3 Ways To Avoid Supplement Labels That Lie

New York is playing hardball with retailers selling ginko bilboa, St. John’s wort, ginseng, and echinacea with supplement labels that lie. Here are three ways to avoid being a sucker.

3 Ways To Avoid Supplement Labels That Lie

IF YOU haven’t heard, New York State attorney general’s office has asked GNC, Target, Walmart and Walgreens to stop selling herbal supplements after tests discovered that they did not actually contain the herbs listed on their labels and, in some cases, contained fillers and unidentified herbs.

These products have supplement labels that lie, and thereby transgress consumer protection laws.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said that five separate DNA tests were run on supplements claiming to contain ginko bilboa, St. John’s wort, ginseng, and echinacea. Shockingly, in four out of five cases, the tests showed that the capsules and tablets contained nothing more than fillers such as asparagus, rice, wheat or houseplants.

The accused retailers reacted differently. Walgreens immediately agreed to the attorney general’s request to pull the supplements off their shelves. Walmart said it would reach out to its suppliers and take appropriate action. GNC told the New York Times that the company would cooperate with the attorney general, but stood behind the quality and purity of its store brand supplements.

By now, you must be wondering what’s in — or not in — the supplements hanging out in your cabinets. Although you can’t know for sure, there are three things you can do to improve the odds that your supplements contain what’s on the label.


1. Buy quality, not price

Typically, there’s a reason cheap supplements are cheap. The four retailers getting spanked by New York most likely outsource the making of the supplements they sell to cheap, high-volume producers. Obviously, the quality control is non-existent.

As a consumer, the easiest thing you can do to improve your chances of buying high quality supplements is to choose those made by companies with sterling reputations. Buy from companies that strive to use ingredients that are as close to whole foods or herbs as possible.  Three to consider are New Chapter, MegaFood and Dr. Shulze’s herbal formulations.


2. Ensure that the ingredients work

There’s lots of conflicting information, and even scientific studies, about the benefits of particular ingridents in supplments. How can you know who, or what information, to trust?

I believe in Examine.com‘s work.

They’re devoted to studying all the literature and then reporting the conclusions in easily digestible format. The following review on Stinging Nettle is just a small sample of Examine’s entire report on the plant.


Stinging Nettles Examine.com

Stinging Nettles Examine.com review

I personally know one of the co-founder’s of Examine because I sought him out after being impressed with their work.  That lead to me promoting their Supplement Guide. It goes deep into the analysis of what supplements do what, and can save you a boat load of money by keeping you from spending money on stuff that does not work.

Examine Supplement-Goals Reference Guide 5

(yep, pretty promotional)


3. Find out if you need it

Yeah, the company that makes the stuff might be beyond reproach, and the active ingredients work as advertised, but do you need it?

Without getting yourself tested, it’s guess work, which isn’t a big bad thing.  If the company is reputable, and the ingredients perform as advertised, what’s mostly at risk is a relatively modest sum of money.  So, for instance, if like many men over forty, you (or the man you love) has low testosterone, he could try Mike Mahler’s Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster (aff link). I’ve used it, and can unreservedly say works for me and many others, judging by the testimonials.

However, being tired and stressed might not have to do with low testosterone.  How do you know yours is low?  Low energy and stress could be related to chronically high cortisol production, low functioning adrenals and/or hypothyroidism.

Go get a blood test, or saliva or urine — whatever makes sense for what you’re testing.  If you’re new to this, check out my post about blood tests.

Over and out.

Last Updated on June 14, 2023 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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