Every registered dietitian nutritionist has a toolbox. This is one tool that has been in mine for years—ConsumerLab.com. How often have you been asked about a certain supplement, herb, vitamin, etc? If you speak to the public, are in private practice, or just want to stay in-the-know I highly recommend a subscription to ConsumerLab.com. (It’s a nominal $33 per year cost but worth it. Plus it’s tax deductible!)
• How many clients have asked you about garcinia cambogia? Would you like to know more about it, its efficacy, and which products did not pass testing? (Prevention magazine had an article—The Diet Pill That’s Scamming You—referring to ConsumerLab.com results.)
• Curious to know what to look for in a fish oil (omega 3) supplement?
• Do you realize spending more than ten cents per day on a multivitamin may be unnecessary?
• Would you like to find out what weight loss supplements have been recalled? Or which ones contain undeclared drugs?
• What’s the allure of acai berry? Is there value or is it all marketing?
• What probiotics fared best in product testing and how do they compare cost-wise per one billion organisms?
You will get the answers to those questions plus so much more.
Founded in 1999, ConsumerLab.com has tested over 3,400 products representing 450 brands including vitamins, minerals, herbal products, functional foods, sports and energy products, and more. Products are tested for identity, strength, purity, and disintegration. (https://www.consumerlab.com/aboutcl.asp)
As health professionals we are aware of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) but most of our clients and patients are not. In 1994 there were an estimated 4,000 supplements marketed but today there are well over 50,000 (estimates as high as 75,000).
• Unlike food additives or drugs, supplements do not need to be proven safe and effective, nor do they need FDA’s approval before being sold.
• There are no standards for potency or dosage and no requirements for providing warnings of potential side effects.
• Should a problem arise, the burden falls to the FDA to prove that the supplement poses a “significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury.” Only then will it be removed from market.
This Q & A on Dietary Supplements is an excellent resource that may answer questions you have.
Houston-based Dr. Penny Wilson, sports dietitian at the Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute, mentioned how she uses ConsumerLab.com all the time. When a question appeared on our electronic mailing list (EML) about krill oil she commented, “The monograph will help you understand dosing for given conditions as well as purification processes (some are better than others).”
Like Dr. Penny I am a frequent user of ConsumerLab.com. It is one of my go to resources for reliable, up-to-date information on anything supplement related.
Tip of the Month: December 2013
Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD is 2013-14 Chair of Nutrition Entrepreneurs, a Dallas-based registered dietitian nutritionist and Wellcoaches® Certified Health Coach, Jennifer—aka “Neily” (Neily on Nutrition www.NeilyonNutrition.com)—provides science-based advice through coaching, speaking, writing, teaching, and her YouTube channel (www.YouTube.com/NeilyonNutrition). Follow @JenniferNeily. On a personal note, Neily has been a foster mom to 36 gentle giant Great Danes over the years.