterone and an increase in cortisol and Relora has been shown in research to help normalize or blunt that response.

Ben:  Hmmm.  Interesting.  It says on your page that it’s a proprietary blend of plant extracts from magnolia and phellodendron.

Tom:  Yup.

Ben:  Can you explain to me how this actually works? Did they grow with the plants in the lab and then extract stuff from them and then put that into the giant blender or are people like going out into the field and harvesting this stuff and bringing back like the dry ingredients like how’s that work when you’re getting a blend of plant extracts?

Tom:  Yeah, so what Next Pharmaceuticals would do is get those two materials at the specific extract amounts that they have in their formulas so that’s kind of their secret is that the reason that its’ proprietary is they don’t want somebody to kind of rip it off because they’ve done the research to show that that blend in those ratios of those two plants provides some pretty significant health benefits.  So they’re basically getting, you know and it could be from two of their suppliers some phellodendron and some magnolia from over here.  Then they’re bringing it into their company and putting it together and then we at Thorne will order that raw material from Next Pharmaceuticals.  So Next Pharmaceutical is just making that ingredient from a couple of components and then we put it in our products.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  So when they are using a word like proprietary, that’s not a word that’s just like thrown around for marketing purposes.  They’re literally trying to keep that a secret, so people don’t knock it off?

Tom:  Yeah, that’s really a good question.  There’s two ways of positioning proprietary blend on products; one is so that manufacturers don’t have to really tell you what’s in the product, the other is to create some exclusivity or to not let someone rip it off.  So from Next Pharmaceutical standpoint, I can totally understand why they would want to have a proprietary blend list there and not say the exact amounts.  When it comes to an energy drink and you see proprietary blend and there’s some caffeine and some taurine and a bunch of other stuff and there’s 600 milligrams per serving, what happens in that case is it could be 599 milligrams of caffeine and 1 milligram of all the other stuff that makes it look cool and it’s just a megadose of caffeine, so there’s a couple of different ways you’ll see proprietary thrown around but in this case it’s pretty legit.

Ben:  Hmm.  Interesting.  So when you look at a bunch of supplements, there’s kind of this term that we throw around in fitness and nutrition and it’s this concept of a stack.  Like when you take a bottle of this and a bottle of that, and you stack it together then you get like this synergistic effect where when you blend for example, let’s say like caffeine and amino acids and maybe some adaptogens maybe it’s a good pre-workout blend that type of thing or for recovery you know, post workout maybe amino acids and anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.

So for you, having been in this industry for a dozen years and having access to all these different products at Thorne FX, if you had to choose like your three favorite stacks of things that people would put together to get the best effect, what would those three favorite stacks be and what would be the effect that people would get if they’re to put them all together? Let’s put on our fun, nerdy, nutritionist, druggie hats [laughs].

Tom:  [Laughs] Well, to be honest, the first one probably isn’t very sexy and that’s just what I always talk about is kind of a foundation package or foundation protocol is what I typically would tell somebody and it’s Multi’s, Omega’s so that’s super EPA complex and then a protein powder.  And the reason that I always…

Ben:  Let’s back that.  A multivitamin, a fish oil and a protein powder?

Tom:  Yeah.

Ben:  Okay.

Tom:  The reason I always start there is so often people will be looking for the latest and greatest supplement but they’re neglecting their ability to recover and their neglecting their core nutrient needs.  And so I always tell the most eager teenager, a college kid up to the highest performing athlete or somebody just getting started, let’s make sure you get your foundation covered ‘cause if you don’t no matter how good these other supplements are they’re going to have a limited amount of effect if you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, you’re not getting any essential vitamins and minerals and so on.

Ben:  So if you were like a high school athlete on a budget or you were somebody who wanted to just like simplify and minimize, those would be the three that you’d go with?

Tom:  Yup.  Absolutely.

Ben:  Okay.

Tom:  And that’s what I have our kids use them too.

Ben:  What kind of whey protein do you guys use, by the way?

Tom:  It’s a whey isolate.

Ben:  What’s the reason behind using it? Using a whey isolate?

Tom:  The main thing is that just that there’s a pretty significant number of people that have trouble with lactose and they can typically handle whey isolate whereas, oftentimes they can’t handle a whey concentrate.  From a strictly nutrition standpoint, there’s probably not a significant difference between the two and we’re actually going to be introducing a grass-fed whey concentrate later in the year, so that people can just make the choice whether they want to go the isolate route, or they want to go the concentrate.  The concentrates tend to taste a little bit better as well because there is a little bit more fat, a little bit more carbohydrate in them but we went with it mainly to make sure that a larger number of people could use it and frankly, in the sports performance or sports nutrition industry or for bodybuilders and that kind of thing, oftentimes they have a preference for, it’s whey isolate.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  So baseline [0:52:35.8] ______ you’re going for general health, longevity or the minimal simple approach.  You use a Multi, use official, use a protein powder.  What would be your second stack?

Tom:  So the next one is once they start cranking up training volume, there’s some changes that you often will see less people are doing more chronic higher volume or higher intensity exercise and you know, knowing you you’re not someone that really touts the idea of high volume, especially high-volume endurance training, but even smart higher intensity training has some effects on the body and the main things that we want to make sure we’re…

Ben:  It has more of an effect on the body in some cases. [laughs]

Tom:  [Laughs] Yeah.

Ben:  I’ve tried both and I wake up in many cases more beat up from you know, a 30-minute hit session versus a 90-minute aerobic session.

Tom:  Yup.  Absolutely.  So the main things that we address in kind of our higher volume training protocol is probiotics.  So make ‘em sure we’re enhancing gut health which again with increased volume or intense to the gut can be compromised oftentimes.  The Rolera complex, for the reasons that we talked about earlier, it’s affects on…

Ben:  That’s an adaptogenic herb?

Tom:  Yup.  And then amino complex to make sure that enough essential amino acids are getting into the system.  You know, from a diet standpoint there’s only so much food that people can eat before they just get tired of it.  But for exercising individuals or especially those that are trying to lose weight and maybe on some calorically-restricted diet, protein and amino acids are super critical to maintain lean body mass so that’s why amino complex is just a really easy way to get in additional amino acids.

Ben:  You talked about a probiotic and I’m curious just because you talked about like some of the unique aspects of some of Thorne FX components, is your probiotic unique?  Is there anything about it that makes it different than any others, like have you done anything to your probiotic that people should know about?

Tom:  Yeah, the Probiotic Complex is three different strains.  They’re actually human-derived strains.

Ben:  What’s that mean?

Tom:  Meaning they’re the same form of probiotic typically found in humans whereas, some of the other probiotics are derived from animals or ground, that kind of thing.  These are three clinically-studied important in human probiotics.

Ben:  Okay.

Tom:  So there’s a couple of different thoughts on the use of probiotics, one is to use some more targeted strains of probiotics like we do and the other is sort of the shotgun approach of let’s just go get a bunch of different strains that we don’t really know anything about but make the label look really good and fully-loaded and hope that there’s some benefit as time goes on.  So we kind of went the more conservative route of let’s make sure that the probiotics that we are having people ingest have some proven scientific support.  And then the other thing that we did with it is put it into an acid-resistant capsule because what you don’t want to have happen is all the probiotics that your stomach acids and then the majority of them are dead before they actually make it into the intestines.  You want those capsules to break down in the intestines.

Ben: Well, what about when you eat fermented foods like those are just a bite of kimchi?  Isn’t my stomach acid hitting that? How’s that not killing good bacteria and stuff like that?

Tom:  Yeah, you’ll lose a pretty fair amount of those probiotics not all of them, of course.

Ben:  Interesting.

Tom:  But you’ll lose some of ‘em.  That’s why we go that route.

Ben:  Interesting.  I didn’t know that.  Okay, so your second favorite stack would be this Relora adaptogenic herb to help with testosterone and cortisol.  A probiotic for gut health and an amino.  So this would be for some reason maybe like a little bit harder charging.

Tom:  Yup.  Exactly.

Ben:  Okay.  Cool.  What about number three?

Tom:  The third one is kind of our peak performance protocol? And that one again amino complex comes into this as well but then the other two are going to be Elevate and Catalyte and Elevate is a pre-workout or it could even be used during a workout depending how long the duration is a shot – stamina shot, so there is not any added caffeine.  You get a tiny amount from the green tea that’s in it but there’s four botanicals in Elevate and what’s interesting about these botanicals or these herbs is that again we use a patented extraction process from one of our partners to make sure that this isn’t just grounded and filtered green tea leaves.  It’s actually specific extracts from green tea, from rhodiola, from reishi and I should have it in front of me ‘cause I’m going to forget one of them.  At the top of my head but…

Ben:  Is it that danshen stuff?

Tom:  Danshen.  Yup, you got it.

Ben:  I ordered you guys’ digestive enzymes because I did a gut test actually and my naturopathic physician informed me that due to my high levels of physical activity I needed to get a little pancreatic support in.  So I ordered your digestive enzymes and it came with two bottles of this stuff.  I drank one yesterday and it pretty worked out.  It’s actually pretty interesting, it did.  I did notice it gave a little bit of a boost but I was actually curious about that extraction process.  Is that why that felt different than some of these other energy drinks and adaptogens I’ve tried?

Tom:  Yeah, what we get from that extraction process is consistency from one bottle and one batch to the next which you really can’t if you’re just using green tea as a tea kind of a thing.  The other important component of this is that these four botanicals were really designed to enhance stamina not necessarily to boost energy levels.  So what I often tell people is if you’re going to use this, don’t expect the first half of your training session, you’re going to be wired and excited and throwing weights around and screaming at people.  What you’ll notice is the second half of your training session you don’t start bonking and getting light-headed and losing mental focus and that kind of thing.  So what most people will notice whether they’re doing metabolic conditioning workouts or endurance sessions, really any type of high or moderate intensity exercises they don’t start to fade off the last half of their workout.

Ben:  Hmm.  Interesting.  So you could mix the amino acids in with this botanical blend for example, like [0:59:45.0] ______ if you got and do like a killer.  Even like a fasted workout or something like that and I want a little bit of extra nutrient support?

Tom:  Yeah.  You could do that.

Ben:  Well, what’s the third part of this one?

Tom:  The third one then is Catalyte which is our electrolyte drink, and again it’s an electrolyte powder.  I don’t actually say drink because you have to mix it yourself but it’s a lemon-flavored electrolyte powder and what we did on that one is balanced out sodium and potassium and magnesium and calcium and the ratio is that you typically see lost through sweat.  So there was a reason why we have those in the amounts and ratios that we have them.  One thing I wanted to stay away from is the idea of adding any extra sugar and then for you and for a lot of your followers they’re probably doing longer duration activities in a restricted carbohydrate diet, I don’t want to throw in a bunch of sugar like a lot of the other electrolyte during workout that drinks have.  So it is sweetened with stevia and we’ve got some D-ribose in there and then added some zinc as well.  So it’s really good-tasting superb unique blend of electrolytes and it actually goes really well with the amino complex that you’re just mentioning.  So for those that are using the amino acids and the electrolytes during a training session it can all be mixed in the same bottle.

Ben:  Why is D-ribose in there?

Tom:  D-ribose is just a nice extra cellular energy source.

Ben:  It’s like an ATP precursor?

Tom:  Yeah, and it doesn’t add, I mean it’s not being metabolized the way that regular sugar does so there’s some good benefit for enhancing cellular energy.

Ben:  Yeah.  Interesting.  What do you think about like Tim Noakes’ ideas that we don’t need as many electrolytes as we’ve been led to believe during exercise and it’s only during extremely long like multi-day periods of hot exercise where the body truly reaches into full sodium depletion?

Tom:  I haven’t read Tim’s stuff on this specifically.  I will say that it’s very individualized, I mean for me I follow a pretty low carbohydrate diet myself and there are times when I start to get my lats cramping and you know, you start acting up during training sessions and it has a pretty significant effect when I’m using  Catalyte versus not using Catalyte because obviously when you’re restricting carbohydrates you’re more likely to run through water or have the potential for depleting sodium stores a lot easier and that kind of thing so having said that, I think it’s a pretty individualized circumstance and because we’re not always talking with people that are following a real clean and consistent diet.  There’s a lot more variables.  I do think that the electrolytes become have a more critical for the average person eating a higher salt more standard American-based diet but I think it’s trial and error.  In the case of electrolytes I think you just have to experiment with them and see what happens.

Ben:  Yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing.  What I found is when I go super-duper low carb like into ketosis during endurance exercise, they help a little bit.  I think probably it’s because of the glycogen dump that can occur once you switch to low-carb and the mineral loss that occurs as you dump some of your storage carbohydrate.  You know, it’s the same reason that you get a guy like Dr. Peter Attia eating a couple of chicken bouillon cubes every day.

Tom:  Yeah.

Ben:  I think in some folks they can use those little electrolytes and I think that there are people who are maybe like eating close to like 50-60% fat, 20-30% carb-based diet.  Maybe including lots of extra minerals and sea salts and stuff like that.  I’m still on the fence about whether or not they actually need to take in any electrolytes at all during exercise.  But that’s an interesting stack so you could theoretically take amino acids.  You could take this Elevate stuff, you could take Catalyte.  You could mix it all together into a water bottle and just take that out with you on a session and see how you feel.

Tom:  Yup.  I’d actually recommend the Elevate if it’s just going to be used once I’d give it about 15 minutes before a training session begins and then mix the other two.  Some people will mix all three of them together as well especially on a longer ride or a longer duration event.

Ben:  Right.  Interesting.  Okay.  Cool.  Do you guys have plans to add anything else in to your Thorne FX protocol? And part of the reason for this is I think I emailed you a few weeks ago too, like I came across this really interesting I believe it was a meta-analysis of multiple research studies that had been done on this stuff called HMB for example, which is kind of been like this underground supplement in the body building industry for a while but it’s basically hydroxymethylbutyrate and it’s got this extremely anabolic effect in terms of performance.  I come across stuff like this every now and again and I always wonder whether somebody’s going to take it and put it into supplements.  And I’ve always got these ideas rolling around in my head about like you know, can we mix MCT oil and super starch and maybe some amino acids and make some kind of an endurance powerhouse blend.  Are you open to just like adding new stuff as folks like me and the people who listen in to my podcast kind of coming up with ideas or thinking of things that could be added?

Tom:  Yeah, we definitely have a pretty extensive list on our new product pipeline that we’re always adding products to it and modifying it and then obviously, with you on our advisory team now you know, we’ll do a review of that as a group each year and kind of plan out what the new stuff is to come in the upcoming year.  In the near future, the ones I already mentioned is a grass-fed whey concentrate.  Super high-quality grass-fed.  We found this supplier where basically all of the ways coming from the same group of farmers in a country outside of the United States.  I’m not going to give away too much on that one until we actually launch it but it’s got the highest levels of immunoglobulins and lactoferrin and serum albumin that we’ve seen in a whey protein powder.  So that one’s pretty cool we hope to have that this fall.  Another one is going to be a magnesium lysinate glycinate powder.  So magnesium is just awesome for supporting or dealing with restless legs, for calming the mind, there’s just tons of benefits and a lot of people are deficient in magnesium.  Unfortunately, it also has kind of a laxative effect to it and so we’re going to be using this lysinate glycinate because you can take higher amounts and not have that laxative effect.

 [1:07:29.0] ______ is a complex, is a product that’ll support fat metabolism and then finally getting into the one that you were just kind of talking about related to HMB, we have a product in the works called Anabolic Complex 3,4,5.  For those that have done the research on HMB, you know that 3 grams is the pretty typical dose that’s been shown to have the benefits that Ben was just mentioning with reducing protein catabolism and supporting overall anabolism of lean body mass.  The 4, 5 we’re going to have to let your listeners either try and figure it out or just have to wait for the product to come out before we say what else is in there but for those that are a little savvy with the research on sports performance products they’ll probably figure out what the 4,5 is going to be on a daily dose as well.  Anabolic Complex 3,4,5 and that should be first quarter of next year.

Ben:  Okay.  Cool.  Well, I mean I’m super stoked about working with you guys and being be able to be the voice for some of my followers and podcast listeners and you know, being on your advisory board now and I especially want to talk with you guys a lot more about some of your endurance formulas and things we can put into flasks to support things like marathons and Ironman and things of that nature, but for folks who are listening in right now like if you just want to go over and surf through this stuff, like Tom mentioned earlier in the podcast you can pretty much only get Thorne FX supplements through a fitness professional or someone who Thorne FX has “kind of allowed to sell their supplements.”

So you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/thornefx if you want to go through me to get any of their stuff.  And of course, if you go through me you have the added bonus of me being able to pretty much give you any advice you want about how to use this stuff and you could do that by going to the comments for this particular episode and just leave your comments like if you have questions about any of the stuff we talked about, if you have concerns about any of the stuff we talked about, anything you want to delve into, I’m happy to delve into with you in the comments section.  So I’ll make an easy to remember URL for you for this particular episode, we’re going to call this one bengreenfieldfitness.com/butter and the reason I’m calling this one bengreenfieldfitness.com/butter is because I’ve got a big photo on the show notes of Tom wearing his ‘Butter not Bread’ t-shirt.  So if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/butter you’re going to be able to access the show notes and all the resources and everything else for the stuff that Tom and I had been talking about and also to ask any questions that you have about the supplements, industry, the supplements we talked about and pretty much anything else that you want to know about everything from multivitamins to amino acids to adaptogens all down the line.

So wow, we’ve been going for over an hour.  That was a pretty geeked-out supplement podcast.

Tom:  [Laughs] That was fun.

Ben:  Tom, thanks for your time, man.  Thanks for coming on the call.

Tom:  Yeah, absolutely.  Anytime, Ben.  I really appreciate it.

Ben:  Alright folks, well this is Ben Greenfield and Tom Nikkola from bengreenfieldfitness.com/butter signing out.  Have an amazing week.



How do you know if the nutrition supplements that you are using are safe and legal? How is the supplement industry actually regulated? What should you look for to know if your supplement actually contains what it says it contains? You’re going to learn the answers to these and many more questions in this podcast episode.

My guest for this episode, Tom Nikkola (pictured right) is a fitness and nutrition expert who is well-versed in the nutrition supplement industry. He was cured from leukemia when he was five. He spent years doing follow-up testing at the Mayo Clinic, and during that time, often thought of becoming a doctor.

This interest in health turned into an interest in fitness, which eventually led him to graduate from university, cum laude, with a pre-Med Biology degree. Shortly after graduating, Tom started working for Life Time Fitness, and was there for nearly 12 years working as a personal trainer, and holding various management roles, before finally leaving after holding the position of Senior Director of Nutrition & Weight Management. During that time, Tom was responsible for Life Time’s nutrition, metabolism and weight management programs and products.

Tom holds a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, as well as my Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). Beyond his standardized education, Tom has also read hundreds of books on fitness and nutrition and currently has a personal library of about 900 published research papers and articles. Get The Low Carb Athlete – 100% Free!Eliminate fatigue and unlock the secrets of low-carb success. Sign up now for instant access to the book! Email* I'm interested in…*

Tom now uses his insights and experience to advise and build the one of the world’s leading fitness supplement brands – EXOS – with a focus on producing products and services in which fitness professionals and the clients they work with can have complete trust. In today’s episode, Tom is going to walk us through everything we need to know about whether the supplements we’re taking are actually safe, legal and contain what they say they contain.

-The history behind EXOS…

-How multivitamins are made, from idea conception to final product…

-How to know whether supplements actually contain the exact amount of product that is on the label…

-What kind of third-party certifications you should be looking for on a supplement label…

-Why fillers, binders, excipients and other additives are added to supplements – and which are safe and which are not…

-4 things you must completely avoid in any supplement, capsule, powder or tablet…

-Tom’s three favorite supplement “stacks”, and why he chooses them…

-And much more!

Final Food For Thought

These are all important issues.

And here’s why…

A woman in Hawaii recently died from liver failure due to her use of the weight loss supplement OxyELITE Pro. Following actions by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Texas-based company has agreed to recall and destroy a dietary supplement linked to dozens of cases of acute liver failure and hepatitis, including one death and illnesses so severe that several patients required liver transplants.

A recent journal of medicine presented a case report on two soldiers who were taking commercially available energy supplements and who both collapsed during physical exertion from cardiac arrest and ultimately died.

In many cases, there are reported risks of deaths actually increasing with long term use of supplements such as multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper and there are athletes who have been banned from competition due to their “innocent” electrolytes and sports fuels being tainted with hormones and steroids.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about whether your supplement is safe, or any other thoughts about this episode? Leave your comments below, and go to EXOS to view any of the products we discuss in this podcast!

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