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DMAA in Supplements

Potentially harmful compounds such as DMAA have been found in over-the-counter supplements.

In June 2013, researchers from NSF and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) published a research paper confirming that 1,3 dimethylamylamine, also known as DMAA, is not present in Geranium or Pelargonium species, or their essential oils. The research findings from NSF and USARIEM further support research conducted by other laboratories at the universities of Milan (Italy), Mississippi and Texas at Arlington as well as ElSohly Laboratories, Inc. and the National Measurement Institute in Australia.

The Research

The NSF research team along with the USARIEM found concentrations of DMAA in dietary supplements that ranged from 0.11 percent to 67.3 percent. This study indicated DMAA in dietary supplements was not present in the plant species Geranium and Pelargonium and was likely of synthetic origin; thus the “natural” origin claim and use of DMAA as an ingredient in dietary supplements were not substantiated.

At the time of the research, products containing DMAA had been linked to 86 reported health problems and at least five deaths.* As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued several warning letters to manufacturers who had formulated their products with DMAA and urged people not to consume these products.

What You Should Do

Potentially harmful compounds such as DMAA, disguised as “Geranium” or “Pelargonium,” have been found in over-the-counter supplements. Consumers should be cautious when choosing supplements and try to avoid these ingredients. . NSF developed a testing and certification program that verifies supplement labels are accurate and the product itself is free from harmful levels of contaminants such as DMAA. We urge consumers to seek NSF-certified dietary supplements to avoid unintentionally consuming harmful compounds.

Dietary Supplement Certification

NSF helped develop the only American National Standard for dietary supplements (NSF/ANSI 173). NSF’s accredited dietary supplement certification program is based on this standard (ANSI-Accredited Product Certification Body - Accreditation #0216). The program includes a label and formulation review, testing to verify the supplement does not contain harmful levels of contaminants and two facility audits annually to confirm compliance to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). Products certified to the stringent NSF Certified for Sport® program include additional steps to screen supplements for 280 athletic banned substances.

NSF’s dietary supplement and Certified for Sport® certification programs help retailers, consumers and athletes to make more educated buying decisions knowing that what is on the label matches what is in the container and that the products do not contain any unintended substances like DMAA. The NSF program is used by the NFL, NHL, MLB, PGA, LPGA, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) and the New York City Police Department.

The article outlining the results of this collaborative testing project was published in Drug Testing and Analysis by NSF Senior Research Scientist John Travis and the science team at the USARIEM. The paper can be downloaded from Drug Testing and Analysis’ library.

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