• Dr. Kseniya Gershberg, DC

What's in Your Supplement?

You are walking down the aisles of your favorite stores looking for the right supplements to take for your body. You stop the customer service representative and have them help point you in the right direction of the best vitamin D supplement. You look up and you are surrounded by shelves of Vitamin D from various companies and the representative points out two to you and let’s you choose. They walk away, but you are holding two substances that have the potential to damage your health, unknowingly.

In 2015, the New York Times published an article on the New York State Attorney General’s office breakdown on supplements sold by four major retailers GNC, Walgreens, Target, and Walmart. They conducted tests and found that the listed ingredients didn’t actually match what was inside the pills. O’Connor writes, “The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies.” So instead of putting something that you thought was beneficial to your body, it was actually harmful.

Did I tell you the case of the two kids that I found had an allergy to the same exact Vitamin C sold by Sprouts called Animal Parade? The vitamins taste great, so kids love taking them which alleviates the stress on parents to convince their kids to take just one more vitamin. Parent win with one less argument with their child makes it so much easier. At the end of the day, the battle is really worth fighting for. After I was certified in Advanced Allergy Therapeutics, a non-invasive way to test and treat allergies, I had two cases come in separately. Unknown rashes would cover the children’s bodies from time to time and when I tested it Vitamin C came up. Surprisingly enough both kids were taking the Animal Parade vitamins. After eliminating those vitamins and replacing them with a trustworthy source, the kids did not experience any of the rashes anymore.

O’Connor continues to write, “Among the attorney general’s findings was a popular store brand of ginseng pills at Walgreens, promoted for “physical endurance and vitality,” that contained only powdered garlic and rice. At Walmart, the authorities found that its ginkgo biloba, a Chinese plant promoted as a memory enhancer, contained little more than powdered radish, houseplants and wheat — despite a claim on the label that the product was wheat- and gluten-free.” What if you have Celiac disease and truly cannot have gluten in your system and you take these supplements?

From now on every time you reach for that supplement bottle, think again, and do your research. You may be poisoning your body while thinking you are making the right choice. This is exactly why I do nutritional consultations and educate my patients on the importance of finding the purest supplements. The best way is to order from your health care practitioner because those supplements are medical grade and are the best source.

Amazon is also not the best place to get your vitamins due to a risk of purchasing non-genuine items (always read the reviews) and Dr. Jill Carnahan breaks it all down in her article, “The Fake Supplement No One is Talking About---Beware of Amazon.” Amazon has been known to have fake supplement from China, about 25% of Amazon’s marketplace are knockoffs. To make matters worse some of the ingredients added into these supplements can cause harm beyond repair that can be fatal, like liver damage. According to Navarro and colleagues, The U.S. Drug Induced Liver Injury Network investigated various herbs and vitamins “Our findings highlight that a large proportion of commercially available HDS (herbal and dietary supplements) are mislabeled, exposing consumers to substances unknowingly, some of which may be responsible for liver injury” (Navarro et al). This is exactly why I stress the importance of making sure you get your supplements from a trustworthy source. Always pick quality over quantity because your health is an investment. There’s no price tag on health.


Carnahan, Jill. The Fake Supplement No One is Talking About--Beware of Amazon Dr. Jill Carnahan

Navarro, Victor et al. The Contents of Herbal and Dietary Supplements Implicated in Liver Injury in the United States Are Frequently Mislabeled

O’Connor, Anahad. New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers

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