More than half of the herbal and dietary supplements analyzed by researchers contained ingredients that differed from the list on their labels. Some had hidden ingredients that might actually harm health, researchers said.
Bodybuilding and weight-loss supplements, in particular, tended to contain ingredients not listed on their packaging, said lead researcher Dr. Victor Navarro, chair of hepatology for Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.
Chemical analyses found that product labels did not reflect ingredients for 80% of body building and performance enhancement supplements, and 72% of weight-loss products, the researchers reported. “We found that half of the bodybuilding supplements in our analysis contained undeclared anabolic steroids,” Navarro said.
The researchers and health experts are concerned that these mystery ingredients can cause lasting liver damage. More than 20% of liver damage cases reported to the U.S. Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network are attributed to herbal and dietary supplements, the researchers said in background notes.
Navarro and his team analyzed more than 200 supplements reported to the liver injury network by hundreds of patients, to see whether their labels reflected the actual contents. Only 90 of 203 products had labels that accurately reflected their content, the investigators concluded.
The FDA does not regulate the supplement industry as it does pharmaceuticals and medical devices, Navarro noted.
“It’s up to the public to complain, otherwise no one’s going to go in and check, as they do proactively with drugs,” said Sonya Angelone, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Unless there are adverse effects, nothing’s going to get done. There’s a lot of money to be made.”
Angelone added that anyone interested in using supplements should reach out to a registered dietitian or nutritionist. They can guide consumers to responsible companies that provide professional-grade supplements, Angelone said.
The findings were presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Association of the Study of Liver Diseases, in Washington, D.C.
Products that promote weight loss, body building, or increased sexual prowess are always suspect, especially if they work quickly. The article mentions anabolic steroids in body building supplements. In weight loss, it’s amphetamines (speed) and in supplements for sexual performance they hide testosterone. Yes, it’s illegal but hard to stop. As Sonya Angelone said it’s up to the consumer. If the claims seem too good to be true, they probably are.
Most companies hide these illegal drugs in their “proprietary blend”. That’s the exhaustive list of ingredients at the bottom of the label that fails to list the amount of each chemical compound or plant.
I use three very reputable companies for most of my supplement needs. They all have extensive laboratory facilities. Standard Process is the reference lab for over 50% of the organic farms in the United States. Medi-Herb, based in Australia, is recognized as a leader in herbal research. Their products all must meet pharmaceutical standards by law. Biotics was a lab before producing supplements. They did the research on the toxic dumping in the Love Canal.
All three of these companies reject raw materials like fish oil and various herbs when they do not pass their rigorous standards for active compounds or contamination. On occasion, a supplement will not be available because they could not find the raw materials that meet their standards.
The Bottom Line:
Please seek the advice of a qualified nutritionist prior to taking any supplements. Know the company that produces the supplement. Use European companies for herbal products or better yet, get them from Australia. Avoid any products that promise weight loss, body building or enhanced sexual performance.
Source: November 2, 2017 National Institutes of Health