Dr. Oz, the man who can make or break an ingredient with one seven-minute segment on his show, said supplement quality tests have found almost half dont meet standards. This could be seen as a huge blow to the industry, but take a second to breathe. Dr. Oz still recommends supplementation, so that's good, and even this segment highlighted that quality supplements exists.
ConsumerLab.com was featured on the April 9, 2013, Dr. Oz Show. ConsumerLab is tests supplements for nutrient content and quality and it's well-known in the industry with many conducted tests each year. So far in 2013, it's released reports on St. John's Wort, CoQ10,calcium and vitamin D, and Lycopene.
On The Dr. Oz Show, Tod Cooperman, M.D., president, Consumerlab.com, talked about its multivitamin review, which found 40 percent of the multivitamins it selected for testing failed its tests.
" I'm astounded almost half products did not meet your standards," Dr. Oz said.
Cooperman even called out one particular product as having two times as much retinol vitamin A ("the dangerous" form, as Cooperman put it). "I consider this a potential danger because if you already have enough vitamin A ,and you're getting something that has two and a half times than it claims, you may be putting yourself in a situation where you may be weakening your bones," Cooperman said on the show. "It's definitely a real danger."
Dr. Oz jumped into say too much vitamin A in a supplement concerns him. He said he recently reduced his recommendation for daily intake of vitamin A.
Next, Cooperman talked about calcium tests ConsumerLab conducted, reporting it found close to 1 microgram of lead per scoop of a particular powdered calcium supplement. "We found so many other products with hardly any lead, so there is really no reason to buy lead in your vitamins," he said.
Cooperman also gave tips on how consumers can help ensure their products are safe. Cooperman suggested they stay away from products that had "proprietary blend" written on the label. His argument is that companies can hide ingredients and amounts using this designation on the label. "If there's an ingredient you really want, you want to see it listed by itself and with the amount," he said.
Dr. Oz closed the segment with statement form the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a group that represents U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements: "We believe that the strength of our industry relies on adherence to high-quality standards and find it critically important that the regulating authorities have the resources they need to fully enforce rules and regulations for quality."
In the following days after the segment, CHPA and the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a different industry trade association, issued another statement that said the members of both organizations recognize the importance of quality supplements to help consumers fill nutrient gaps. They noted both organizations develop tools to ensure safety, and their members follow best practices.
CHPA and CRN rightly pointed out that FDA has the authority to inspect and regulate companies to make sure they follow GMP (good manufacturing practice) regulations. "We fully support the FDA and the FTCs strong enforcement against those who do not comply with the law."
ConsumerLab gave full access to its site to Dr. Oz viewers for 24 hours following the broadcast of the show; the site normally charges a subscription fee to consumers who want to know the full test results.
While some in the industry have questioned ConsumerLab's methods and testing standards, it's difficult to argue the finer points to consumers who were just told their supplement failed a test. With as much power as Dr. Oz yields with consumers, the supplement industry can't ignore when he talks about it, even the bad.
In this case, the bad wasn't all bad. Sure, it would be better if 95 percent of the multivitamins passed ConsumerLab's criteria and if the calcium supplement mentioned had no lead, but both Cooperman and Dr. Oz pointed out that supplements play an important role, that they need to be safe and that the products needs to match the label claims.
And that's what the good guys in this business have been saying all along.