The Dangers of Discount Store Supplements

“If you purchase supplements from your discount store, consumer reports show it’s likely you are not getting what you pay for.”

My friend who is a nutritionist and clinician for over thirty years and I have worked with thousands of patients; and we are continually asked “Why can’t I buy supplements from my discount store? Do I have to get them from my clinician?” Of course who wouldn’t ask? Hey, we all want to save money. So in answering, let me start by saying “all supplements are not created equal.” I’m not exaggerating at all when I say, if you purchase supplements from your discount store, consumer reports show it’s likely you are not getting what you pay for.

After years of practice I’ve come to the conclusion that any patient, but especially those with a health crisis, should get their nutrients from a reputable source. A knowledgeable, trained and researched clinician is a reputable source. Consumer reports like the one I am about to share will help you understand why it’s a no brainer.

This report comes from in their November 9, 2010 posting. This is a subscription service that sends watchdog information about supplements. They reveal individual company names, but let’s step back and get the widescreen view. They analyzed 10 different forms of valerian root and found only 3 met label claims.

Herbal remedies have many properties or chemical components that have health benefits. However there is usually one group of compounds that has been given credit for its effectiveness. “Valerenic Acids” have been given credit for the “anti-anxiety” effects of valerian root. So ConsumerLab used valerenic acid and related compounds as the set of chemical markers to determine potency. They also looked for the heavy metals lead and cadmium. Here’s what they found. 5 of the 10 tested did not meet label claims. They had levels of 0%, yes 0%; 26.7%; 36.8%; 57.1% and 82.5 % of what the label claimed. Three of the 10 products had measurable amounts of lead. In this investigation they did not find cadmium. However prior testing by has found the heavy metals lead and cadmium in valerian supplements.

Cadmium is a carcinogen and a kidney toxin. Lead can impair mental functioning and may affect blood pressure. The amounts of cadmium and lead in supplements tend to be small when present and will “unlikely” cause toxicity. But heavy metals “accumulate in our system over time.” The effects of heavy metal build up can be an underlying factor in many health problems. But here’s the point: heavy metals are a common problem but few manufacturers are looking for them.

Let’s look at another area of testing, solvents. Right now there is a worldwide shortage of curcumin due to all the positive health benefits. Food manufactures are starting to put curcumin in designer foods to give them a little extra sizzle. A reputable manufacturer of supplements called Biotics Research Corporation has used two suppliers in the past, but demand has forced them to look for other suppliers. Biotics found a supplier who provided curcumin that was free of heavy metals but when they checked it for solvents found out that it contained a carcinogenic chemical that was nearly 30 times the allowed limit, 30 times.

If manufactures are not checking for heavy metals which are relatively easy to spot, do you think they are checking for solvents? Dr. Godo will know and carry supplements that are safe. He knows which supplements meet label claims so you won’t waste your money on products that are compromised or that don’t work. What’s the point of trying to save money if the tablet won’t dissolve or if the nutrient that’s listed on the label isn’t there at full potency?

I said earlier “All supplements are not created equal.” It really is worth it to invest a little more and get the right supplements. Ultimately the person that’s going to benefit the most is you.