28 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY January 25-31, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com do health supplements work? Does it matter if you eat turmeric in capsules or by the spoonful straight from your spice cabinet? Can vitamins really be absorbed from capsules and creams, as opposed to food and sun? Does a yeast cleanse make sense? There are a lot of supplements on the market making a lot of health claims, but don’t look to the FDA for answers. Instead, the people in the know are those who have been selling these products for years, and hearing customer reviews. “Nutrients in here are all known to be antifungal,” says Victor Reskovic, a local expert and longtime employee of Cornucopia Community Market in Carmel, speaking about the yeast cleanse. “They negate fungal activity in the body. We get repeat business on it. If it didn’t work, people would let us know and ask for a refund.” Reskovic leaves his work station, which is equipped with a little library. He leads a prospective shopper in between the supplement shelves, passing sweet wormwood for appetite, Swedish bitter for digestion and milk thistle for healthy liver. There are so many companies on the market, many of them Californian, that a health food store wouldn’t be able to carry all of them. Are some companies more trustworthy than others? Not within the health stores’ distribution chain, Reskovic says. But since the supplement market is mostly unregulated, there are companies who work out of their garage whose products are not third-party tested. It’s only when a company makes unsubstantiated claims—such as that their product fights cancer—that the FDA steps in and fines the charlatans in this massive and still-growing market. “Look for products that are third-party verified, with the USP-NF label” says Vanessa Lord, a Santa Cruzbased nutritionist and a registered dietitian with a master’s in nutritional science. (USP–NF refers to the United States Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary standards for medicines, dietary supplements, and such.) Lord and Reskovic both insist on consultation with your doctor or a specialist before taking anything. They both say that supplements can be effective. But the bottom line is every organism is different. Valerian will work for some as a sleep aid, for example, while others will be greatly disappointed. It’s a matter of genes, the ability to metabolize the nutrient and the dosage. Another thing experts stress is finding the underlying cause as a first step before one decides on a supplement, hence the importance of a health provider being involved. Melatonin is good if the cause of stress and sleeplessness is hormonal, but otherwise other supplements might be better. One of Cornucopia’s bestsellers for stress is Indian Ashwagandha, a powerful adaptogenic herb that has been used for centuries. “Some people say they can’t live without it,” Reskovic says. It is reported to have a relaxing effect, relaxing muscles and regulating nerve transmission in the body. The herb is enclosed inside of beige, easyto-swallow capsules, and the recommended dosage is two capsules twice a day. Can vitamins be absorbed outside of food and sun? “To various degrees,” Reskovic says. “Just like with other nutrients, absorption rates vary from person to person.” Despite health stores disappearing, such as Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy in Monterey, Cornucopia is hanging on. The grocer is well stocked with supplements (next to healthy foods), with the supplements displayed prominently in the front of the store. Cornucopia has inherited a number of Whole Foods customers who say they cannot find their favorite products there anymore. For some favored products—like turmeric, believed to be an immune booster—instead of turmeric gummies and capsules, there are also spoonfuls of the spice straight into a meal. “Some people do just that,” Reskovic says. Cornucopia Community Market is in the Carmel Rancho Shopping Center, 26135 Carmel Rancho Blvd., Carmel. 625-1454. “if it didn’t work, people would let us know and ask for a refund.” add on Supplements promise fixes to some toughto-treat issues like stress. Experts say they really work. By Agata Pop˛eda health & fitness The supplements are displayed at the front of the store at Cornucopia in Carmel. They are organized according to which ailment they treat, but there are also systems within that, where products are arranged alphabetically. Vitamins and minerals run A to Z. DANIEL DREIFUSS ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES Stop By To Shop And Find Your Vintage Treasure OVER 100 DEALERS 21,000 SQUARE FEET The Largest Antiques and Collectibles Mall on the Central Coast 471 WAVE STREET MONTEREY (831) 655-0264 P M canneryrowantiquemall.com Open Daily 11am-6pm ’22 Voted Monterey County's Best Antique Shop