Supplement Safety

Supplements are a huge business, 26 Billion dollars a year – their advertisements have shaped the way a generation thinks. They are completely legal but can be very dangerous because they are not regulated and don’t require any testing at all. I’ve been saying this for years and finally I have solid backup from the most respected non-profit consumer advocate groups in existence, Consumer Reports -please read the September 10 2010 issue. Here are the two most important quotes from their article:

  • “Because of inadequate quality control and inspection, supplements contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides or prescription drugs have been sold to unsuspecting consumers”
  • “China, which has repeatedly been caught exporting contaminated products, is a major supplier of raw supplement ingredients”.
My anti-supplement stance is not because I don’t think there are some effective ones but because of safety concerns. Not even simple toxicity tests are required on supplements. I could legally mix aspirin, caffeine tablets, and garden dirt in my lead bathtub and sell my supplement as “megalift muscle builder 1000”. So, what can you do to protect yourself? Be an informed consumer! First and most importantly, only buy supplements with the USP Verified mark. USP Verified is a trusted, non-profit, independent testing organization that verifies the quality, purity and potency of the product. USP verified

Most people decide what supplements to take based on what they hear in the locker room, this is stupid! Don’t waste your money and risk potential health problems for something that wont help you anyway. Learn all you can about supplements from an unbiased source free of hype, this saves you from wasting money on stuff that wont help you anyway. I can highly recommend Bodybuilding Revealed by Will Brink he reviews all the supplements without getting trapped by brand name hype. For each supplement he lists what it is, what the research says about it, and what real-life users experience. Since supplements are unregulated, “truth in advertising” doesn’t exist and wild ridiculous claims are everywhere – this book will help you be an informed consumer.

Let me share with you my own personal experience with supplements. After years of not using any supplement other than protein powder, I decided to see what the buzz about the new creatine nitric-oxide product was about – lots of people seem to swear by it. I decided to give in and try it for a month, how harmful could a creatine product be? Well, it cost me $650 in medical bills to find out. After three weeks of using it I had a routine physical and full blood test which discovered that my liver function was 10X normal meaning that my liver was working overtime cleaning some toxic crap out of my body. After a liver ultrasound and several other expensive tests later, the only possible cause remaining was the creatine product. Although I didn’t go to the expense of having the product itself tested for toxic impurities, I’m convinced they are there. Anyway, shame on my for not listening to my own advice!

Think your supplements are safe because they are from a big reputable company? Think again! Check out this press release (read whole article):

May 1, 2009 — Fourteen Hydroxycut products, marketed as fat burners, low-cost diet aids, and energy enhancers, are being recalled voluntarily by the manufacturer after the FDA received 23 reports of serious liver injuries ranging from jaundice to death.

And that is from one of the most respected companies selling their most popular product! They never confessed what the problem was or how it happened but my guess is that because of lax manufacturing processes coupled with nonexistent batch testing, some heavy metals slipped into a batch and went un-noticed. If a highly profitable and well run company like that can sell toxic supplements, what do you think that all those products from no-name companies who advertise in the back of the muscle mags have in them???

See my whole article on supplements and steroids here.