Everyone loves the idea of a product or pill providing quick results without any hard work.
As a result, the supplement industry has exploded over the past few years.
The supplement industry is one of the fastest growing industries, and it generates well over 30 billion in revenue in the US alone.
Just walk down any isle in your local supermarket and you’ll find rows and rows of bottles and boxes promoting better health and solutions for your problems.
However, since these shelves are usually located right next to the pharmacy, many consumers make one terrible mistake.
That mistake is assuming that both supplements and prescription drugs are developed, researched, and regulated in the same way and to the extent.
So, lets set the record straight once and for all.
It is absolutely true that both medications and supplements are under the guidance of the FDA, which stands for the Food and Drug Administration.
But, and this is a big but, because there is a huge difference in the FDA’s research requirements for drugs vs. supplements before they can be sold on the market.
I’ve worked as a Pharm D for a number of large pharmaceutical companies and the amount of time, money, and clinical testing that goes into getting a drug approved is almost unfathomable.
It can cost billions of dollars (that’s billions with a b) and over a decade worth of testing in labs, animals, and humans before a drug ever makes it to your local pharmacy.
Companies are required to perform studies that are know as randomized, double blind clinical trials, which are basically like the best of the best when it comes to clinical research in humans.
These studies are carefully monitored, differences between groups are accounted for, and people don’t know if they are or aren’t getting the medication to prevent inaccurate results.
Since these trials are carefully monitored and include thousands of people, we can feel confident that when a drug is shown to be safe and effective that it actually works and is reasonably safe.
But supplements are different because they don’t have to follow these requirements.
In fact, the FDA doesn’t even review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they hit the market.
Unless a product contains a new ingredient, there are no, as in zip, zilch, zero, FDA requirements to complete human clinical trials before you start selling a product.
This is also why you barely see any real science to support the use of supplements, as well as why it’s difficult to determine the true safety and effectiveness of these products.
Since companies aren’t require to perform clinical trials that cost millions of dollars, they have no incentive to spend that kind of money to prove their products are safe and effective in humans.
This means that while we will talk about any available research, most have limitations and can’t be used to draw firm conclusions.
It’s also why one study might find a supplement is beneficial, while the next shows there’s no benefit.
But before we go any further, lets recap what we just covered:
- The supplement industry is regulated very different from the pharmaceutical industry.
- Unless a supplement contains a new ingredient, the FDA doesn’t require companies to study their products before you, as a consumer, can buy and use them.
- Since there’s limited human clinical trials, you’re going to have to make conclusions about their safety and benefits based on limited research.
The next thing you need to know about the supplement industry is related to where and how the products are made, otherwise known as product manufacturing.
This one’s another biggie and I’ll tell you why.
The problem isn’t that supplement manufactures aren’t regulated, but that there are so many companies the FDA can’t possibly monitor and test them all.
Companies are supposed to follow good manufacturing practices (known as GMPs), but with thousands of companies and limited financial resources, it’s practically impossible for the government to inspect them all.
This also becomes an issue when it comes to product labeling, or what’s stated on the product’s package.
While the FDA may not be able to inspect every supplement, many companies have gotten into hot water for producing both misbranded and adulterated products.
An adulterated product is something that contains impurities, like bacteria or glass, and is usually due to unsanitary manufacturing conditions.
An adulterated supplement may also contain ingredients in amounts that are greater than or less than those listed on the label. For example, a company may label a product as 100% ginkgo boloba, but then mix in other less expensive ingredient to cut costs.
A misbranded product is a mislabeled product, and usually this is due to false claims about what that supplement can or can’t do.
An example of a misbranded product would be a product that claims to reset your hypothalamus gland so you don’t regain weight… which you simply can’t say because supplements aren’t studied to treat disease.
As you can see, tons of companies are getting slapped with FDA warning letters because they claim their products can treat, cure, or mitigate disease.
It’s scary because up until this point… you probably had no idea that there was such a huge difference in FDA regulation between drugs and supplements.
I mean after all they are both pills, they are both located in the same area of the store, and they both talk about being able to improve the same issues.
Fortunately, the FDA can take dietary supplements off the market if a serious problem arises.
They can remove supplements found to be unsafe or one’s with false or misleading claims, as well as products that are contaminated with potentially harmful ingredients.
This is exactly what’s happening more and more as agencies crack down on this issue.
As part of a nationwide plan, more than 100 makers and marketers of dietary supplements have been slapped with civil and criminal suits.
In most cases, the companies are accused of selling supplements that contain ingredients other than those listed on the product label or make treatment claims that aren’t supported by scientific evidence.
So yeah, this stuff really happens!
This is also why it’s not just the type of supplement that matters, but also who makes that product that determines if it’s safe and actually works.
Always use trusted companies with good track records when purchasing supplements and vitamins to ensure you’re actually getting what’s on the label.
One thing I love about 1st Phorm Supplements is that they are manufactured in an FDA inspected facility, and their facility is SQF Level 3 Certified. That’s the gold standard, highest level of quality control in the food manufacturing.
If any of their supplements fail to meet quality control standards, regardless of how small the difference, then the entire batch is disposed of to prevent it from ever reaching the customer.
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In addition to having to meet all FDA standards, every batch of 1st Phorm Product is sent to an independent lab to verify the contents of the container are exactly what it says on the label.
This is the kind of commitment to safety and quality you want to see from a supplement company, especially when it’s not even required by the FDA.
Remember, when it comes to your body and your health, you are worth the extra investment for quality ingredients.