- Antibiotic Resistance
- Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute
- What is the Best Beta Glucan?
- Monoclonal (mAbs) Antibodies
- Dietary Supplement Sources
- What is a Dose
- Electricity and the Immune System
- The Effect of Electromagnetic Fields
- Biological Products And Disease Prevention
- Aging and the Immune System
- Immune Support and Travel
- Hematopoiesis and Beta Glucan
- Immunosenescence; Age-associated Immune Deficiency
- Innate Immunity and Beta 1,3-D Glucan
- The Lymphatic System
- Multiple Myeloma
- Beta 1,3-D Glucan Accepted for Inclusion in U.S. Screening Program
- Some More Susceptible to Staph Infections
- Uptake Mechanism of Beta Glucan
- The War Against Cancer-Can Beta Glucan Serve a Role?
- Weight Loss
- What is Beta Glucan?
Dietary Supplement Sources
Responsibility for the advancement of medical nutrition, and to the supplement consumer, rests solely with the supplement manufacturer. Since the FDA is only gradually working toward regulation of the supplement industry what can we as consumers do to select supplements that will work?
Companies like General Nutrition Products (GNC) that have the consumers attention yet have been subject to over twenty regulatory actions by the FDA continue to lead the industry with questionable products. As a medical nutritionist the presence of so few credible manufacturers is the major stumbling block to my work in helping people. It's not that these products don't work, it's that it is difficult to educate consumers about the pitfalls in selection of products that do. There are so many supplements on the market that are of very low quality, and even some that do not contain what the label says they contain. I spend a large portion of my time searching and policing the industry for quality products because there can be no practice of medical nutrition without products that work. What I recommend for consumers who do not have access to a scientist such as myself is the following:
Thoroughly research the manufacturer, their history, and current practices, to determine if they are a dietary supplement manufacturer who insists on quality and purity in their products. Then call the 1-800 numbers given on labels and ask some questions you will quickly learn to recognize the companies who are in business solely for the money. Ask for two things first:
1. Certificates of Analysis and Lot Numbers.
Certificates of analysis are laboratory assays performed for dietary supplement manufacturers that attest to the purity and active ingredients in the supplement. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if a manufacturer of dietary supplements can supply a Certificate of Analysis, this often demonstrates their intent to sell only quality supplements. Certainly, there is abuse in this arena as well, since scientists can be bought and Certificates can be falsified.
(As a scientist I might ask for the scientific method used to determine the potency and purity of any manufacturer's supplement to see if the results can be duplicated in another laboratory.) Often if a manufacturer lists a Lot Number and Expiration Date on the product, this is an indication of quality control procedures, but again, it is not a guarantee of the purity of the dietary supplement
How do you know if the laboratory doing the testing is credible? Unfortunately, without a scientific background, this is not easily determined. You can ask your supplier, store or company owner, to conduct this type of research for you. I encourage you to ask more questions and insist that the manufacturer of your supplements take responsibility for your hard earned dollars to ensure that they are being wisely spent on a quality supplement that is what the label says it is.
2. Published Peer Reviewed Research.
This type of research is conducted by independent agents and is published in scientific journals only after a very critical screening process. These are not press releases which anyone can submit without review. Be aware that even universities and medical doctors have been known to promote press releases as if they were reviewed scientific research publications.
On a practical level, I know this can be confusing and not easily determined by the average consumer. I suggest you only purchase supplements from companies that you have been referred to by a credible source. Again determining what is a credible refering source can be difficult. Look for these things: 1) credentials - does the person referring you have a degree in the required area. Just because Ph.D. or MD follow a name doesn't necessarily mean that the person has expertise in nutrition, do not assume that medical doctor do, 2) conflicts of interest - for example does the doctor or other professional sell the product being recommended, if so be aware that sale of the product becomes a conflict of interest.
For example out of 22 commercial brands of DHEA, only two products tested had any biologically active DHEA in their formulas. "Let the buyer beware" is a necessity in purchasing dietary supplements. Profits and greed are prevalent in the natural foods industry as well as in the pharmaceutical industry. It is my goal to develop a standardized biological assay that will help to ensure that consumers are buying safe and effective immune enhancing dietary supplements.