There’s a frightening and emerging trend plaguing the dietary supplement (DS) industry. Recent studies (conducted by independent labs, scientists, and/or newspapers) in which DS were randomly and independently tested have shown that DS products do not always contain the ingredients (or the purity of ingredients) stated on the product label. This concern goes across all supplements: vitamins, minerals, herbs/botanicals, and amino acids.
To complicate matters, manufacturers of DS are not required to submit products to the scientific scrutiny of the FDA because DS are regulated as a food product, not a drug. The Federal Trade Commission regulates advertising of product claims to prevent false claims, but that has nothing to do with the purity and quality of the pill you may be buying in the store. The FDA has the authority to spot-check supplements (and to remove products that violate certain regulations) but is not required by law to test, or require testing, on all over-the-counter supplements.
Several private groups, as well as the Government Accountability Office (Natural Resources and the Environment Division) want to have more done to hold supplement makers accountable for the purity of their products. It’s a heated debate, but as more clinicians, consumers, and retailers call for standardized practices for testing, producing, and marketing DS before they go on the market, the more confident we all can be about what we’re buying.
Be an informed consumer:
Read labels and understand what the terms on the label actually mean. Ingredients you don’t want to see include fillers, dyes, lead, dextrose.
Look for a Quality Assurance seal of approval: Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Even better if products was third-party tested.
Purchase products from your healthcare provider or a reputable company that distributes its product only thorough trained healthcare practitioners.
Research the product / company on the Internet: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Look for product recalls and scams: FDA Health Fraud Scams & Tainted Supplements.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true.
Check products (and product recalls) on these websites: Council for Responsible Nutrition, ConsumerLabs, and the National Institutes of Health Dietary Supplement QA Program.
Working for the last 10 years with various nutraceutical companies I have my list of “preferred” and “avoid”. I am gladly sharing this information with my patients and provide them with the best products on the market based on my expertise and experience. It is also imperative to use good product when one is looking for consistency in therapeutic results.
Feel free to call our office 212 -696-HEAL(4325) if you want supplements advise and consultation.
- ConsumerLab Independent Testing of Supplements https://www.consumerlab.com/aboutcl.asp
- Council for Responsible Nutrition. “One Dozen Tips for Consumers.” http://www.crnusa.org/CRNfactsheetconsumertips.html
- Harel, Z., et al. “The Frequency and Characteristics of Dietary Supplement Recalls in the United States.” JAMA Internal Medicine 173, no. 10 (2013): 929-930. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.379.
- National Institutes of Health Quality Assurance Program https://ods.od.nih.gov/Research/AMRMQualityAssuranceProgram.aspx
- U.S. Government Accountability Office. “Dietary Supplements: FDA Should Take Further Actions to Improve Oversight and Consumer Understanding.” Published January 29, 2009. http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-250
- U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention. “USP & Dietary Supplement Manufacturers.” http://www.usp.org/usp-manufacturers/dietary-supplements