Personally, I have no specific problem with natural supplements. In fact, more than 50% of prescribed pharmaceutical come directly from natural sources. It may be that many of the substances you get at the GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, or elsewhere are truly beneficial. Why isn’t it Vitamin Shop? Does the store date back to Ye Olde English times? Anyways, the problem with these substances is that they are not evaluated and monitored by the FDA. For those of you government haters out there you may want to reconsider your disdain for this specific government agency (I have no comment on the other parts of government). With respect to medicines, the FDA does three very important things:
- They test the safety of medicinal substances.
- They test their efficacy. This is fancy speak for saying they test whether or not the substance does what the manufacterer says it does.
- They make sure that the pills you take actually contain the substances the manufacturers claim is in them in the quantities that they say. In otherwords, they make sure your 40mg Lipitor tablet is actually 40mg and actually Lipitor.
In other words, the FDA is there to make sure your drugs are as safe as possible, do what their supposed to, and are provided to you with integrity. It is not always perfect but overall it does a very good job.
In the 90s the soon-to-be multi billion dollar neutraceutical industry pushed some legislation through congress that allowed substances to be labeled and a “food supplement”. With this designation, the substances could bypass the FDA and be directly marketed to you and I. This means that when you take a supplement you don’t know if that item is:
- actually in the pill you’re taking
It’s this last issue that has come under scrutiny of late. A group of researches under the direction of the New York State Attorney General randomly took specific supplements (Gingko, St John’s Wort, and Garlic) straight off the shelves of Walmart, Walgreens, GNC, and Target. They then took them to the lab to see if the pills contained the substances that were on the labels. DNA testing on hundreds of bottles found that about 80% contained none of the herbs on the label. Instead, they were packed with cheap fillers such as wheat, rice, beans or houseplants. As an example, tests found no echinacea or any other plant material in bottles of Walmart’s Spring Valley Echinacea. No ginseng was found in 20 tests of GNC’s Herbal Plus Ginseng. Other supplements tested included garlic, which is said to boost immunity and prevent heart disease; ginkgo biloba, often touted as a memory-booster; and saw palmetto, promoted as a prostate treatment. DNA tests found such substances as rice, beans, pine, citrus, asparagus, primrose, wheat, houseplant, wild carrot and unidentified non-plant material — none of which were mentioned on the label. Walmart had the worst numbers with only 4 percent of the products showing DNA from the plants listed on the labels.
This is the problem with the health food industry. Their products may or may have the benefits they say. They may or may not be safe. They may or may not even contain the substances they claim. They may or may not be a total waste of money.
If I were to humbly offer some advice. Save your money and put it to something more valuable, like my book. It’s filled with information to educate you on how your body works with respect to weight loss. You’ll read it and know everything you need to know based only on real science, no clever marketing or fads. You can link to the amazon page by clicking here.