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Taking the guesswork out of choosing quality supplements!

bioavailability supplements

supplements on a light blue background

Topics we will address in this post:

  • What kind of criteria we use to determine which products and brands we stock.
  • Safety concerns surrounding purchasing supplements off of Amazon.
  • What about drug store or retail brand supplements? Are they okay?

The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate, test, or approve nutritional supplements like they do with prescription medications, so there is an enormous variance in the quality and efficacy of supplements on the market.

It is a big and expanding industry. Because of the lack of FDA oversight, many supplement companies you'll find on store shelves use dishonest practices that could waste a lot of your money at best and put your health and safety at risk at worst.

So what can you do to make sure you are taking supplements that are going to provide substantial health benefits, rather than ones labeled as Ginkgo biloba but filled with house plants (true story!)?

The supplements that we have chosen to offer at the Rothfeld Center have been selected based on our research into their quality and because they have undergone third-party testing.

Though there is no FDA oversight of supplements, most of the brands we carry are what is classified as "pharmaceutical grade," meaning there is extensive lab testing (conducted by a third party) on each batch to ensure the raw materials are pure and uncontaminated, and that the finished product contains the advertised dosage of each ingredient per capsule.

Many of our brands also partner with researchers so that clinical trials can be run using their specific product. Oftentimes, we know that the products we carry are effective for the conditions we are using them for, not only based on the data we have about one of the raw ingredients, but because the actual finished product has data to back up the results.

While supplements are available for purchase from many different online vendors, there are some important safety concerns to consider when ordering supplements from certain retailers like Amazon.  We urge you to consider the following when buying supplements: 

  • What are the manufacturer’s standards for purity, potency, and bioavailability?
  • If you are purchasing from a reseller, what do you know about this seller and the authenticity of their products?

  • Has the product undergone third party testing? Can they provide the results when requested?

We often hear: "I have Amazon Prime. I'll get my supplements on Amazon." If this is you, we get it. Amazon is convenient and shipping is always free, BUT for supplements, there are some serious concerns:

Because it is a profitable industry, there have been many instances of counterfeit labels and products being sold on websites such as Amazon.com, that may look like they come from the same manufacturers you know and trust, but do not. Because Amazon.com allows anyone to open an Amazon store, there are many resellers on the site, including some that are posing as the manufacturer of the supplements they are selling.

You will notice, for example, on each bottle from the brand Ortho Molecular Products, they have printed the line "Professional Strength. Not for sale through Amazon.com." Why then, can I log into Amazon.com right now and find plenty of their products for sale? We know they are not being sold by the manufacturer, and because the resale of their products on Amazon is illegal, you have to question where and who these products are coming from. If you price compare, you will also see that many of those products are sold at a substantial mark-up above suggested retail price. There have also been expired products being illegally repackaged and sold as viable product on Amazon. The quality of the products you use during your treatment is very important, and in an unregulated industry, it is important to use products that will help rather than potentially harm you.

Additionally, there are cautions to be aware of when choosing to purchase supplements from drug or retail stores. In 2015, the New York Attorney General sent cease and desist letters to GNC, Walgreens, Target, and Walmart after conducting an investigation into three of the herbal supplements sold on all of their shelves, and finding no trace of what was listed on the label, as well as many undisclosed ingredients including wheat in supposedly gluten-free products. Beyond just being a waste of money, these supplements provide no clinical benefit, and could also be potentially harmful due to the presence of allergens and ingredients such as house plant added as filler.

 You can read news coverage of the findings here.

The same was true of over-the-counter vitamin D3 in an April 2013 report by JAMA Internal Medicine. They found that potency was “highly variable” and ranged from 9% to 146% of label claims.

In an unregulated industry, it is incredibly important to do your research when selecting supplements.

Fortunately for you, we take the guesswork out of it! As a doctor's office, we are able to get these products directly from the manufacturers. We want our treatment plans to work so our patients can get back to vibrant health, so we only stock products of the highest purity and potency that we truly believe in.

When you are purchasing supplements from us, you can trust that you are getting what you pay for!

Our Ginkgo biloba is Ginkgo, not house plant.