The Problem with Supplements

Do you know that more than half of the US adult population take supplements? If you’re one of these multivitamin pill-popping adults, then you might want to take a second look…

What do Walmart, Walgreens, Target, and GNC have in common?

Supplements being sold in these four giant retailers don’t contain what they say they do. Instead, they contained things like ground-up rice and houseplants. Yeah.

Imagine yourself entering Walmart. You need to buy a new bottle of those multivitamins that you’ve been taking. But you recently read about the wonderful benefits of Gingko Biloba and decided you wanted to purchase supplements with it. You happen to chance upon a brand called Spring Valley Vitamins and got excited when you saw a bottle with Gingko Biloba sprawled all across the label. You decide to spend some of your hard-earned money on it, so you grab it and ran for the nearest checkout counter.

You take the supplement as soon as you get home, then religiously every single day. But nothing is happening. You don’t feel the effects. You still suffer from forgetfulness… and you even forgot you needed to buy other things from Walmart, but your excitement for Gingko Biloba got to you.

What they found out

Here is a table summarizing the supplements and what they claimed they had but they didn’t:

Brand Gingko Biloba:  St. John’s Wort  Ginseng Echinacea Saw Palmetto
GNC, Herbal Plus No gingko biloba found. Did detect allium (garlic), rice, spruce and asparagus. No St. John’s Wort found. Did detect allium (garlic), rice and dracaena (a tropical houseplant). No ginseng found. Did detect rice, dracaena, pine, wheat/grass and citrus. No echinacea found. Detected rice in some samples. Samples contained a variety of ingredients, including asparagus, rice and primrose.
Target, Up & Up brand  No gingko biloba found. Found garlic, rice and mung/French bean. No St. John’s Wort found. Found garlic, rice and dracaena (houseplant). No ginseng found. Some tests detected Echinacea. One test identified only rice. Most tests detected saw palmetto. Some tests found no plant DNA.
Walgreens, Finest Nutrition brand  No gingko biloba found. Did detect rice. No St. John’s Wort found. Detected garlic, rice and dracaena. No ginseng found. Detected garlic and rice. No echinacea found. Identified garlic, rice and daisy. Contained saw palmetto.
Walmart, Spring Valley brand  No gingko biloba found. Found rice, dracaena, mustard, wheat and radish. No St. John’s Wort found. Detected garlic, rice and cassava. No ginseng found. Found rice, dracaena, pine, wheat/grass and citrus. No echinacea or plant material found.  Some samples contained small amounts of saw palmetto. Also found garlic and rice.

Not all supplements are the same though. These are just what the New York authorities have discovered based on one test that they did. Watch this video and learn more:

3rd Party Testing to the Rescue!

ConsumerLab has tested nearly 6,000 supplements since 1999 and found that about 20% of the supplements that they test are not properly made — containing too little or too much of a listed ingredient, are contaminated (such as with lead, cadmium, or arsenic), or are pills that will not properly break apart to release all of their ingredients.

The frequency of problems varies and depends on the type of supplement, with multivitamins and herbal supplements having the most problems, while simple, single-ingredient supplements are least likely to be problematic. Gummies also tend to have more issues than pills and capsules.

In addition, even products that contain what they claim may be inappropriate to use, having been designed to provide too little or too much of an ingredient. And, of course, many supplements won’t do you any good simply because they may not be effective the condition for which they are being used.

I recommend that you sign up for the ConsumerLab newsletter and subscribe (it’s well worth it, and will save you from taking potentially harmful supplements, and help you get the most potent bang-for-your-buck) so you can learn about which supplements will help versus hurt you.

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