The Crazy, True And Scary Facts About The Supplement Industry.

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Podcast, Supplements

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

In every drugstore aisle in America, shoppers cast the classic pose: two products in hand, confusion on their faces as they attempt to decipher the advertising claims and safety labels. It's an important decision, but it is so hard to be certain you're making the right call.

A new company called LabDoor buys dietary supplements and energy drinks off retail shelves and sites. Then, they send each product to an FDA-registered laboratory for a detailed chemical analysis. Their technical team then collects the laboratory results and builds algorithms to translate this data into simple grades and rankings.

The result is that you get to find out what's good, what's bad, and whether your protein powder, fish oil, vitamin D, energy drink or multivitamin actually contains what it says it contains, and whether it has any nasty contaminants.

In this episode with Neil Thanedar from Labdoor, you'll find out:

-How supplement companies “cheat” when it comes to getting their products analyzed…

-Why your protein powder may not actually have in it what it says it has in it…

-The shocking truth about fish oil quality…

-The one energy drink that is the biggest chemical cocktail in the supplement industry…

-And much more!

If you have questions, comments or feedback about Labdoor and the supplements industry, leave your thoughts below (and also take heart – I thoroughly vet and research every supplement at!)

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

34 thoughts on “The Crazy, True And Scary Facts About The Supplement Industry.

  1. Bernardo Sotto Mayor Pizarro says:

    Great site!

    But in terms of protein tests, there shouldn’t be tested Gainers, because they are not supposed to be 100% protein. I think it should have a different category. Would also love to see a thermogenics category in wich some pre-workouts should be.

    Other than that, awesome!!!

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Stephanie says:

    I first heard of Labdoor through this podcast and have been relying on it to evaluate supplements for my family…which is why this CBC investigation was disconcerting:

    In January 2016, CBC retracted a story because Labdoor got 2 of 3 test results for supplements very wrong–that’s an error rate of 66%. The supplement companies insisted their products were solid; CBC then requested other, independent Labs re-do the testing. Eventually, Neil Thanedar of Labdoor apologised for misleading the Canadian public about our supplements.

    Neil: What are you doing at Labdoor to keep our trust? How are you ensuring that these types of error are not frequently occurring in your testing?

    1. Neil Thanedar says:

      Hi, this is Neil from Labdoor.

      First of all, we performed over 100 tests on 25 Canadian supplements for this report, and have published all of the results on our site. We had no control over which tests were highlighted in that video.

      Second, we retested the two products mentioned in the video using new test methods and updated our report and rankings to reflect the new data.

      Third, I personally flew to Toronto to film the new segment and answer all of CBC’s questions on the record.

      Labdoor will always strive towards 100% accuracy in all of our tests, and are constantly looking for more accurate test methods. We also know that our rankings get more accurate as we test the same products more often, so replication studies are going to be another major focus for us going forward. Most importantly, we will always be transparent when we report an error, and do our best to fix it as quickly as possible.

      We care deeply about our mission of helping consumers find the safest, most effective products, and hope you’ll continue to follow our progress as we work to collect accurate data on every popular vitamin and supplement on the market. Thanks for your questions, and for challenging us to get better.

  3. marc GG says:

    Did you ever test the supplements sold through network marketing like Usana or Amway?

    1. Yes, they don't hold a candle to EXOS in terms of quality/efficacy.

  4. Mary Crow says:

    Trim Healthy Mama Diet plan is becoming very popular and they approve Pristine Whey Protein Powder. It did not make your top ten list. Was it tested.

    1. It wasn't. Have a read through this, it should help you!…

  5. cookecc says:

    The Omega with D3 did ok, but I was actually looking at the Omega 3 (which most people take) and it only got a C, EPA + DHA content accounted for only 29% of total fish oil content, which was significantly below average. Very surprised at that.

    1. Oh yeah, you're right. That's not cool.

  6. cookin74 says:

    Woa, I'm shocked to see that Nordic Naturals did not do so well!?! They're renowned for their purity and good quality products. I wonder what's up with that

    1. Appears that they ranked higher in quality and lower in value. Looks like an overcharging matter.

  7. kelcey1 says:

    Hey Ben, I just read an article about lipid peroxides, and how taking fish oil and/or krill oil supplements is not healthy because it causes lipid peroxidation throughout the body. Your thoughts??? I use the fish oil by Pharmex and not a cheap fish oil to avoid rancidity, but this article seems to suggest that oxidation is impossible to avoid since fish oil is so high in unsaturated fat. Maybe I should only do coconut oil, grass-fed butter, etc and stop the fish oil; may just eat fish (although I have to avoid pyruvic acid which is really high in all seafood)? Thx

    1. Not if you combine it with the things you find it combined with in it's natural environment, like vitamin E, astaxanthin, etc. That's why I use stuff like Superessentials, or else combine the Thorne Multi with the Thorne Fish oil. You have to eat a heckuva lot of salmon to get all the benefits of fish oil, especially if you're really active. I've done omega 3 index and inflammation tests and also rank between when I'm on 4-6g of fish oil per day.

  8. weedanny says:

    Interesting podcast. I noticed the supplement company's lost point for going over the dose which they advertise on the label. I thought going over a little bit would be a good thing.

    1. Accuracy counts for more than "bonus ingredients" I guess ;)

    2. neilthanedar says:

      Right now, our label accuracy calculation is based on absolute variance, and so a supplement in our system would be equally penalized for a -20% label variance as a +20% label variance. We are considering a new system that would allow for manufacturers to include a small positive variance with no penalty.

  9. Genevie says:

    Love the app. I use dave Asprey’s protein powder…any plans to test it. Also my crossfit box just stared selling advocare. Do you plan on testing more products. It’s great that you are testing to check for liable accuracy. However it would be great if in the further you can give some clarity on some of the more questionable ingredients. Example: natural flavoring could be msg or a certain ingredient is actually sugar

    1. neilthanedar says:

      Thanks for the recommendation. It's now on our list!

    2. neilthanedar says:

      Also, our ingredient safety calculations do take into account the types of inactive ingredients added to a supplement. Our scientists will do our best to break down hidden ingredients behind labels like "proprietary blend" or "natural flavoring" into its real components and incorporate these results into our calculations.

    3. kheaslip says:

      I’m catching up on Ben’s podcasts. Is there a phone app? I can’t find it.

  10. stoickm says:

    Hi Ben,
    Do you happen to have the ingredient watch list that Neil was referring to.

    1. I think that was something the Labdoor scientists use, not something for the public.

  11. DarciDrake says:

    Really great resource. I have been taking Barlean's Fish oil pills which was recommended in Beyond Training. I was disappointed to see Barlean's liquid fish oil dead-last on the fish oil list at Labdoor. I take the pills but I imagine the liquid is probably the same. Thanks for the detailed information!

    1. I've been using this stuff lately and it sounds like Labdoor will be testing it soon.

  12. Alex Collins says:

    Great site, thanks! I'd love to see some tests on the newer online 'bulk' brands like

  13. Christine says:

    Super excited to use labdoor going forward! Can’t wait for him to test Thorne fx products!

    1. mcreston3200 says:

      ditto on seeing where the thorne products rank. would also like to see testing on mark sission's primal products as i've always liked them but curious where they stand when tested

  14. andmalc22 says:

    That's one awesome site but unfortunately they don't test any of the leading brands in Canada like Vega, Progressive, or Genuine Health.

    1. neilthanedar says:

      Good news — we're actually testing the Vega Sport Performance Protein right now. For the most part, we'll only be testing US-based supplements for the rest of 2014, but will try to make exceptions for really popular international brands and products.

      1. That's awesome, Neil. Thanks for chiming in!

  15. zvolo says:

    Awesome Ben, Another great and superb informative podcast. thx

  16. ltr2014 says:

    Hey Ben…great podcast and GREAT independent resource. Thanks for the valuable info.
    Definitely interested in having Neil evaluate Thorne's stuff…including, for course, the daily multi!
    Thanks again.

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