The US supplement industry has been rapidly expanding and, according to experts, is likely to reach a whopping $57 billion by 2024.
Various products claiming to provide increased energy, boost the immune system, suppress appetite, and increase muscle mass are popping up on the shelves, and gym enthusiasts seem to be loving them.
However, the recent Consumer NZ research begs the question of how safe these supplements we take so lightly are.
Consumer NZ research writers investigated six sports supplement stores in New Zealand and were astonished at what they found.
Six products they got contained seven illegal substances, including beta-phenethylamine, deanol, hordenine, Mucuna pruriens extract, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and N-Methyltyramine hydrochloride.
Let’s check them out in more detail.
Beta-phenethylamine is an amphetamine-like drug found in illegal drugs (e.g., MDMA). Since it acts as a stimulant, it found use in sports supplements (to allegedly elevate energy, increase metabolism, and suppress appetite).
However, this class of stimulants doesn’t come without side effects that range from mild (e.g., euphoria, increased alertness and pain threshold) to severe (stroke, heart failure, and sudden death), which is why it was banned in Australia, Brazil, the UK and the US.
Deanol, a substance used for memory and learning improvement (often prescribed to ADHD and autism patients), was also found in one of the products.
Any product containing more than 10 mg/L or 10 mg/kg is considered to be a prescription medicine. That made it more surprising to find out that the supplement in question contained a staggering 150 mg of it per capsule.
Another interesting thing about this supplement was that it claimed to improve mood and athletic performance despite there not being enough scientific evidence to support these claims.
Hordenine, a stimulant commonly used for athletic performance and focus, was also one of the forbidden ingredients found in supplements. Though it can allegedly support energy, endurance, and focus, there’s not enough scientific evidence to support these claims.
However, what it can do is cause rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.
Mucuna pruriens seeds contain high levels of levodopa, a substance commonly prescribed for Parkinson’s disease.
While the product claims to increase libido, testosterone, strength, etc., it can also cause worrisome psychological effects such as mania or hallucinations.
Additionally, it may produce an array of adverse effects, including nausea and vomiting, as well as liver and respiratory issues.
GABA is an amino acid used to treat stress, anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure. It’s also employed in making “fantasy” or “liquid ecstasy.”
N-Methyltyramine hydrochloride, a C-class drug used for promoting athletic performance and weight loss, was also one of the problematic ingredients.
Unfortunately, there’s not enough scientific evidence to support these uses, and some studies even suggest that it can increase appetite and decrease fat burning.
Luckily, some of the supplements were pulled from the shelves or promised to be reformulated after the research. Still, you should be cautious about supplements you take and make sure they aren’t laced with any illegal and potentially health-harming substances.