Recently, you might have seen something on the news about the New York attorney general’s office conducting an investigation into various retailers selling adulterated supplements.
Adulterants are foreign substances that are not listed on the ingredients label, and are considered impure substances that contaminate, or degrade an otherwise pure material.
Among the stores being investigated, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Target, and GNC, all received cease and desist letters to discontinue selling supplements contaminated with material not listed on the label. These and other retailers across the U.S., not just in New York; are doing this. It just so happens that the New York attorney general’s office is taking steps to do something about this serious problem, which unfortunately, which has been occurring for decades.
In addition, over the past few years there have been more than one instance of this type of supplement fraud involving both a brick and mortar retailer and on-line sellers.
In 2013, counterfeit supplements were being sold on Amazon.com. This was very alarming, because the counterfeit supplements had labels with name brands on them, but were in fact adulterated. The problem with over – the – counter (OTC) supplements or those purchased from an on-line retailer is that, “you don’t know what you’re getting and the products are of low-quality at best.” “Basically, you get what you pay for.”
Even though Amazon acknowledged the problem and took steps to try and counteract the counterfeiters, its going to be a very difficult issue to regulate for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there are millions of sellers who sell their products through Amazon, many of whom operate outside the US. Secondly, there is the fact that Amazon makes a lot of money in commissions from the products sold on their website. Just as a side note, you also have to worry about OTC name brands that are intentionally adulterating their products in order to increase their profit margins; sadly this is not uncommon.
When you buy these cheaper brands you also have to take into consideration that you’re not getting exactly what you’re paying for. Standardization of ingredients has long been a problem, one thought to be reconciled; but many brands still skimp on the ingredients. One case in point was brought to light in 2013, when an independent study was conducted on 12 different OTC brands of vitamin D. What they found was that the level of vitamin D was most often much lower than what was reported on the label, and sometimes there was a difference between capsules within the same bottle. (ABC News Report, 2013)
These are perfect examples of why we always recommend that patients purchase products from the clinic, because we receive our products directly from the manufacturer; no middle guys or unknowns. Of course, I can’t speak for all practitioners, but based on my own integrity, when I recommend a supplement from a brand that we carry, it’s because I’ve done the research and validated the quality of the products, as well as, reputation of the company; and those same products I would personally use myself.
Knowing what’s in the product can be very important, especially for those patients out there who have allergic reactions to particular substances. What would happen if you had an allergic reaction to a supplement, but the ingredients weren't accurate? You wouldn't be able to tell the doctor what exactly you took.
I hope this has been helpful for those looking to expand there knowledge on what you should know before buying a supplement. If you have any questions, please send me an email and I will be more than happy to respond.
If you're interested in buying high-quality supplements from a reputable company that is committed to clinical research, we recommend Thorne Research.
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