May 2022

· 2 min read

Contaminants in Your Protein Powder? Here’s How To Avoid Them

Potentially dangerous contaminants can find their way into your dietary supplements, like protein powder. Learn how they get there and how you can avoid them.

A young man examines the supplement bottle's label claim - How to Avoid Contaminants Present in Dietary Supplements | NSF

Did you know your dietary supplements may contain contaminants? They’re not always disclosed, and depending on the type of contaminant, they could be risky to your health.

So how do you protect yourself? I turned to our NSF experts to answer some of the questions you may have when browsing the pharmacy shelves.

The easiest way to know that what’s on the label is in the bottle is to turn it around and look for an indication of independent, accredited certification, like the NSF Certified for Sport® mark.

Be cautious of claims.

You still may be inclined to grab whichever product makes the best claim. But beware of claims like “lose weight fast,” “gain muscle instantly” or “immediate energy boost.” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes unlisted or hidden stimulants, such as ephedrine, are added to products to enhance their effects. And these secret ingredients are a lot less tasty than those in your favorite recipes.

Wonder where they come from?

A contaminant can be a chemical, physical or biological component that was not intentionally added to the product. Contaminants are often found in supplements as naturally occurring ingredients of soil or plants.

How else do they get there?

They may also be introduced during the production of an ingredient — such as residual pesticides used to repel insects or prevent toxic fungus from growing on a plant, or additives used in the manufacturing process.

The bottom line:

There are all sorts of factors that can affect the purity of your supplements. So knowing the product has been tested by an independent third party like NSF for contaminants, such as pesticides or heavy metals, provides you with the assurance of a safer product.

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