So I recently listened to a presentation given by Dr. David Colby who has a Doctorate in Pharmacy and Ph.D in Chemistry. He conducts research on natural products and teaches dietary supplements and medicinal chemistry to pharmaceutical students at the University of Mississippi. Some of his work has been made into products for companies and reported in the Wall Street Journal. He has over 25 scientific peer reviewed publications to his name. So this comes from someone in the field of research and he walks us through how supplements are made but first he asks why quality is so important. On another presentation he focuses on the adulteration of dietary supplements which basically means that they are not pure and there may be contaminants, filler, or additives other than what is listed on the label.
Why is quality in supplements important?
So I think we all may take quality for granted. I, personally as a consumer, feel that if it is put on a shelf than it must be safe, but that is not always true as we know from recalls on products. Sure some things are regulated and tested, and some aren’t. So let me give you a few of the many examples available.
- Oxy Elite Pro was recalled in 2013 for an outbreak of acute non-viral hepatitis in which 72 of the 92 reported cases people took this supplement. With that 47 were hospitalized, 3 had liver transplants and 1 died. There was an ingredient called aegeline in the product that was not shown to be safe. Did I mention this product is still on the market? Not sure if they have fixed the issue yet or not!
- GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens were found earlier last year to be selling herbs that contained little to no of the actual herb in it. Only five out of 24 products tested were found to be authentic by the New York Attorney General.
- Back in 2013 there was a blind study done about the substitution in North American herbal products. A picture is worth a 1000 words. They tested 12 herbal products and only two contained the full amount of the authentic product…. 2 out of 12! Contamination comes from poor manufacturing processes where product substitution would come from using an entirely different ingredient!
4. The Oregon Attorney General launched an investigation of unlabeled ingredients in workout and weight loss supplements with results published in October of 2015. They found the supplements to be spiked with stimulants that were drugs but not included on the label.
5. Some supplements are associated with higher risks of heart attack and diabetes. The Landmark Study compared Shaklee users, with single supplement user and non supplement users. The single supplement users had a higher instance of heart attack and diabetes compared with the non supplement users. Furthermore “Because supplements are regulated as foods, not as drugs, the FDA doesn’t evaluate the quality of supplements or assess their effects on the body. If a product is found to be unsafe after it reaches the market, the FDA can restrict or ban its use.”
And to top it all off “Manufacturers are also responsible for the product’s purity, and they must accurately list ingredients and their amounts. But there’s no regulatory agency that makes sure that labels match what’s in the bottles. You risk getting less, or sometimes more, of the listed ingredients. All of the ingredients may not even be listed.”
I find this so scary. I’m just hitting the tip of the iceberg and plan to write a series of posts on this. You need to ask questions and know where companies are getting their ingredients, the tests they are running, the quality of the ingredients and so forth. This first post was just to alert you to the problem. Stay tuned to learn more. Do you know of any supplements that have contaminants? Are there brands you trust and why?