Safety/Effectivess of Dietary Supplements for Vegetarians and Vegans
Perhaps there are other people who read the New York Times editorial or saw the Frontline show on the issue of the effectiveness and safety of supplements.
(as a first time poster to get around the link restriction I’m using the Google URL shortener – just need to put goo.gl and a slash before the string of letters and numbers to get to the site)
The Frontline special reports on cases where supplements caused harm. They also raise questions such as label accuracy, fraud, effectiveness and whether they are needed at all.
In New York the attorney general sent cease and desist letters to four major retailers (GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart) concerning fraud in herbal supplements.
The issue of people on a vegan or vegetarian diet is not addressed by any of these; however, in the case of need the situation may be different because of the diet.
I'd just like to share some of the things I looked into in this post.
People may also be able to find this post via Google, Bing, etc.if they have a similar question, and other sources could be added in responses.
That editorial from 2013 recommends that people skip supplements entirely unless they are USP certified.
As far as I know there are no USP certified supplements that are vegan.
I found a listing from The New York Times of organizations that do testing on supplements:
The four organizations are:
1. USP - United States Pharmacopeia - Nonprofit organization focused on quality and safety of pharmaceuticals
2. NSF - Nonprofit organization that evaluates the safety of various products.
3. ConsumerLab - Company which does testing and then sells the analysis. (currently $64 for two years of $39 for one year)
4. LabDoor - Start-up company which purchases supplements off the shelf and then pays for FDA approved labs to analyze the contents. As far as I can tell the information is currently being provided for free. They speak further about their business model here which is based on consumer purchases:
ConsumerLab currently has evaluations of two Deva supplements: (vitamin E and Omega-3):
LabDoor currently has analysis of three vegan supplements: Deva Vegan Multivitamin, Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin, Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Raw Vegan Protein:
One other thing that I looked into is self-testing one's vitamin D level.
I found one available for $50 (for one test). A blood spot card is sent in the mail to a laboratory and then the results can be obtained.
On the question of testing vitamin D a blog post from Harvard Medical school says that such tests are not in general needed and that there isn't consensus about what a healthy vitamin D level is.
"For one thing, experts don’t agree on what low vitamin D means. Some laboratories define it as below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), others set it at below 50 ng/mL. In addition, tests for vitamin D aren’t standardized or reliable."