Why Your Supplement Needs to be 3rd Party Tested

by | Sep 6, 2018 | Athletes, Sports Nutrition

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Why should I make sure the supplements I take are 3rd party tested??

U.S. swimmer’s suspension reduced from two years to six months

According to the article, Madison Cox, the 2017 World bronze medalist in the 200m individual medley, had been taking the same multivitamin for 7 years – a Cooper Complete Elite Athlete multivitamin – and never once tested positive. This time however, was different. She tested positive for a substance called Trimetazidine, a medication used to treat angina, and was suspended initially for four years.

This. THIS is the reason why you should, as an athlete, ensure any supplement you take – even a simple multivitamin – is safe. Third party testing is no joke. It ensures that what you are consuming and putting in your body does not contain any banned substances that could otherwise be detrimental to your playing career. Luckily for this athlete, the regulatory board voted that she did not willingly dope and reduced her suspension to only 6 months … but not everyone gets that lucky.

Sadly, this is the supplement world we live in since supplements are still not regulated by the FDA. Even if you are not an athlete subjected to regular or random drug testing, you still need to be sure that what is stated on the supplement facts label (ingredients and amounts) IS in fact what is in the bottle/container. In 2015, a company in Omaha, Nebraska was under fire for mislabeling their whey protein.

What was supposed to be 24g protein per scoop turned out to be anywhere from 3-5g, whereas the sugar content was over 300% than what the label said it was supposed to be.

Or this one – in 2015 a MusclePharm product was found to only contain 19g protein per scoop instead of the 40g listed on the label. Banned substances can and will be labeled under misleading names as well. Check out this article (yes it was in 2013 but still legit as it happens today) where a meth-like compound was found in multiple supplements. Supplement makers are continually altering compounds to function like a banned substance and giving it a different name.

Simply put, ensure what you are taking is 3rd party tested. To date, the highest level of testing is done by NSF Certified for Sport.

What NSF Certified for Sport does:

  • Test products and ensure they do not contain any of approximately 270+ substances banned by major athletic organizations.
  • NSF also tests for heavy metals, micro, pesticides, PCB/Dioxin, and other contamination
  • Ensure the contents of the supplement actually match what is printed on the label.
  • Ensure there are no unsafe levels of contaminants in the tested products.
  • The product is manufactured at a facility that is GMP registered and audited twice annually for quality and safety by NSF International.
  • NSF Certified for Sport does not allow weight loss products in the program
  • NSF Certified for Sport does not allow caffeine products with levels over 150 mg/serving and 300 mg/day in the program
  • MLB, NHL and CFL clubs are permitted to provide and recommend only products that are Certified for Sport®. Certified for Sport® is also recommended by the NFL, PGA, LPGA, CCES, CPSDA and many other sports organizations

But what if my supplement says it’s “NSF GMP”? Don’t be fooled – just because the supplement is manufactured in a “NSF GMP Facility” does not mean the actual supplement is actually tested. It just means the facility meets standards set by NSF for Good Manufacturing Processes.

Other levels of 3rd party tested exist as well – Informed Choice and Banned Substances Control Group. These are both another good layer of protection to look for. For vitamins and minerals, look for the United State Pharmacopia verification, which is a separate verification done just for vitamins & minerals. All testing is voluntary and companies usually pay large sums of money to get their products tested.

You can find a full list of NSF Certified for Sport products here (but note – just because they are on the list doesn’t mean they are also worth your money to take…): http://www.nsfsport.com/certified-products/.

They also have a handy app you can use to identify products and scan barcodes at the store to see if something is tested or not: http://www.nsfsport.com/news-resources/certified-for-sport-app.php

Above all, be safe and educate yourself about the level of testing for any supplement you take. If it’s not 3rd party tested, you really can’t know if what’s listed on the label is actually in the bottle.

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