Does it make a difference what brand of natural supplement you buy? Turns out it sure does. Below are a few studies that have been done on natural supplements to see if they contained the labeled ingredients and didn’t contain ingredients that could be harmful. Since natural supplements are becoming more and more popular, there are a large number of on-going studies to determine what ingredients are most effective and what other ingredients might make them even more health promoting. The bottom line is that you must research and trust the company that you purchase natural supplements from.
New York Attorney General & Major Retail Herbal Supplements
In 2015, the New York Attorney General conducted tests on herbal supplements at four major retail store – GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart. The lab testing showed that four out of five supplements did not contain any of the herbs on their label. Instead they contained fillers like powdered rice, asparagus, and house plants. In some cases, they contained things that could be dangerous for those with allergies. They sent cease and desist letters to each retailer and demanded they remove the product from their shelves. In 2016, NBTY Inc, one of the largest U.S. herbal supplement producers, agreed to conduct an advanced form of genetic testing to ensure that its herbal products contain what their labels say they contain.
ConsumerLab.com and Turmeric/Curcumin Products
This past April, ConsumerLab.com purchased and tested many popular turmeric and curcumin products. Two of the products test only two contained about 50% of the curcumin compounds expected based on the labels. Of the products that passed testing, the price of equal amounts of curcumin for each product was calculated. The results showed that the same amount of curcumin varied in price from .20 cents to over $8.00. As important as the amount of curcumin is the bioavailability of the compounds. Ingredients such as black pepper extract (Bioperene) increases absorption of the curcumin. There are many vitamins, minerals, spices, and herbs that are not readily absorbed if they are not paired with the correct supporting ingredients.
Labdoor and Fish Oil/Probiotic Product Testing
Labdoor is an independent company that tests supplements to determine if they contain what they claim and to make sure they do not contain any harmful ingredients or contaminants. The products are then scored and ranked. They tested 54 of the best selling fish oil supplements for total omega-3s, EPA and DHA, vitamin D, and CLA content, methylmercury concentration, and total oxidation values. 32 of the 54 products measured contained a variance of 10% or more of the omega-3s stated on the label. More alarmingly, 3 contained 50% more mercury than the allowable limit per serving.
The test results on 37 top selling probiotics were equally alarming. The total viable bacteria ranged from 0% to 308% of the product’s stated label claims. Only 9 of the 37 contained the measured specific bacterial strains in amounts shown to be effective in scientific research studies.
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