Are Supplements Slowly Poisoning You?

Unregulated Toxic Supplements


Are Supplements Slowly Poisoning You?

It’s safe to say that for most Americans, our kitchen and bathroom cabinets boast a spectrum of supplement bottles as proof of our dedication to be “healthy.” In the age of convenience and immediate gratification, the appeal of health coming in pill-form has encouraged the supplement industry reach a whopping 31 billion dollars in the United States alone. These supplements are marketed to supply our bodies with all the nutrients we lack, but with little regard for the major problem of contamination. Supplements are not only recognized to enhance our health, but have the ability to assist in overcoming certain health disadvantages and diseases. Due to the frightening lack of regulations in the US, manufacturers are constantly distributing their supplements into the market without properly demonstrating proper safety and purity. The limited amount of laws and proper legislation within the dietary supplement industry is dangerous and costly for consumers health.

Supplements are Even More Unregulated than We Thought

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the dietary supplement industry, their authority is undermined by the Health and Education Act (DSHEA) established in 1994. According to the DSHEA, supplement producers are responsible for evaluating the safety and labeling of their products. Meaning that supplement producers do not need to receive approval from any governing agency before distributing their products into the market! Supplement companies have complete authority in what is considered harmful or dangerous.

Although the DSHEA authorizes supplement companies freedom in determining the safety of the products, the FDA ultimately holds authority in taking action if products possess risks of hazards to the health of consumers. The problem with this is that any intervention can only be made after the fact, where products are already available to consumers - when it’s much too late. An example of this circumstance includes a study published by JAMA Network Open. Scientist analyzed nearly 800 supplements, concluding that about 80% of the supplements examined contained one unapproved pharmaceutical ingredient, and 20% contained even more than one. Another example took place in 2008 when more than 200 people were poisoned by selenium after taking a liquid multivitamin supplement by Total Body Essential Nutrition. The products, called Total Body Formula and Total Body Mega Formula, contained an average of 40,800 mcg of selenium per serving, 200x more than what was on the label.

This ‘innocent until proven guilty’ way of thinking should not be the basis of how the US institutes regulations of potentially harmful substances. Not only is it dangerous for our health, but it leaves us inevitably in the dark as a consumer. Consumers are hidden from science-based information about substances used in dietary supplements, from agencies that are meant to protect our health. Peter A Lipson, a practicing internist and teaching physician in Southeast Michigan, puts this contention best:

“DSHEA was created specifically to allow these companies to make legal claims that would otherwise be a questionable legality. DSHEA, as it was written and as it was intended, facilitates the legal marketing of quackery.”

Our Shocking Findings

To put some of this regulation information we know about the supplement industry to test, we conducted some lab testing ourselves. We sent 6 different samples from popular brands of turmeric supplements that claim to reduce pain caused by inflammation, digestive issues, and treat hormonal imbalances. The products we tested included higher-priced health store brands as well as more ordinary, lower-priced drugstore brands. To our surprise we found not 1, but 4 toxic heavy metals in one of the drugstore brands analyzed: Arsenic at 0.766mg/kg, Cadmium at 0.792mg/kg, Mercury 0.013mg/kg, and Lead at a whopping 2.02mg/kg. This makes some of these contaminants nearly 200x higher compared to our best results in our tests. The two products that came back with the cleanest results are Z!nt Turmeric Powder and Nordic Naturals Curcumin Gummies. To view all the details of our evaluations on turmeric supplements, view our results in the Testsharing app!

There is currently no legal FDA approved limit determined for supplements, leaving consumers in limbo in evaluating the risks of contaminant levels. Utilizing reliable research available and the Tolerable Daily Intake (determined by the European Food Safety Authority) is how we are left to measure the value of concern for consumers. Even though the heavy metals detected in the lower-priced drugstore supplement are extremely high compared to the other products tested, the measurements deem as “insignificant” according to the current regulations and claim to not pose any risk of acute poisoning. We are aware that the test results we receive refer to particular samples, and don’t represent the whole batch or other products that the particular brand produces. However, supplements are meant to take daily, sometimes multiple times a day. These results are a clear indication that the regulation laws set are not protecting us from heavy metal exposure through products claiming to enhance our health! Toxins like heavy metals build up in our bodies over time, storing in fatty tissues. When our bodies use the stored fat for energy, the chemicals are released into our bloodstream, causing adverse health effects. Toxins are found in our food and water from pesticide residues and the industrial system, cumulateing in our tissues as well. The bioaccumulation of toxins from multiple sources chemically burdan the body's processing systems and puts our health at risk.

Enhance Your Health by Making Informed Choices

Supplements are marketed to enhance our current health, and bring an abundance of added nutrients that our bodies are lacking. Not only are consumers under the impression that supplements supply our bodies with additional vitamins and minerals, but they can reverse certain health disadvantages. Various possible health problems are caused by malabsorption, genetics, medical issues or certain diseases/disorders. At such high contamination rates as seen in our findings, supplements can actually be directly harming our current health due to the extremely unregulated industry. Sourcing supplements from manufacturers that hold high standards in quality, and have exemplified commitment to sustainability and clean ingredients can protect your health. The golden rule: The least ingredients the better! Make it easy on yourself, and get your supplements tested for harmful chemicals - the results may surprise you.

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