Some scary facts…
The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 27 supplements were being sold “online in the summer of 2013 that were among 274 recalled during 2009-2012” for having been contaminated with medications that ranged from Viagra to Prozac to a diet drug (Meridia) that has been recalled because it was found to increase risk of heart attacks. The Clevland Clinic reported that “most of these supplements being sold online were being sold in convenience stores, health food shops, and over the internet”.
How do you know your supplements are safe?
Well, it is easy to see from this incident that just going out to the store, even the health food store in many cases, does not guarantee the purity of a product. Even more scary is getting a supplement over the internet because with today’s technology anyone can be making and marketing an attractive supplement that looks good on the label, but does not contain anything near the actual product (think 3D camera- the latest technology that can be used for good or evil).
At Revive Wellness Center, one of the ways that we guarantee a product is safe is by only carrying in our dispensary and recommending products that come directly from companies we know and trust. These same companies that Revive uses has ex-FBI agents on their staff to monitor the internet for fradulent online sales of their products and for people selling their products in a bottle that looks just like the one you may have gotten at your Naturopaths office but doesn’t have the real product in it. Many of the companies that we recommend will give access only to physicians and mostly naturopathic physicians because they know that they will best be able to recommend and monitor individualization, patient safety, and efficacy for the products. Generally patients are given a referral code to be able to access the highest quality supplements available and individually recommended by their naturopathic physician.
The FDA regulates nutritional supplements in the same way that it regulates food, by finding out there is a problem after it occurs in most cases. The FDA follows the rules of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DHSEA) which was implemented in 1994 and revised in 2007 to require supplement companies to make products using good manufacturing processes and be true to their labeling. But, as you can see from what happened, depending on a federal agency to keep supplements true to their word is not enough. Many nutritional supplement companies that you find in your local grocery store, pharmacy, healthfood store, or online may not be up to the rigorous GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) standards set forth by the FDA. Furthermore, many of the companies recommended by your Naturopath go above and beyond the FDAs requirements for safety and efficacy standards required by the FDA.
Is your supplement effective?
In another report by Clevland Clinic the green coffee extract being touted as a “miracle” weight loss aid over the internet and formerly even featured by Dr. Oz, was found to have unsubstantiated claims on their research, which basically means, it doesn’t work. The efficacy of a supplement depends on the knowledge of the prescriber, dosage and compliance of the person taking it, and the quality of the product. Working with your naturopathic physician on your supplement plan will help you to save money on poor quality or fad supplements by finding what works best for you at that point in time.
Before you get too discouraged, there is a way to use nutritional supplements safely and effectively. Here are some rules you can go by to get a safe, effective, and individualized supplement:
1.) Do NOT buy supplements at a store or over the internet unless you Naturopathic Physician gives you a specific recommendation or referral code to order directly through a company.
2.) Do NOT buy supplements over the internet, especially Amazon, etc.- this point is important enough to repeat.
3.) READ THE LABELS, especially the Other ingredients where things can be found, such as, additives, food colorings, hydrogenated fats, sugar, that you don’t want in your supplements. P.S. Your ND has been trained in their 4 years of medical school to be able to identify the most active form of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and herbal medicines that should be included in your ideal supplement and what should not be in your supplement.
3.) Do NOT buy supplements based on a TV or internet ad, infomercial, article, or TV program alone. Talk to your naturopath about your supplements and to be safe, buy your supplements from your Naturopathic Physicians (ND) office or from a specific recommendation from them- why? Because what your ND is recommending is part of your personalized treatment plan and they know about drug-nutrient, nutrient-nutrient, nutrient-food potential interactions and is an expert in nutritional supplement. Even with all these rules, it is important to be monitored by your naturopath using blood work and subjective measures of your symptoms to see what the right plan is for you. The good news is that by getting your supplements from your naturopath’s office, you can rest assured that there will not be any outlawed drugs or unnatural ingredients in your bottle.