A friend recently asked me about Isotonix supplements and he wanted to know my thoughts. Isotonix is a product line of phytonutrients (plant nutrients) called OPCs that are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, red wine, and other plants. OPC stands for oligomeric proanthocyanidin.
OPCs can act as antioxidants and studies show that they seem to have many healthy effects. For example, some OPCs seem to reduce inflammation and expand blood vessels in the body. Other OPCs might boost immunity.
But, OPCs are not my main focus for this review. Rather, it’s the claim that Isotonix supplements are more “bio-available” (in other words, better able to be used by the body) than other supplements.
According to the people I’ve run into who sell Isotonix supplements, the enhanced bio-availability is one of the main reasons for choosing Isotonix over other products.
But, does “absorbed faster or better” mean “superior”? In other words:
- Is a supplement better because the body absorbs it faster?
- Will a faster-absorbed supplement be better at preventing cancer, heart disease or other health problems?
- Will a faster or better absorbed antioxidant work better at neutralizing free radicals than an antioxidant that is absorbed a little slower?
These are the questions I have asked many times to the people who advocate and sell Isotonix supplements (and other supplements too) – and I have never gotten a good answer.
The answer is we don’t know. I can say this because when I searched the National Library of Medicine for the word “Isotonix” or “Isotonix supplement” no studies that used Isotonix products appear to have been published. That doesn't mean they don’t exist, rather that I couldn’t locate them.
“Our Supplement Works Faster”
The claim “works faster” is not new. This statement was basically the foundation behind the popular over the counter cold remedy, Zicam. With Zicam, the zinc-infused preparation was inserted into the nose. This, it was reasoned, would help the product combat colds faster than if zinc lozenges were used.
The problem with this reasoning was that the original peer-reviewed clinical research of zinc and colds was conducted using zinc lozenges and NOT zinc inserted into the nasal cavity.
More to the point, research finds that in some people, Zicam products reduced or eliminated the sense of smell and taste –sometimes permanently.
Folic acid is another example. Folic acid is more bioavalable than the natural form of the vitamin, folate. Folic acid is a great vitamin and reduces birth defects but recent research shows that high dose folic acid supplements and folic acid-fortified foods appear to increase the risk of prostate cancer and colon cancer. Agreeably, this is a controversial topic best discussed with an oncologist.
Let me be clear. There is no proof that Isotonix products cause any problems at all and they very well may be a healthy product. Rather, I mention these things to highlight the fallacy of believing that working faster automatically means working better.
Isotonix may be a fine product and I don’t see anything that indicates otherwise so if you are using Isotonix supplements and like the product line, great I'm happy for you. I wanted to address the alleged better bioavailably of Isotonix products and to provide you with some questions to ask distributors of the Isotonix if you were considering whether the product was right for you.
Questions to Ask Isotonx distributors
- Does Isotonix supplements have any clinical research?
- If yes, do those studies show it is more bio-available than other supplements?
- Ask to see those studies. Abstracts (summaries of studies) do not count because abstracts are not peer reviewed. Also, studied “presented” at medical/science conventions do not count either.
For those who are interested, you do not have to get Isotonix supplements from distributors.
Here is Isotonix OP3 on Amazon for those who are interested.
Are Antioxidants Good For Us?
The big claim of OPCs and many other supplements today is their antioxidant effects. The claim that something is an antioxidant is a huge selling point to a lot of people as you may have noticed from all the products (and foods) that mention the word “antioxidant” on their packaging.
As an aside I often wonder why I don’t see “antioxidant” listed on fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables (which are teeming with antioxidants)… the food industry seems to be at least 20 years behind the supplement industry on this issue…Wake up food industry!!
What are Prooxidants?
While antioxidants are obviously good for us, there is a darker side that hardly anybody ever hears about. It’s a fact that any antioxidant can make free radicals (i.e. become “pro-oxidant”). A prooxidant is an antioxidant that has the ability to make free radicals. Any antioxidant has the capability to make free radicals under the wrong conditions.
Often antioxidants are marketed to people who exercise because exercise produces free radicals and the idea is that antioxidant supplements prevent free radical induced cell damage. Maybe in some cases they do but there is no proof that people who exercise regularly need more antioxidant supplements. This may be partially due to the fact that they tend to eat better and consume more fruits and vegetables.
It’s also never been shown that the free radicals made during exercise are harmful. If they were, we would expect more free radical-induced diseases in professional athletes and others who exercise. But, we see just the opposite!
Free Radicals: Always Bad?
It’s a fact: free radical production is tied to life on earth. None of us would be here without free radicals. While OPC supplements like those in Isotoinx may be a good addition to healthy eating, the real key is to get most of your antioxidants naturally from food and use products like Isotonix to supplement what you eat. After all, that’s why they call them “supplements”.