It is an understatement to say that there is wide variation in quality
among dietary supplements.
How many times have you read a news report revealing that a shocking percentage of products tested contained only a fraction of the ingredient potency they claimed to have…or a newspaper story about a supplement that was contaminated with heavy metals, or worse, adulterated with cheap material?
Dietary supplements are substances used to add nutrients to your diet and optimize cellular function. They may contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, herbs or enzymes. Supplements come in the form of pills, capsules, powders, gel tabs, extracts or liquids.
While it is important to eat a balanced diet with a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables, our food today doesn’t contain as many nutrients as they once did due to the depletion of nutrients in soil in combination with being picked before fully ripened to successfully transport across the world for consumption. You would have to eat a dozen bowls of spinach today to get the iron content from 1 bowl of spinach in the 1930’s. The Journal of Complimentary Medicine reports a whopping 76 percent decline in trace minerals in USA fruits and vegetables. Because of this, supplementation is necessary, IN ADDITION TO, vitamins and nutrients we get from food.
13% of us get enough fruits (1-1/2 – 2 cups daily) 87% DO NOT
8% of us get enough vegetables (2-3 cups) 92% DO NOT
While you do not need a doctor’s prescription to purchase dietary supplements, it can be overwhelming to educate yourself on where to find the best quality brands. The supplement business is a multi-billion-dollar global industry where you can find just about anything you’re looking for online or at a store at a price that is easily affordable. In short, vitamins and supplements are easily accessible, but they are NOT all made equal.
Due to the convenience of obtaining a supplement, there is an enormous amount of competition and demand for companies to stay relevant in a world where people are becoming increasingly more health conscious. An initial thought would be to seek out your local supplement store or big box store but you may want to think twice. In 2015, The New York State Attorney General’s office found that four of five tested top-selling store brand products did not contain any of the herbs listed on four different national retailers’ labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained nothing more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.1 Did you know that over-the-counter supplements are not required to go through a series of testing for consumer consumption? To add more complication, large e-commerce companies such as Amazon, find counterfeit products penetrating their market making it tricky to know the quality and reliability of what’s available to you.
The best option for seeking out a trustworthy label is to find a pharmaceutical grade product. What makes them better? The below table shows the required testing standards to be categorized as pharmaceutical to ensure purity and maximum absorption:
|Pharmaceutical||Over The Counter|
|Pharmaceutical grade vitamins must absorb in your body within 45 minutes.||No requirement for bioavailability – it may or may not dissolve in your body.|
|Raw ingredients must be tested before production.||No ingredient testing requirements.|
|Products are required to be 99% pure. This means it won’t be full of binders, fillers, dyes, or other unknown substances.||No purity requirements. Products may contain any substance deemed “safe for human consumption”.|
|Expiration dates guarantee the potency of the supplement through that day. This is determined through thorough testing.||FDA does not require expiration dates for nutritional dietary supplements so no guarantee of potency.|
|Ingredients listed on the bottle must agree with those within the capsule.||Because raw ingredients are not tested labels and contents are often inconsistent.|
|Only available through reputable medical practices. Note: pharmaceutical grade products are not available online or through retailers such as Wal-Mart. IF YOU SEE PRODUCTS LISTED AS SUCH, BUYER BEWARE.||Available for purchase online and at major retail establishments. These retailers do not have to regulate the source or quality of goods sold.|
One would assume that all supplements would need to go through ingredient testing at the very least, but over the counter products are not required to and less than 3% of supplements meet pharmaceutical grade standards.2 Knowing this information, one can see that it could not only be a waste of money but also a potential risk to your health without the certainty of ingredients in your supplement. At Victory Men’s Health, we offer pharmaceutical grade supplements as a commitment to transparency and efficacy. For more information on the supplements we offer, please contact one of our offices.