Recently, the New York Attorney General’s office found that many supplements sold by four major retailers (GNC, Walgreen’s, Target and Wal-Mart) did not deliver what the label promised.
There were two major problems found:
Issue #1: Most of the tested supplements contained undisclosed fillers such as carrots, legume powders, and even houseplants.
Issue #2: According to DNA testing, only 21% of products contained even a trace of the the herb that was advertized, suggesting almost 80% are totally bogus.
The second issue has been questioned by some scientists including Pieter Cohen, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He says that DNA tests can produce many false-negatives because the herb used is often processed to the extent that the DNA is no longer present.
Cohen concurs that there is a massive problem when it comes to the efficacy and purity of supplements. But his research has never shown such extremely widespread violations (source).
Bottom line: We can all agree that quality and efficacy is of utmost importance when it comes to supplements. Otherwise it’s throwing money out the window, or worse – a detriment to our health.
Three things to look for when you shop for supplements:
1) Investigate the company. Before purchasing a product, research the company’s practices. Do they have third-party quality testing? Are there any certification stamps on the bottle? Send the company an email or give them a call. They should be able to convince you that purity and efficacy is top priority.
2) Avoid fillers. Here are some common additives to beware of – magnesium stearate, titanium dioxide, maltodextrin, hydrogenated oils, and artificial dyes & preservatives.
3) Research absorbability. It may seem tedious, but investing a few minutes of your time to research the list of active ingredients can make a big impact in your health. And you will learn a lot!
The various forms of vitamins and minerals are not created equal. Here are a couple of examples:
Magnesium. I recommend magnesium glycinate because it is a highly absorbable form of the mineral and people can tolerate a good dose without having their stools affected. Magnesium citrate, another absorbable form, more quickly leads to loose stools. Each is beneficial in different situations.
Omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are critical for proper brain and nerve health. But DHA and EPA found in fish are much more effective brainfood than ALA (a superfood for other reasons) found in chia and flax seeds.
Most of your nutrients should come from a healthy, balanced diet. But a targeted supplement plan, rather than a mishmash of “miracle cures”, can help tremendously on your journey to whole health.
Don’t shy away from all supplements in light of the recent controversy. But do your research.