How To Find Trustworthy Supplements Online
Amazon sells more supplements than the top 5 specialty vitamin sellers combined (77%), yet 64% of supplements reviews on Amazon have been reported as fake – providing many consumers with challengings in finding quality products.
What Are Fake Supplements?
“Fake supplements” often refer to mislabeled supplements. For example, 82% of bodybuilding supplements are mislabeled, as well as 69% of CBD products sold online. Additionally, 52% of herbal and dietary supplements are mislabeled, as well as 49% of single/multivitamins, and 44% of botanical supplements sold online.
Is This Legal?
Well, it’s complicated. 58% of Amazon’s sales are produced by third-party vendors, so Amazon holds little-to-no legal responsibility for the products they sell. Yet, Amazon is cracking down on third-party sellers who use their platform to sell fraudulent supplements.
Still, Amazon search algorithms have been found to promote suspicious supplements. For example, Amazon’s Choice badges were found given to supplements with mostly fake or misleading reviews, as well as listings that don’t include FDA-required labels.
What Does The FDA Require?
For example, the FDA can approve new ingredients for safety, such as color additives, or prevent supplements from claiming they treat, cure, or prevent diseases.
On the other hand, the FDA does not evaluate supplements for generation health claims, prevention, or treatment, nor do they test supplements for purity or dose accuracy (unless there is a public health crisis).
Additionally, the FDA does not require supplement labels to list potential drug interactions or contraindications – particularly shocking as one study found nearly 1 in 3 people who take prescription medication(s) in combination with herbal or dietary supplements are at risk for adverse drug interactions.
How Else Can You Stay Safe?
Another way you can help yourself is to keep an eye peeled for quality. For example, try and avoid gummy vitamins at all costs. Gummy vitamins often fail testing due to their inconsistent forumation and less shelf-stability.
Additionally, check for third-party testing. Generally speaking, all supplement sellers should provide a certificate of analysis (CoA) on their website. With that, you’ll also want to consider brands verified by USP or NSF. Only supplements bearing the seal icon, not just the organization’s acronym, should be trusted.
Furthermore, watch out for any red flags you notice along your shopping or checkout experience. Always be cautious when making a supplement purchase (especially if you shop on Amazon).
Here are a few tips:
- Watch out for resellers who don’t specialize in supplements or health products
- Beware of vague product guarantees that don’t promise a specific outcome
- Check the manufacturer’s website to ensure Amazon is an authorized seller
- Avoid slow shipping that may allow a seller to be paid before the product arrives
- Search for a company website to ensure its presence beyond Amazon
Are Fake Supplements Dangerous?
In 2018, Poison Control reported 5,486 incidents involving vitamins, dietary or herbal supplements, or homeopathic medication. Furthermore, mislabeled supplements can be dangerous as they can contain far higher doses of their active ingredients, lack at least one active or inactive ingredient, and even include unlisted ingredients like pharmaceuticals.
Some supplements can be harmful or interfere with other medications. So, it’s always smart to consult with your doctor before ingesting any new medication or supplement.
Supplements are supposed to make us feel better, but achieving that can be tiresome if quality supplements can’t be found to begin with. Don’t rely on health claims on the product labels and online listings to pick your supplements – learn to do it yourself. Do you have any tips for supplement shopping?
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