Today's consumer is bombarded with information about which products are good for the health and which are not, with new studies being published almost every day into the effects - beneficial or otherwise - of vitamins, minerals and herbs.
These studies often seem to contradict one another, and each product has its supporters or opponents who are quick to praise or condemn the findings of any new research depending on what it claims about their preferred supplement.
All of this makes it extremely difficult for the consumer to decide what is the best - and safest - product to take, but for one company these concerns also mask the real issue.
"It's not that the studies are necessarily wrong, but every individual is different with varying needs, deficiencies and ailments; what works for one person may not work for another," said Juli Novotny, spokesperson for Eidon, a US-based vitamin and mineral producer. "What it comes down to is the consumer finding out exactly what they are missing and why certain problems are occurring."
She continued: "Many people tend to give up on, or find no hope from, alternative and natural remedies as a result of the conflicting research dilemma. Because alternative health is not yet mainstream, it has to be very general in its findings and less individualised than traditional medicine. Much of the information about the benefits of natural health must be introduced through the media, and often this means biased, conflicting and misleading information. This does not mean that alternative medicine is fruitless, but we often tend to resort to that belief."
On top of the confusing research, Novotny said, the natural health industry was competing with pharmaceutical drugs that promise immediate results. "When we are in pain, it is a sign that our bodies are lacking in basic nutrients - we are not giving the body all of the resources to function properly. It's not our bodies' way of telling us we are in need of 'drugs'. However, over the years, this has become the general mindset.
"Despite the side effects of masking health problems with drugs, these little pills sound really good when you are in pain. They numb the body¹s senses immediately and for years the alternative health industry has been competing with these pharmaceutical drugs that promise quick results. But, the real solutions to these problems come from basic health practice, not drugs, and that mind-set needs to be mainstream or else we will continue to be contributing to our own premature death."
This pharmaceutical fallacy is something that Eidon has worked for years to attempt to overcome by teaching the public about mineral balancing as the solution to preventing pain and degeneration from happening in the first place, and by emphasising the importance of minerals in the elimination of toxins. The company has created a line of liquid mineral supplements and coined the slogan Mineralibrium to describe the state of perfect mineral balance within the body when all the macro and micro minerals are in proper ratios to one another. "We believe it is the only state in which optimal health can flourish," said Novotny.
Education is the key for Eidon. "The very small nutrients that are found in foods are extremely significant, even in diminutive amounts. Our society often overlooks minerals as key components in the search for health and disease prevention. Once we overcome this hurdle, the entire health and food industry will have the tools it needs to make revolutionary change and each individual will have the power to take health matters into his or her own hands, " said Novotny.
Finding what works is the key
The trouble is that it is the often-conflicting studies which are the principal source of information for most consumers. "We are constantly having to guess what it is that we need. When following the 'new studies show' cycle, we don't find a real solution. What Eidon has found is that despite the inconsistency behind studies and the erroneous procedures, the problem is that what works for one person may not and many times doesn't work for another, and that often means that people give up on natural health and revert back to drugs and synthetic products," said Richard Wagner, president of Eidon.
As recently as 10 years ago, most people believed that a diet of natural meats, organic grains, fruit and vegetables could provide the correct mineral balance and keep the body healthy, Wagner said. "However, today's minerally-depleted soils and white-flour and sugar epidemic means that it is now almost impossible to maintain a good mineral balance even with a well-balanced diet. That is why we launched a range of essential liquid minerals in 1996. The minerals are in their purest form, straight from the Earth's crust, and are suspended in water. Not only are they free of additives and animal by-products, they are also missing the bitter taste and smell of other supplements on the market," he claimed.
Eidon has taken the idea of supplementation one step further via a link up with BioTrend Technologies which offers a hair mineral analysis test using a hair sample (a form of living tissue) to detect mineral deficiencies. The test determines mineral levels and then provides a list of all the minerals needed to redress any imbalance and in what quantities. "This way we bypass all of the guessing, hoping, trial and error and get right down to health via an individualised daily plan," said Wagner.
"Virtually everyone is minerally unbalanced, and the hair analysis shows to what extent. The minerals we provide to redress this balance are highly bio-available and quite specific. Therefore, consumers know exactly what they are consuming and absorbing - increasingly important in today's climate of food safety concerns. We believe our programme represents a paradigm shift in mineral evaluation and balancing by putting the tools into the hands of the individual, where optimal health truly begins. Individuals no longer need to use the conflicting scientific studies to try and guess what mineral they need - our programme can tell them straight away, and that means they will see and feel the benefits immediately."