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  • Marina Hedlund

This is why you should NOT buy your supplements on Amazon

Supplements are not a prescription drug, but what exactly are they?

Did you know the supplement industry is loosely ‘controlled’ by the FDA under the division of the DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health Education Act)? The DSHEA describes a supplement as “may contain, in whole or as a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, or extract, any combination of 1 or more vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs or other botanicals, and other substances used to increase total dietary intake, including enzymes, organ tissues, and oils. They must be intended for ingestion; sold in the form of capsules, tablets, soft gels, gel caps, powders, or liquids; and not be marketed as food items.” Supplements do not go through rigorous evaluation of efficacy before being put on the market. This also leaves a wide margin of safety for what is being sold to consumers.


Why are supplements from high quality companies usually more expensive?

It’s the quality, where the ingredients are sourced from and the rigorous testing that some of these companies do on their own products! Companies like NuMedica, Biotics, Designs for Health etc. pay to have third party companies look into their products for legitimacy, accuracy and safety. When you look at the label, check for an expiration date, not a date of manufactured. Why? Because supplement companies are expected to ensure the quality of the product as well as the amounts of nutrients in that product up until the day it ‘expires’. For example if your bottle of Vitamin D states that it exp

ires on June 6th 2022, the 2,000 IUs of Vitamin D in one pill must be bio available up until June 6th, after June 6th there is not a guarantee that you will be taking the actual amount of 2,000 IUs after that date. The way some cheaper companies get away with not guaranteeing amounts of nutrients in their products is using a date of manufactured. This is essentially a cop out of guaranteeing nutritional value when you purchase it. So try to find products that utilize an expiration date! A couple useful logos to keep an eye out for on higher quality products is the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as well as NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) and cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices). The NSF certification as well as cGMP is completely voluntary to participate in and these third parties have even higher standards than the FDA.


Where do fake supplements come from?

  1. They can be stolen.

  2. They can be legitimate products but expired (so they may not contain the full amount of nutrient listed on the bottle).

  3. Third party sellers (Amazon, eBay, etc.) can utilize trusted brands logos/labels and fill the bottle with fakes.


Ways to avoid fake or potentially harmful supplements:

  1. Get your nutrition through whole foods. :) Simplest answer, "eat your vitamins."

  2. Buy the supplement through a reputable manufacturer. If you need help determining if a manufacturer is good, reach out to Dr. Marina and she can help you research the manufacturer.

  3. FDA Tainted Products List (Unfortunately most of these make the list AFTER someone has had a reaction to the supplement)

  4. Verify seller information and read through reviews (if they seem fake they probably are) if you have to purchase through ebay or Amazon

  5. Again if you must purchase through Amazon, contact the manufacturer of the product directly to ask if they sell through Amazon. If they don’t, then you should err on the side of safety and not purchase.

  6. Look for signs of credibility. Third party testing is a good sign as well as trusted certifications.

If you think Amazon is the only one selling fake supps, check out this article:

https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/


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