A new study offers a reminder of why you want to be selective when it comes to the nutritional supplements you buy: What it says on the label and what’s actually inside may not always match.

For this latest study on supplement quality, published in BMC Medicine, researchers tested 44 herbal products produced by 12 different companies. According to the University of Guelph (Canada) press release,

Only two of the companies provided authentic products without substitutions, contaminants or fillers.

Overall, nearly 60 per cent of the herbal products contained plant species not listed on the label.

Researchers detected product substitution in 32 per cent of the samples.

More than 20 per cent of the products included fillers such as rice, soybeans and wheat not listed on the label.

read_the_labelThat last point may be of special concern to those with allergies or other food sensitivities. You can read more about the study here.

In the words of one of our previous posts, clearly, not all nutritional supplements are created equal. And while compared with adverse drug events, the risk of harm is quite low, quality does matter. Not only do you want a safe and honest product; you want one that is actually going to provide the benefits you seek.

As we wrote before,

While low cost does not always mean low quality, too often, it does. And especially in these days of tainted imports, it’s important to know what you’re really getting in the supplements you buy – especially considering that you’re buying them to improve or support your health.

If you are looking to support your health via supplementation, we recommend you work with a naturopath or other qualified holistic health care provider. He or she can help you learn which supplements may be of most benefit (and which may not) – and help guide you to quality products.

If you can’t always trust the label, such guidance can be more important than ever.

Image by Cascadian Farm, via Flickr

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