The more I learn about health, the more I realize being healthy should be a no-brainer. Eat more vegetables. Move more. Laugh more. Put down that PopTart. But what about all the scads of conflicting information out there? Low fat, low carb, or low cal? Which of the thousands of antioxidants available should we be taking? Fish oils, resvertrol, goji berries, green tea? Is sunlight good because of the vitamin D, or bad because it increases our odds of skin cancer? Should we eat that egg yolk?
In many cases false information is propagated by one thing- money. I’m not saying that everyone with something to sell is trying to dupe you out of your money… I’m just saying they have something to sell you. As long as we remain objective and never stop asking questions, we will get along just fine in this free market economy, but it’s always nice to have a little help to weed through information. Junk science is science (or something that seems scientific) that is produced or interpreted by those with special interests. For example, articles investigating the safety or efficacy of a drug that are being funded by the company that makes said drug. Can you say “conflict of interest”?
But I digress.
There is one particular experiment I have seen recently in the media and on the internet that I just couldn’t resist debunking. On websites such as this one, authors say that you can test your vitamins by seeing whether or not they dissolve in water. While I will be the first to admit that most multivitamins sold in the stores are not only junk, but might actually be harming you , this is not a valid test by any means.
My favorite example of this lately is this popular commercial for a CoQ10 supplement, Qunol. The makers of this supplement boast that their product dissolves better in water than other CoQ10 supplements… but when did we decide that this was a good thing? Beyond the issues I outline below, CoQ10 is a fat soluble antioxidant, which means it should NOT be able to dissolve in water. The makers of this product are bragging about a quality in their product that is actually undesirable! That’s marketing for you.
There is SO much more going on inside your body than in a cup of water it’s exhausting to imagine listing them all, but for the sake of the article I will talk about just a few.
1. Stomach acid is extremely acidic– ranging in pH from 1.5 to 3.0 . As we all know, acidic is extremely corrosive- apparently enough so to dissolve razor blades ! I should hope such a strong acid would be able to dissolve a pesky pill or two. While the above article did state that vinegar better mimics the stomach’s acidic environment than water, vinegar is only moderately acidic with a pH of 4.25-5.0 . Compared to the stomach’s pH of about 2, even at it’s strongest (we’ll say 4.0) vinegar is 100 times weaker than stomach acid.
2. There’s more stuff in the stomach than just acid. Even if you did dunk those pills in a vat of acid that is the same strength of stomach acid, you still couldn’t hope to make up for all the other stuff in our guts. Digestive enzymes such as salivary amylase start working on your food the moment it enters your mouth and continually get added throughout the digestive process. Amylases, proteases, lipases, pepsinogen, intrinsic factor, mucous, bile salts, bicarbonate, and a plethora of gastric hormones are among the many, many things that get secreted as food moves through the digestive tract.
3. The digestive tract is a muscular tube. The juices that digest our food only make up a part of the whole digestive picture. The stomach is a big muscular bag and the rest of the digestive tract is one long muscular tube that is constantly pulling, pushing, squishing and mashing the ever-loving heck out of the food we eat. Last I checked, cups of water weren’t capable of such things… even with the most vigorous of stirring.
The question we should be asking ourselves is not weather our pills can dissolve in a cup of water. Rather, once the pill (or food) is broken down will it be absorbed from the digestive tract and properly used in our body? If there is a leaky gut or inflammation afoot I would say the answer to both of those questions is a “no”.
Take care and beware of junk science, dear readers
Nikki Cyr, D.C.