The sad reality is the supplement industry is largely unregulated, so what you choose really matters.
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash
Do you ever wonder if the supplements you’re taking actually do anything they claim to do? There’s a lot of controversy about whether supplements are beneficial, pointless, or downright harmful. The truth is, it depends on not only what supplements you take, but which brands you buy. The supplement industry is filled with deception and the average consumer has no idea how to uncover these lies. This primer explains.
Americans spend an estimated $35 billion on supplements every year. Most of these supplements not only provide zero benefit, but some can actually be harmful. There is no regulatory body governing the supplement industry, so this allows for all kinds of deceptive mislabelling, from purity and quality to being downright wrong and not having the actual ingredient advertised.
Consumers deserve to know exactly what they’re taking. Arguably, supplements should undergo the same level of testing as pharmaceuticals because these pills and powders are going into the body. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t enforce mandatory testing as a requirement to sell nutritional supplements. As a result, it should come to no surprise that with the increasing popularity of supplements, there’s been a congruent increase in adverse health events. Awareness needs to be raised because this poses a serious public health threat.
There are a number of things one should investigate when choosing a dietary supplement:
- Label accuracy – supplement labels advertise measured ingredient levels, but most brands don’t match their claimed values. Third-party tests have shown up to 80% of supplements on the market have less than what they claim, with some not containing the active ingredient at all.
- Product purity – a lot of supplement brands that are best-selling, celebrity endorsed, or even doctor recommended surprisingly contain contaminants. This is concerning, as some supplements contain heavy metals and chemicals known to cause cancer and/or reproductive toxicity. Some products also contain undeclared ingredients, which can result in allergic reactions.
- Nutritional value – consideration for macronutrients supplements should be tested to see if they match advertised values. Some protein brands have tested to have 300% more sugar and 10% of the actual protein content than the label claimed.
- Ingredient safety – unsafe levels of active ingredients and additives with potential health risks should be tested as there are tolerable upper intakes of nutrients.
- Projected efficacy – the bioavailability and concentration of supplements should be assessed because if a product is consumed and does not enter the bloodstream, it cannot be distributed and used by the body. Therefore, supplements with poor bioavailability have no benefit.
There are certifications companies can receive to validate the quality and purity of their products. Although, they aren’t the end all, be all, it is one indicator of a better quality product. These certifications include:
GMP – NSF – USP – NON-GMO – USDA ORGANIC
Some companies even go an extra step and test every batch of their products through a third-party lab to ensure they are upholding their standards. Taking dietary supplements to enhance your performance and improve your health is great, but it’s worthwhile to do your homework. Invest in high-quality products to receive optimal results.
To see where Verso stands on quality and purity, click here.