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July 12, 2020

Lead Paint, Formaldehyde, Viagra, Glass: Just Some of the Additives your Favorite Health Supplements Might Contain. {Partner}

 

This article is written in partnership with Quantum Nutrition Labs. They’re dedicated to making the world a healthier place & we’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.

 

“My parents eat this. My kids eat this. At the end of the day, the question is this: would you eat it?” ~ Nick Labinsky, COO of Quantum Nutrition Labs

 

I’ve been there: standing in the supplement aisle, comparing prices, reading labels (without really knowing what to look for), and wondering which one to choose.

Had I known that 90% of the “health” supplements on supermarket shelves are not what they say on the bottle—even worse, may contain ingredients like lead paint, formaldehyde, glass, or even Viagra—I would probably have rethought my decision-making process a long time ago.

Yes, even Viagra. (Cheap, generic forms of Viagra are commonly crushed into dodgy “natural” sexual health supplements.)

This is the kind of uncomfortable truth we learned when we spoke recently to Nick Labinsky, COO of Quantum Nutrition Labs, about the reality of so-called “natural” health supplements.

Doing the right thing in an industry that mostly does wrong is in Quantum Nutrition’s blood, pretty much literally: its founder, Dr. Bob Marshall, started QNL with the money he gained in a settlement from a supplement company that poisoned him with tainted L-tryptophan generated from a genetically modified microorganism, causing him to develop a rare, sometimes fatal neurological condition called EMS.

So, if you’d rather avoid wasting your money—or worse, risking your life—read on before you buy another supplement.

Many of us already know the supplement industry is sketchy.

We may remember way back in 2015 when the attorney general went after GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, sending them cease and desist orders for selling fraudulent—even potentially dangerous—herbal supplements. (1.)

That was over 5 years ago, and it’s just the tip of a decades-long iceberg of foxglove-laced laxatives, melamine-bulked dog food and baby formula, and fatal overdoses of selenium. The sad truth is not much has changed since then.

It’s not surprising, when you learn that the FDA has a department of only about 50 people tasked with regulating an ever-growing industry that’s estimated to be worth over $50 billion dollars and is made up of over 80,000 different brands.

No wonder they are only able to inspect 5% of the industry each year. Fun fact: of those inspected, 58% fail.

“Where there is money to be made, adulteration happens.” 

No, we’re not referring to cheating on your spouse here—adulteration simply means making something poorer in quality by adding another, typically cheaper, substance.

Why do companies adulterate products? To make more money at any cost. And the cost here? Your health.

The supplement industry is basically one giant, bloated cash cow, riddled with inconsistencies and bad products, precisely because it’s such an easy money-spinner.

It doesn’t take much to set up a supplement company either, so there are all sorts of fly-by-nights creating products we’re trusting our health to, and it can take years for the FDA to catch up to these kinds of operations.

Watch our full conversation with Nick Labinsky of Quantum Nutrition Labs:

Shop supplements you can trust >>

So, are there any companies we can trust, respect & support?

“Not to put doom and gloom on everything; there are some good players out there,” Nick Labinsky of Quantum Nutrition Labs assures us, “But of the supplements that are sampled for studies, 70-90% are adulterated or have some kind of misbranding on them.”

So, what are we—as health-conscious people, standing around in supplement aisles, trying to find the best products to support our well-being—to do? And why should we trust Quantum Nutrition Labs?

Well, for a start, they’ve been in the business for over 30 years; they’re a serious company devoted to their mission and values. They go above and beyond what the FDA requires when it comes to testing and quality, and they’re also environmentally responsible. Like, for real—not just greenwashing. Here’s what to look for in a health supplement, according to the folks at QNL.

Five questions to ask before you put that supplement in your body.

Unfortunately, it’s going to take a little more than label reading to know for sure whether a brand is trustworthy. You’re actually going to have to ring them up and ask them some questions:

1. Are you third-party certified?

Third-party cGMP (current good manufacturing practices) certification is not required by law, which is one of the things that makes it so easy for companies to operate unscrupulously. Quantum Nutrition Labs is one of only six supplement companies in the world that are USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) cGMP certified. If the company doesn’t have any certification at all, that’s a big red flag.

2. Do you have a COA (certificate of analysis)?

Even with certificates of analysis there is a wide margin for variance. So, you’ll need to get a little more specific. Ask to see the COA and look for more red flags, including terms like “identification: visual,” which basically means the product was only identified by sight. And—as the folks at Quantum Nutrition Labs have first-hand experience of—this is no guarantee. Because: adulteration.

They’ve seen things like so-called 100% organic Siberian ginseng bulked up by 95% with some kind of calcium material and turmeric that is, at best, just colored maltodextrin and, at worst, laced with lead paint. (2.)

3. How big is your quality unit?

Quantum Nutrition Labs has 30 people which, for their line of over 90 products, is enough to adequately monitor quality. Depending on the size of the company, anything less than a well-staffed quality unit is another red flag.

4. Do you Skip Lot test?

Skip Lot testing is common practice and it leads to massive inconsistencies in product quality. It basically means that you’re comprehensively testing products only every few years. In between those years, only the bare minimum standards are tested. Those omitted tests might be as critical as pesticides or heavy metals.

The reason you want to avoid this is that, even if a company is following cGMPs on their end, the industry is flooded with suppliers trying to sell subpar raw materials to improve their profit margins.

If you’re only testing every other year or so, the chances of something poor quality or even dangerous making its way into your product are high.

To give you an idea of how bad the problem is, Quantum Nutrition Labs reject 75% of the vendor samples they are sent. They have seen starch and glass in material from a supplier that had previously sent them a “clean” lot of material.

5. Do you use magnesium stearate?

Magnesium stearate is an excipient (an inactive substance that serves as the vehicle or medium for a drug or other active substance) that makes supplements easier to produce. Sounds harmless, right? Well, nope.

It’s been shown even in small amounts to be metabolized by the body into…formaldehyde.

No. Thank. You.

“If I were to buy a product other than ourselves, knowing what I know, I wouldn’t.” 

Quantum Nutrition Labs are not only head and shoulders above 90% of the industry when it comes to quality, but they also have a unique fermentation process that makes their supplements more bioavailable than most. Their B12 formula is a great example of this: containing two blood active forms, and fermented with a probiotic, the fermentation produces 3 active blood circulating forms of B12 which you will not find anywhere else in the world.

If you’re vegan, you need to supplement B12 >>

Everyone deserves the knowledge to make the best choices for their personal nutrition.

We’ve just scratched the surface here. If you want to learn more about the supplement industry, healthy lifestyle, and good nutrition, Quantum Nutrition has three comprehensive blogs: their Lifestyle Blog, Radio Show Blog, and Why Go Quantum? Blog.

Their highly trained nutritional consultants can also be reached at 512-641-5628, Mon-Fri 9 am to 6 pm CST and Sat. 10 am to 3 pm CST.

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Sources/Further reading:

1.https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/

2.https://qnlabs.com/blog/how-can-you-choose-a-high-quality-supplement.html

3.https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/science/herbal-supplements-are-often-not-what-they-seem.html

4.https://qnlabs.com/blog/how-can-you-choose-a-high-quality-supplement.html

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