In Part 1 of this series of articles I shared with you my thoughts about supplements and whether I thought they were necessary or not. I also shared my thoughts about the difficulty in choosing your supplements. I promised to share with you in Part 2 what to “look for” and “what to look out” for in choosing your supplements.
I think one of the best articles I have seen on this subject was written recently by Joel Marion the Co-Founder of Bio Trust Nutrition, the company whose products I use and recommend to my clients. After reading the article below I believe you will have a much better understanding of what to look for and out for and why I and many other top notch trainers and health care professionals choose Bio Trust for their supplements.
In Part 3, I will let Joel explain what sets his company Bio-Trust Nutrition ahead of the rest and why I choose Bio Trust! I will also provide a link to their website so that you can learn more and try for yourself if you wish!
Hi, it’s Joel Marion, Co-Founder of BioTRUST Nutrition, and today I’m going to reveal the shocking TRUTH about the supplement industry—including 6 common “fake supplement scams” that may be negatively affecting the quality of supplements already in your home. My intention today is to help you avoid being taken advantage of and to ensure you feel confident that the supplements you are purchasing are real and of top quality. (Unfortunately, many aren’t.)
Then, at the end of this article, I’m going to provide you with a special coupon code to save 25% off all your favorite protein powders, greens, fish oils, probiotics, and more as a special thank you.
To begin, over the last five years, the dietary supplement industry has been flooded with sketchy manufacturers, online marketers, and newbies, many of whom don’t have a clue how to truly create safe and effective formulations. Many of these manufacturers and marketers have no college degree or professional training in the field, and what’s more, they are clueless about the many laws and regulations that are enforced by the FTC and FDA.
As a result, tens of thousands of ineffective, potentially tainted, and flat-out bad supplements have infiltrated the market—especially fish oil supplements and herbal products.
When you think about it, no one is going to open a dental practice without proper training and knowledge (and start filling cavities and yanking teeth); however, many new brands feel it’s perfectly fine to start their own supplement brand—without knowledge or training—and in doing this, they are unknowingly putting their customers’ health at serious risk.
Make no mistake about it, the government is cracking down in a big way on these bad supplement companies.
For starters, as part of a nationwide sweep, the U.S. Department of Justice and its federal partners pursued civil and criminal cases against more than 100 manufacturers and marketers of dietary supplements—both retail and online—and they also arrested 5 offenders. Offenses included not meeting label claims, making illegal health and disease treatment claims, and adulteration of dietary supplements with legitimate pharmaceutical drugs… scary stuff for consumers.
Although the DNA testing method used was in question, the New York State Attorney General’s Office went after GNC®, WalMart®, Walgreens®, and Target® for selling supplements that did not come close to meeting label claims. 79% of the herbal products they tested did not contain the herbs claimed on the label. Although we question the accuracy of the testing method used, this still raises a flag.
Beyond that, many people mistakenly believe that dietary supplements are not regulated by the federal government. However, this simply is not true. While the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 makes selling natural dietary supplements legal and limits the power of the FDA over supplements, there is still a vast number of regulations to which compliant supplement companies must adhere to be in good standing with the FDA and to avoid getting into serious trouble. The problem is, many companies ignore these important safety precautions.
The federal government regulations include:
- Supplement companies must be registered with the FDA. (Many aren’t.)
- Companies must only use safe, untainted ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, and amino acids that have been part of our food supply for thousands of years. (Many don’t sell safe products because the ingredients are tainted and untested.)
- The FDA requires that supplement companies use manufacturers that follow CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Processes) guidelines. GMP Certification is a third-party certification program that includes inspection of manufacturing facilities to determine whether specific food safety and quality performance indicators are being met. Most manufacturers are not certified, or they have let their certifications expire. Even worse, many manufacturers will advertise that they are GMP certified, when in fact they are only certified in one small area, such as protein bars and food products, while having NO certification for the capsule and softgel products they are producing. (This happens all the time.)
- The FDA requires companies to test their products to ensure they meet label claims for identity, purity, strength, and composition, as well as to ensure that they meet stringent standards for contaminants. However, it’s very expensive, and most companies simply don’t spend the money for qualified third-party testing; in some cases, they don’t even have the knowledge to do it.
Unfortunately, in contrast to these strict guidelines, many supplement companies simply bid out their manufacturing to the lowest bidder, slap a label on an ineffective formula, and then create illegal, misleading marketing copy to sell an adulterated, ineffective, and possibly harmful product.
Truth is, many supplement brands have no idea what is truly in the products they sell because the manufacturers they buy from provide falsified lab tests—or none at all. You see, lab tests cost money, and some brands are worried more about making a quick buck then your safety and results.
Here are 6 unsavory tactics used by unethical brands:
- Dry labbing: A shocking number of manufacturers’ lab results can’t be trusted, as there’s a common practice called “dry labbing,” which involves printing falsified testing results.
- Proprietary blends: Those laundry lists of ingredients on the ingredient declaration that just list the total amount (i.e.,mass) of the “blend” are usually done to save costs at your expense.
- Ingredient dusting: Also known as “fairy dusting,” this practice usually occurs with proprietary blends (mentioned above) as a way to add a practically useless level of an ingredient yet still listing it as being “in the product.”
- Adulteration: Deceiving, you the customer, by listing ingrdients that are not in the product, or worse yet, by adding ingredients that are not listed—ingredients that may be potentially harmful or make athletes test “positive” for performance enhancing drugs.
- Nitrogen spiking: A more recent and alarming form of adulteration is adding nitrogen-containing ingredients (e.g. creatine, glycine, arginine, taurine) to artificially inflate the claimed protein levels in a product.
- Inferior ingredients: This involves using the cheapest sources of an ingredient to save money. For instance, not listing the plant part (e.g., Ginkgo leaf vs. whole plant) or the active component in the herb (e.g., using a 1% vs. 95% extract) that is found in research to be effective.
The bottom line is that good folks (like you and I) are putting these supplements into our bodies, and these products can potentially do great harm if the people formulating and manufacturing them aren’t legitimate experts. Ultimately, very few fly-by-night brands in this industry know what they are doing, and even if they did, they aren’t willing to spend the money to do things the right way.
In fact, before you take any product, I suggest asking the supplement brand these very serious questions:
- Who formulated this product, and what credentials does s/he have?
- Do you have every batch of your products tested by an independent third-party lab in addition to what the manufacturer provides you? What do you do if the products don’t meet label claims?
- Do you audit your manufacturers by going into the facilities with a third-party team of experts to inspect their processes and procedures? (Most never do this.)
- Does your manufacturer have FDA citations or warning letters? Does your manufacturer fail to meet GMP standards? Look For GMP-criteria and NSF certifications. (Warning: Many manufacturers have expired, outdated certifications or tout certifications that are meaningless.)
- Are you registered with the FDA?
- Do you conduct stability and shelf-life testing? Have you included overages in the formulas so that the products still meet or exceed label claims through their published shelf-life? (Almost no one does this, but they are required to.)
- Do you perform studies on your actual finished products with credible experts?
- What is your Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating? (BioTRUST has an A+)
If you actually ask a supplement company these questions, you will start to see their true colors emerge when it starts stammering, can’t give clear answers, and can’t provide real documentation. The fact is, many new brands don’t have a clue what they are doing in this industry, and they shouldn’t be selling supplements.