My friend stared at me in disbelief, her mouth agape with confusion until she finally mustered up the words “how the heck are regular people supposed to know what to do?!” I don’t expect them to, I told her. That’s why I’m just going to have to do it for them. Because this is just not fair.
The billion dollar unregulated wild west business of supplements. The supplement industry, while encouraged to use GMP (good manufacturing practices), is mostly left to the honor system. Seriously.
The DSHEA, enacted by Congress in 1994, classifies these products as foods, rather than as drugs (Ventola, 2010) which switches the burden of proof for safety, efficacy, and more to the company themselves and off the FDA.
There are of course many good supplement companies out there but for every one good there’s a dozen bad ones that “test” *wink wink* their product and deem it “safe” and “effective” *wink wink* and off to market it goes.
But that’s not what made my friend’s jaw fall to the floor. We know at face value that this proposition is a scary one, but until you really take a look into the details and facts of what’s been going on, you don’t truly understand just how horrifying it is.
The products could be contaminated with heavy metals (this is especially common when the products come from China) (Boyer, 2005).
The products may contain unlabeled fillers like wheat, rice, or other common allergens. This is especially frightening for someone with celiac disease who could be harmed by a wheat containing supplement.
Researchers from the University of Guelph examined 44 products from 12 different companies and discovered that up to 60% contained DNA from ingredients not listed on the label and 20% used fillers that were not listed on the labels
The products may mainly contain AN ENTIRELY different product than they claim to contain! The results of this can range from the product just plain old not working, to extreme danger. In 2008 a Belgian herbal slimming formula accidentally substituted the herb Stephania tetranda with Aristolochia fangchi, (cuz, I mean…they sort of look the same….so…?) which contains the cytotoxin aristolochic acid. Countless patients ended up in the hospital with renal fibrosis (Waldman, Terzic, 2008).
The products may not even contain enough active ingredients to do what it’s supposed to do. Have you seen the studies about how a particular vitamin or supplement did NOTHING? Unfortunately a lot of those studies don't have quality control for which supplements are utilized in their studies (insert facepalm here). What a waste of money.
So as you can see the effects of this shady industry range from waste of money all the way up to deadly. Cue mouth dropping to floor amiright? Yes, it’s confusing and scary and hard to try to figure all of this out, but don’t worry, I’ve got you.
For years now I’ve been vetting various supplement companies. Analyzing their manufacturing practices, their additives, their third party lab testing verifications, and perhaps most importantly, taking them myself.
I’ve come up with a list of very good products over the years (and let me tell you, none of these brands will be found on amazon, at Target, or at GNC). They only sell directly to practitioners that are certified and registered to sell their product and it goes directly from them to me, no shadiness in between.
For years I’ve had these products in my office for my clients when a need arises for a probiotic, a K2 vitamin, etc. But now I’m opening the doors to EVERYONE. I was sick and tired of watching people throwing away their money on fake and harmful supplements, so I opened an online store. Every product in my store is one that I personally take (and am obsessed with) and I’ve personally vetted and now you can have them too.
You absolutely don’t need to buy a darn thing from me, but do hear this, whatever you do buy, from wherever, please investigate it as fully as possible. Look on their website for testing results. Look for their list of fillers. Heck, even call them and ask about their manufacturing processes if you have the time. But be careful out there in the wild west of supplements.
If you do choose to buy from me, here’s the site.
Boyer, E. (2005). Journal of Medical Toxicology. Issues in the management of dietary supplement use among hospitalized patients. 1(1):30-4.
Waldman SA, Terzic A. Pharmacology and Therapeutics: Principles to Practice. Philadelphia: Elsevier/WB Saunders; 2008. pp. 1237–1243
Ventola. (2010). Current Issues Regarding Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the United States Part 2: Regulatory and Safety Concerns and Proposed Governmental Policy Changes with Respect to Dietary Supplements. 35(9): 514–522.