It’s a tough supplement world out there! Unbeknownst to much of the public, supplements are not tested for safety or efficacy by the FDA. You read right…NOT tested. Any regulation is the responsibility of the manufacturer. And unfortunately, there are a lot of companies that take advantage of this to make a buck. There are plenty of supplements that are overpriced, ineffective, and even harmful. So how do you protect yourself as a consumer?
First, understand what falls under the category of “supplement.” Per the FDA, “The law defines dietary supplements in part as products taken by mouth that contain a ‘dietary ingredient.’ Dietary ingredients include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs or botanicals, as well as other substances that can be used to supplement the diet.” 1 Further, supplements are products without claims to treat, cure, prevent or otherwise address a disease, which would make them a “drug” and therefore in need of regulation by the FDA. A LOT of things fall under the supplement category.
Second, also understand that this issue is known, and there are some safeguards to help protect the public, and supplement companies. To help assure that you’re getting a quality product, some supplements will carry a 3rd party testing label on their products. This might include Consumerlab.com, NSF International, or US Pharmacopeial Convention, to name a few. If you’re a supplement user that gets drug tested, choosing a 3rd party tested brand is highly recommended.
These aren’t always easy to find, since 3rd party testing costs supplement companies money. A couple of favorites to get you started: Garden of Life (Their “Sport” line is NSF certified and sold in many grocery stores and Amazon), Thorne (also NSF certified, available online). If you want to find other 3rd party tested brands, you can start by checking out the NSF database at http://info.nsf.org/Certified/dietary/. Safe supplementing, my friends!