The question of safe dietary supplements is always in the news. Consumers (rightly so) want to make sure the supplements they take are safe and effective.
A recent Council for Responsible Nutrition survey found that over two-thirds of Americans take dietary supplements every day. The survey also found that 84% of Americans are confident in the safety, quality, and effectiveness of their dietary supplements.
In an industry with a controversial past, trust, transparency, and traceability are at the heart of consumer confidence in dietary supplements.
The question we always get is: are dietary supplements safe?
The answer may not be as clear-cut as you would think. Here’s a little history for context.
For many years, the dietary supplement industry was the Wild West, with little oversight from regulators. In 1994, Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) which loosely regulated dietary supplements as products that are “intended to supplement the diet.”
DSHEA, however, does not require dietary supplement manufacturers to prove that their supplements contain what is on the label, are effective, or even safe.
To control the quality of dietary supplements, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began requiring that all manufacturers follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) by 2010. The GMPs established manufacturing requirements to make sure supplements are safe to consume.
The principle behind the GMPs is to build quality into the manufacturing process. While all companies are now required to follow GMPs, many still do not.
The FDA has limited ability to make sure companies are compliant with the GMPs. In some ways, purchasing dietary supplements can still be a “buyer beware” scenario.
Why do dietary supplements often get a bad rap?
The September 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine included a supplement safety guide. The issue highlighted dangerous ingredients and types of supplements to avoid. Ingredients advertised for weight loss, sexual performance and bodybuilding may be dangerous.
There is often little scientific evidence to back up these ingredients. And some can potentially cause drug interactions and harmful side effects.
Consumer Reports also recommends avoiding proprietary blends. A proprietary blend is a secret recipe of ingredients in a product. When a manufacturer uses a proprietary blend, they must list the ingredients in order from highest to lowest content, but they do not have to reveal the amount of each ingredient.
Blends may contain dangerously high amounts of certain ingredients. In other cases, they may not provide enough of a particular ingredient to be beneficial.
So where does this leave you, the consumer? The good news is that there are ways to make sure you are buying products that are not only safe but also effective.
Follow these three rules to choose safe and effective dietary supplements:
1. Choose a brand that you can TRUST.
There are third-party testing and certification agencies like USP and NSF International who work with companies to certify that products contain what they say they do and that they are free from contaminants.
Testing and certification can help you to feel more confident in the safety of your supplements.
Since its founding in 2003, Theralogix has participated in the NSF Dietary Supplements Certification Program. Not only does NSF test and certify Theralogix supplements, but it also conducts GMP audits of our manufacturing plant twice a year.
Participation in the NSF program also guarantees that only highest-quality ingredients from NSF-approved suppliers go into your supplements.
We strive to make the most effective products for our customers, so Theralogix supplements are always based on scientific evidence. Our Medical Advisory Board has approved each supplement’s formulation after an extensive, detailed review of the most current scientific research.
The Board oversees our products to ensure they all contain safe ingredients within the recommended doses. Theralogix re-evaluates formulations as new research comes out.
Theralogix only makes products using the best scientific evidence currently available.
2. Choose a brand that believes in TRANSPARENCY.
In a push to increase consumer trust, many dietary supplement manufacturers are beginning to shy away from using proprietary blends. Theralogix has never used proprietary blends in any of our formulas, and we never will.
We believe that customers have the right to know what’s in their supplements; we have nothing to hide.
For us, transparency means not only clear labels but also having honest, open conversations with customers about our products. Our Nutrition Department employs Registered Dietitians and public health practitioners who are available to answer questions about any of our products.
Have a question? Give us a call! We are here to talk to you. The Nutrition Department is open Monday-Friday 8 AM-5 PM, and if we’re not here, you can leave us a message, we’ll call you back.
3. Choose a brand that can TRACE ingredients back to the source.
Traceability is defined as the completeness of information available at every step of the supply chain. Whether it’s to keep raw material sources confidential from competitors or to hide a less-than-quality raw material from the consumer, supply chain traceability is often kept behind closed doors.
Lack of traceability can be a problem for herbal and botanical supplements.
Theralogix believes that all our products, particularly botanicals such as saw palmetto and cranberry, should be traceable back to the source. Beyond traditional supply-chain-management, we frequently visit our raw material suppliers in the field.
Several company executives were able to walk the fields with the hardworking farmers responsible for harvesting the crops. We learned about the saw palmetto growing and production processes first hand.
Our cranberry raw material is produced by a company called Naturex. They can integrate the supply chain from field to finished product. Like Theralogix, Naturex believes that traceability is the key to providing customers with quality products they can trust.
As a savvy shopper, you want to do everything you can to make sure you are buying safe, effective dietary supplements.
Choose a brand you can TRUST by purchasing products that have been third-party certified. Also, remember that products should be backed by good science and contain the recommended doses of ingredients.
Choose a brand that believes in TRANSPARENCY by providing their customers with clean labels and open doors.
Finally, choose a brand that puts TRACEABILITY at the heart of their supply chain management.