If you are thinking about taking a dietary supplement, you're not alone. According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of adult Americans currently use supplements.
Given the fast pace at which many dietary supplements enter the marketplace and the many published reports that suggest that some of these products do not actually contain the ingredients or quantities shown on the product's label, consumers today have cause to be concerned. With such a confusing array of information out there, how can consumers determine which manufacturers' products are credible?
While there are several organizations that offer testing programs for dietary supplements, the testing methods and standards used vary. Several years ago, NSF/ANSI 173 – Dietary Supplements was developed to provide a uniform standard for testing these products to help confirm that what's on the label is actually present in the product.
Under this standard, testing is also conducted to confirm that there are no unsafe levels of contaminants in the product such as heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides. Certification also helps make sure there are no unlisted ingredients, which is useful for those with allergies as well as athletes.
NSF does not simply evaluate test data submitted by manufacturers. Our program starts by auditing each production facility separately. Samples of the products produced at that plant are then tested by our accredited laboratories to determine if the products are compliant with the requirements of NSF/ANSI 173.
There are three main components of the NSF dietary supplements certification program:
In addition to testing to NSF/ANSI 173, supplements used by athletes can also be tested under the NSF Certified for Sport program to confirm that they do not contain any ingredients banned by major athletic organizations.
There's a reason why supplements have become so popular in recent years. People are more interested in leading healthy lives, and nutritional and dietary supplements can certainly help play a part in that. With so many choices on the market, it pays to be cautious. Be sure to do your research and look for certification to NSF/ANSI 173 on the product label.
A list of NSF Certified dietary supplements is available online.