Stay Safe And Get Your Money’s Worth Too
In 2007, a manufacturer of a popular line of creatine, nitric oxide, fat burners and protein supplements was the subject of a massive class action law suit for false advertising.
Since 2011, supplement manufacturers of herbal products such as St. John’s Wort, Echinanea and Ginseng Root have routinely been scrutinised for consistently delivering products that do not contain the ingredients as advertised.
Early this year, an independent study on 5 of the most popular supplement brands in the market showed these did not include the proportion of ingredients as stated in their label.
Coincidentally, these supplement brands were among the most expensive in the market.
If you are serious about maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle or if you are in pursuit of a personal goal, supplements should be considered part of your program.
Supplements are a convenient way to ensure your body gets the vitamins and minerals it needs to support your physical activities.
But the supplement industry is largely unregulated. Supplement manufacturers are not required to prove the authenticity of their claims or the veracity of the ingredients stated on their label.
This is because supplements are not categorised as drugs.
The manufacturers are not obligated to prove their products are safe before these are distributed to the market.
The job of the regulating agencies is to prove these products are “unsafe” once these have been marketed.
Therefore, it falls on you, the consumer, to ensure the supplement you are taking is safe.
Here are 5 ways to check the quality of your supplement:
1. Do Your Research
The supplement industry has become a billion dollar money-making machine. Several of the most popular supplement makers spend millions on advertising.
They hire professional athletes as endorsers and promote “independent lab studies” that validate the effectiveness of their product.
You should not be misled into believing that a professional athlete or celebrity or a study used as part of marketing copy are irrefutable truths. Keep in mind, these are paid advertising materials.
Take the time to do research. Check the websites of consumer interest groups and anti-doping agencies such as the USFDA and WADA which routinely post lists of supplements with banned or dangerous substances.
2. Look For Quality Assurance Labels
According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, you should look for brands that carry a third-party seal of approval from these independent organisations:
• United States Pharmacopeia (USP)
• NSF International
• Consumer Lab
Products that have a seal from any of these organisations have undergone rigorous testing to ensure quality of ingredients.
3. Be Suspicious Of Proprietary Blends
Pre-workout, whey protein and creatine supplements are notorious for displaying labels that indicate proprietary blends.
A propriety blend is another way of saying the manufacturer does not want to state the proportion of the ingredients.
They maintain the blend is a “secret formula or mixture” that is unique only to the product.
So you can buy a pre-workout that states “18,100 mgs of Proprietary Blend Strength Matrix composed of beta alanine, creatine ethyl esther and BCAAs”.
But what is the proportion of each? You could be getting 2,000 mgs of each ingredient and the rest are only useless fillers!
4. Pricing Does Not Always Equate To Quality
When manufacturers price their products, they factor in the cost of supplies used for production.
So it may not be wise to buy the cheapest supplements in the market.
On the other hand, the supplements under investigation are also the most expensive.
In fact many are consistent winners of consumer survey awards which should lead you to question the integrity of those committees.
Again, we go back to the importance of research and the value of finding accurate information.
Everything else you see on the label should be viewed as nothing more than marketing copy.
5. Consider Pure Supplements
You may also wish to consider shifting to pure supplements or those that do not have artificial ingredients, sweeteners and additives.
They may not taste as good but the companies that manufacture these supplements are more transparent about their production methods.
You can even request for a plant visit to be assured of their process.
Supplements remain an important component but always keep in mind that not all are created equal.
It remains a business after all and manufacturers are looking to protect their bottom line as you are looking to protect your own health.
When buying supplements, be more discerning and discriminating. A little paranoia can go a long way when it comes to your health and fitness.