How to Figure Out If Your Supplements Are Safe

How to Figure Out If Your Supplements Are Safe –  vitals.lifehacker.comby Beth Skwarecki – Dec 2015

By law, US companies can’t market supplements that are “adulturated or misbranded,” but no testing or approval is required.

A recent DNA analysis of several herbal supplements (sold at big name retailers like Target and Walgreen’s) showed that some of them didn’t contain any of their purported ingredients.  

The New York attorney general called for the products to be taken off the shelves on the basis of those results, although recently experts have identified potential problems with the test that was used.

Even if the results turn out to be wrong, we still know that such a situation is possible, given the lack of oversight.

If you do take supplements, how can you give yourself the best chance of buying ones that contain what you expect, no more and no less?

You can also look up your favorite supplements with these organizations and databases that report the results of supplement tests:

Supplements may not always contain what’s on the label, but with these tips and databases, you can be more confident that you know what you’re getting.

I looked into these databases and found that hardly any supplements are tested by independent organizations.

I was disappointed, though not surprised, that only a tiny minority are guaranteed to contain exactly what it says on the label. That certainly explains why we get such variable responses from them.


Then more recently, there’s this:

CVS Pharmacy Introduces Third Party Testing for All Dietary Supplements By Steve Duffy – May 17, 2019

Vitamins and supplements sold at CVS Pharmacy will now go through third party testing to verify the accuracy of the dietary ingredients listed on the packaging and to confirm that the product is free of certain additives

The “Tested to Be Trusted” program requires all dietary supplement products sold by CVS to be

  • certified by NSF International (a global public health testing organization),
  • verified by USP (United States Pharmacopeia),
  • or go through CVS Pharmacy’s required third party testing program through NSF or Eurofins, a laboratory specializing in food, pharmaceutical and environmental testing.

The testing includes verification of the dietary ingredients listed on the supplemental facts panel as well as a review of contaminants to ensure no harmful levels of a particular contaminant are present.

The Company states that over 1400 vitamins and supplements have already completed testing;

7% of the tested products failed which resulted in an update to the supplemental facts panel or removal of the product from stores and online.  

This low percentage is very different from the inverse that’s found in most studies, so I have to wonder how the results that CVS is announcing are being manipulated to show such good results.

I especially distrust the results of supplements going through “CVS Pharmacy’s required third-party testing”, which may be made to look positive though extreme bias.

1 thought on “How to Figure Out If Your Supplements Are Safe

  1. Kathy C

    I don’t trust any of them. The FDA refused to make a law demanding they contain what they claim. This was at the request of the supplement industry. The same thing with herbals supplements and CBD products, there is no way to figure out what is in these products. There is an awful lot of misreported science, used to market this stuff.
    Ten years ago a “Study” came out about Vitamin D, it turned out that people with more vitamin D in their bloodstreams were healthier. People who are more active and get outside in the sunshine are generally healthier. Instead of reporting that, they distorted the facts to sell vitamin D products. There was no evidence that taking Vitamin D, other than in people with real deficiencies, had any benefit. A clever marketer and ethically challenged, industry funded researchers, misreported that study to sell vitamins. The mass media amplified this nonsense, and deceptive marketers, made a lot of money on expensive “reformulated” vitamin D supplements. It was all a con, they even had physicians peddling the vitamins.

    Patients are targeted for this kind of marketing, since many are desperate and will try anything. Every week there is another miracle cure, or made up claim about nutrition, vitamins or herbal products. We are awash in this kind of multi level marketing scheme in media and online. It is having a disastrous effect on our health. Instead of eating properly or even expecting nutrients in our food, people spend a lot of money on vitamins. There is no evidence that here are any benefits. Any time we see a new study, making claims, it is easy to disqualify it. Just look at the subjects, people with higher incomes, tend to eat better, and have less stress, so they have better outcomes. Most studies misreport this effect, and leave it out entirely. This is how they Gas Light us all.

    The vitamin industry takes a few cents worth of materials, bottles, markets and labels them, and makes a huge profit. They make billions as our population health gets worse. Go to a supplement store and look at the people buying supplements, very few even look healthy!

    Liked by 1 person

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