Often it is cheaper to find a supplement and then go search out a better deal online. Why not? It’s human nature not to overpay. However, for the minute amount of money you save there is enough evidence to prove it isn’t worth risking your health when making that decision.
Gary Collins, a former FDA special agent and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services worked behind the curtain of the supplement industry. Often witnessing what you are going to learn about first hand.
The unfortunate side is there are many money-hungry businesses that often undercut the price of legitimate supplement companies with dangerous counterfeit, improperly stored or expired products. Of course, these companies have no morals and only focus on making money, not helping you feel better.
When we see products in our office that come from these online sources, I feel bad for the consumer. Many products lack the active agent to make them work. Legally, they can be sold. For instance, I can send you a leaf from an herbal, but all the research was done on 10-year-old roots. As you can see, it’s not the same nor does it have the same effect. Most items with oils fall into the same category. Oils require an antioxidant so they don’t oxidize and become rancid when opening. Very few products follow these researched rules.
Gary Collins explains that most Americans want to be healthy but don’t necessarily want to burden the extra expense and choose to go cheaper rather than research the product or company. Little do they know that bargain vitamins are worthless at best, and even more disheartening is it may cost them, and their family, their health and sometimes their lives. There are three main ways supplements end up on the market and in your home at cheap prices:
- They are counterfeit and probably dangerous
- They are expired and repackaged and new – most likely useless
- They are stolen from a legitimate business or doctor’s office and sold without any quality control
One of the easiest ways to make a dishonest dollar is to create a supplement mirroring a name-brand health supplement. Scammers create lookalike packaging and they can sell worthless sugar pills for a discounted price. According to Gary Collins, “People would be appalled if they knew how prevalent counterfeit dietary supplements truly are.” These “counterfeit” pills are on many name-brand department store shelves and certainly available on the internet. He goes on to state, “If a supplement or pharmaceutical is becoming popular, you can bet someone in China, India or other unregulated countries that are making counterfeits.”
Criminals can make a quick buck by purchasing expired products for pennies on the dollar, change the dates on the labels, and sell them as new. Legitimate companies often have fire sales for products about to expire, this is great for business when you can purchase for cheap. Often, when someone complains they send them a genuine product to replace for the expired one.
Thieves can break into a warehouse, doctor’s office or store and steal the products, distribute them to other criminal enterprises and online they go. Of course, they aren’t stored properly. But you get a great deal on a product right? Not exactly. They’re criminals and expired, new, refurbished and stolen supplements all go into the same bucket and made ready to sell to you, an unknowing consumer.
Here’s the bottom line—supplement companies, online or in advertising, cannot make drug claims for dietary supplements. Those that do are subject to being regulated as a drug and thus require a prescription. Second, even if the supplement provides vitamin C, which has been well documented to stop and prevent diseases such as scurvy, supplements do not treat or eliminate disease, only a drug does (from FD&C Act, sec.201(g)(1)). So, if a weight loss product stops obesity – buyer beware because the manufacturer is claiming to stop a disease other than intended, as weight loss is not a disease. Good companies following good manufacturing practices (GMP) are well aware of the language and the best methods to utilize their products in order for you to be safe. They also have cGMP stamped on their bottles and don’t use fillers or other additives to complete their formulations. That said, one can have cGMP and still add MSG, gluten, sugar, and other excitatory toxins and pass the test so read your labels.
How to keep your family and you safe when purchasing supplements
Buy from the doctor’s office directly. Licensed doctors must have accounts and are screened before opening an account. Furthermore, they are instructed on how to handle and dose products and what the pricing will be as part of their agreement with any supplement manufacturer.
1. Don’t have a doctor? Then buy directly from the manufacturer.
2. Evaluate the supplement company. Does it have a phone number, is the website U.S. based? If it’s cheap, avoid it. No reputable company uses “cheap” products instead of high-quality ingredients. It’s impossible to make high-end products from cheap materials and supplements are no different.
To meet label claims, manufacturers place an increased amount of product into bottles to assure it will have the labeled effective dosage at expiration. To maximize your product's potential and save your valuable dollars, I’ve compiled a list of actions to perform.
Your supplements have a shelf life. Going beyond that expiration date could be harmful and not beneficial. Most supplements, vitamins, and medication are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meaning by law MUST have the dosage at the expiration date when that day arrives.
1. To prevent untimely degradation of your product, immediately remove any cotton found in the bottle after opening. Cotton acts as a wick and attracts moisture, decreasing the life of your product.
2. Your products were manufactured in a cool, dry area. The bathroom has a shower, and a refrigerator has high humidity. Both should be avoided. Immediately place the cap back on your bottle and tighten. Oxygen reacts with many products causing oxidation. This reaction causes a conformational change on a molecular scale and could render your products less effective if not completely useless.
3. Throw away products on the expiration date. Each company has performed tests to discover when the product has oxidized or degraded to the point it is no longer effective as written on the label.
4. Keep your products away from microwaves, televisions, and other electronics emitting radiation. This also includes traveling on a plane. It is best to avoid traveling with products. If possible, purchase a new product upon arrival for a longer stay, but this is nearly impossible for short trips. Therefore, attempt to pack the necessary dosages for a day or two in your travel bag being scanned by airport security. Place the remainder of your products in your checked luggage.
Yours in health,