Tackling The Fake Supplement Issue
When you’re on the search for supplements, you want them to be of the highest quality, you want them to be efficient, and you want them to come from a reliable source.
You also want them to be both cost-effective and professional-grade, ensuring the best results for your health, which means you need to know how to discern professional supplements from those that don’t contain quality ingredients, or worse, contain fillers and harmful ingredients.
First things first: according to the US Food & Drug Administration, supplements include “vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes,” and they make take the form of “tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, powders, and liquids.” This is true with protein, pre-workout supplements, hair growth supplements, protein supplements, dietary supplements, herbal supplements, and weight loss pills.
While the FDA is “not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed,” they can remove dietary supplements from the market if they are found to be unsafe or if the claims on the products are false or misleading.
Because supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, it’s important to do your research before you purchase or consume supplements.
What Are Fake Supplements?
In 2015, The New York Times reported that several top-selling vitamin and supplement brands at several national retailers “did not contain any of the herbs on their labels.”
Instead, “tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.” Some supplements were even contaminated, leading to major health issues like hepatitis.
In an FDA Consumer Update, it was said that, “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found nearly 300 fraudulent products—promoted mainly for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding—that contain hidden or deceptively labeled ingredients, such as the active ingredients in FDA-approved drugs or their analogs (closely-related drugs), or other compounds, such as novel synthetic steroids, that do not qualify as dietary ingredients.”
This is why it’s so important to know what you’re up against when searching for quality, professional-grade supplements. Unfortunately, there are whole markets, especially via online retailers, that sell fake supplements. In an industry worth billions, this is a real problem—with real consequences.
To ensure both quality and safety, it’s key that you purchase your vitamins and supplements from trusted sources.
How to Tell if You’re Buying Professional-Grade Supplements
According to Functional Medicine expert Jill Carnahan, MD, you’ll want to search for products citing “Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).” As she states, “Sure, it may be slightly less convenient to get each supplement from a supplier…. but if you’re spending your money on concentrated health products, doesn’t taking the extra few minutes to make sure you’re getting exactly what it says on the bottle seem worth it? When it comes to what you’re putting in your body, we know now more than ever before it’s worth it to be vigilant. This is an important step in taking control of our health and living our best, most fulfilling lives.”
The most reputable manufacturers must comply with strict Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations enforced by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Manufacturers of high quality supplements also pride themselves on their products being evidence-based by means of human clinical trials published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Why You Should Never Buy Supplements on Amazon or eBay
You should know that not every retailer is trustworthy. Many major retail sites—like Amazon or eBay—offer too-good-to-be-true, budget supplements from hundreds of thousands of less-than-trustworthy sellers.
Just because you find a “professional-grade” product on one of these sites doesn’t mean it’s not counterfeit, and if you purchase from these sites, you run the risk of either paying for fillers or potentially taking something harmful. Make sure you know exactly who is manufacturing your supplements and what sort of quality control promise they make.
Warning Signs for Fraudulent Supplements
First, you’ll want to avoid shopping simply for the bargain (as we mentioned above). In fact, a bargain should be seen as a red flag! Any trustworthy company using high-quality ingredients cannot manufacture high-end supplements and offer them for very, very cheap. Many supplements on the market offering highly discounted prices run the risk of being counterfeit or offering expired, damaged, or repackaged supplements.
Next, you’ll want to play it safe and use your instincts. The US Food and Drug Administration recommends avoiding “products that are marketed primarily in a foreign language or those that are marketed through mass e-mails,” as well as products with extreme claims like “quick and effective,” “cure-all,” “can treat or cure diseases,” or “totally safe.”
You can also study the ingredient labels and use the internet to look up anything suspicious. The FDA recommends using official government sites like the National Institutes of Health, the FDA, or the USDA for research rather than the seller’s site.
You can check with the FDA to see if any of the ingredients are on their Tainted Products list. You can also check out ConsumerLab.com, which tests products independently and has no affiliations. Reviews are also your friend, but be mindful that reviews can also be counterfeit.
In the end, the US Food and Drug Administration says it’s better to be safe than sorry: “Before making decisions about whether to take a supplement, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you achieve a balance between the foods and nutrients you personally need.”
You can report any side effects or concerns to the Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area or through the Safety Reporting Portal.
The BodyLogicMD Promise
BoyLogicMD supplements that are properly chosen, obtained from reliable sources, and of professional grade are key when it comes to staying healthy. BodyLogicMD-partnered manufacturers focus on every element: safety, clinical trials, absorption rate, and the origin of the material.
BodyLogicMD only uses products that are of the highest quality and come from leading science-based manufacturers. These manufacturers both meet and exceed advanced safety and quality standards, including the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP). BodyLogicMD also requires that manufacturers pride themselves on their products being evidence-based.
BodyLogicMD-partnered manufacturers never use binders or fillers as these can restrict absorption and bioavailability. In addition to manufacturing products that have the best ingredients, they also ensure that their products come in the best form.
When in doubt, it’s best to ask a healthcare provider with advanced training in the area, such as a physician within the BodyLogicMD network. Supplements can be confusing, and taking the guesswork out of the process can ensure you get supplements that will safely and effectively work to improve your health and quality of life.
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