Less Than Half Of Supplement Labels Are Correct


From Ergo Log


Most supplements manufacturers are not entirely honest when it comes to their capsules, powders and tablets that contain plant-based extracts. Researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada come to this disturbing conclusion in BMC Medicine. The Canadians examined 41 different capsules, 2 powders and 1 tablet using DNA technology.


In supplements that according to the label are supposed to contain Acacia rigidula there is no Acacia rigidula. In supplements that are supposed to contain African Mango there is no African Mango. In the Acai Berry Select supplement there’s not a trace of Acai to be found. And so it goes on.


There have long been indications that not all supplements manufacturers are careful in their use of extracts. But just how big is the problem? To try and work this out the Canadians used DNA technology to analyse 44 products made by 12 different companies.


The Canadians started by looking at whether the most important plant-based extract that was supposed to be in the supplement was actually present. If they found DNA of the relevant plant in the product, then this was called an ‘authentic product’. The figure below shows that less than half of the tested supplements can actually claim to include the substance they say is in the product.



In 30 percent of the products they tested, the researchers found no DNA of the plant that according to the label was the most important component of the product, but they did find DNA of a plant that was not listed on the label [Substitution]. The researchers suggest that the manufacturers had replaced the active ingredient with another – probably cheaper – alternative.


Twenty percent of the tested supplements did actually contain DNA of the plant mentioned on the label as being the most important component in the supplement, but also contained DNA from plants not listed on the label [Contaminant].


Only forty percent of the supplements tested had a label that was completely accurate.


The quality of the supplements also varied from company to company, the Canadians discovered. There are really bad ones, very many mediocre ones, but also a few good ones.



The researchers don’t divulge exactly which products they tested and do not reveal any information about the manufacturers. And considering the researchers were partly funded by taxpayers’ money, that’s a shame.



Lipids Health Dis. 2012 Dec 3;11:165.

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