Dr. Bray Links

Friday, February 6, 2015

New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers - NYTimes.com


Supplement Quality Statement

Given the recent news about poor quality supplements found in many large retail stores, I wanted to comment on this situation. We live in a society where businesses reign supreme and often either set the rules or bend the rules to allow themselves to succeed financially. In many countries of the world, chemicals are deemed as unfit for human consumption or external use until proven safe. In our country, chemicals are assumed safe until proven unsafe (which is often extraordinarily difficult to do due to regulatory roadblocks). Also, our supplement manufacturers are not required to meet stringent independent quality control checks like in other countries (Commission E in Germany for example). Many do so voluntarily, which I strongly support.

As a consumer, we must assume that anything we buy has potential harm and only purchase trusted products and brands. Sometimes, this means researching companies, manufacturing practices, and product quality ourselves. Otherwise, this means relying on trusted third-party certification to research and test products for us. We must be careful consumers when it comes to supplements – especially herbal products. I have found that when patients buy unspecified vitamin D, fish oil, or other vitamins/mineral/herbs – they many times do not have the expected benefits. Upon questioning, they chose an untrusted (but less expensive) brand or incorrect doses or even the incorrect supplement altogether. Supplements should be treated like prescriptions. They should be exact brands, doses, composition, and taken as specified by your practitioner. It takes an expert integrative medicine physician to guide you with these.

I use groups like ConsumerLab.com who investigate the quality and accuracy of the supplements that I recommend. I also like to see supplement manufactures that use third party certification agencies to verify that their products are free of contaminants like heavy metals (which is a big problem with herbal supplements from China and India as well as rice from the US which often has arsenic).

My universal rule is that organic and raw food sources are usually superior to supplemental forms of nutrition. When supplements are needed, I have found New Chapter, Kind Organics, Integrative Therapeutics, Xymogen, Thorne Research, Metagenics, Jarrow, Solgar, Gaia, Douglas Labs, Pure Encapsulations, Nordic Naturals, Carlson, and doTERRA to be trustworthy. Stores in Gainesville include Wards, Earth Origins, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Sunflower Health Foods, and Lucky’s. Swanson online is a decent online source for some of these brands.

-CB

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The authorities said they had conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers — GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — and found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/?_r=0

From GNC, Herbal Plus brand:

Gingko Biloba
No gingko biloba found. Did detect allium (garlic), rice, spruce and asparagus

St. John’s Wort
No St. John’s Wort found. Did detect allium (garlic), rice and dracaena (a tropical houseplant)

Ginseng
No ginseng found. Did detect rice, dracaena, pine, wheat/grass and citrus

Garlic
Contained garlic

Echinacea
No echinacea found. Did detect rice in some samples

Saw Palmetto
One sample contained the clear presence of palmetto. Other samples contained a variety of ingredients, including asparagus, rice and primrose

From Target, Up & Up brand

Gingko Biloba
No gingko biloba found. Found garlic, rice and mung/French bean

St. John’s Wort
No St. John’s Wort found. Found garlic, rice and dracaena (houseplant)

Garlic
Contained garlic. One test identified no DNA

Echinacea
Most but not all tests detected Echinacea. One test identified rice

Saw Palmetto
Most tests detected saw palmetto. Some tests found no plant DNA

Valerian Root
No valerian root found. Found allium, bean, asparagus, pea family, rice, wild carrot and saw palmetto

From Walgreens, Finest Nutrition brand

Gingko Biloba
No gingko biloba found. Did detect rice

St. John’s Wort
No St. John’s Wort found. Detected garlic, rice and dracaena

Ginseng
No ginseng found. Detected garlic and rice

Garlic
No garlic found. Detected palm, dracaena, wheat and rice

Echinacea
No echinacea found. Identified garlic, rice and daisy

Saw Palmetto
Contained saw palmetto

From Walmart, Spring Valley brand

Gingko Biloba
No gingko biloba found. Found rice, dracaena, mustard, wheat and radish

St. John’s Wort
No St. John’s Wort found. Detected garlic, rice and cassava

Ginseng
No ginseng found. Found rice, dracaena, pine, wheat/grass and citrus

Garlic
One sample showed small amounts of garlic. Found rice, pine, palm, dracaena and wheat

Echinacea
No echinacea or plant material found

Saw Palmetto
Some samples contained small amounts of saw palmetto. Also found garlic and rice

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/sidebar-whats-in-those-supplements/?_r=0

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