The global health and wellness industry is a multi-billion dollar operation valued at over $4.75 (~£3.35) trillion. An estimate made by Statista prior to the pandemic was that size of this market was estimated to grow to approximately £23 billion by 2021. Thanks to the Covid-19 this figure has been easily overachieved as we all tried to focus more on our wellbeing and physical activities.
While majority of health and wellness industry are regulated very tightly, some areas of this growing industry such as food supplements unlike USA (where FDA approval is a necessity) still remains unregulated in the UK as well as the EU. In the UK much to the disbelief, food supplements are still regulated under food law govern by Food Standards Agency while in the EU they are regulated by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). Both these regulations are based on the fundamental principle that products must be safe for consumption and should not have any misleading labels.
Though there are some guidelines published on what and how the claims can be made, there are no strict laws to punish the ones who eventually bend or make it misleading for the consumers.
Taking undue advantage of this unregulated market, many supplements have been marketed using various claims about the positive impact they can deliver to consumer’s health without any evidence or backing of the claims. Different studies conducted across the world by various institutions and regulation bodies have consistently found for many supplements to have no demonstrable effects while some other tested supplements have been found to not live up to their health claims.
While there are many reasons why a supplement may not do what it is marketed as, below are some of the top examples
- Use of low quality/adulterated ingredients: There are a lot of adulteration issues when it comes to sourcing any natural ingredient as market is very competitive and filled with substandard products. For example, Ashwagandha root is the most effective part of the plant than the leaves and is also expensive but many supplements have leaves extract and label their product as Ashwagandha extract without disclosing the part of the plant used. This can be misleading for the consumers.
- Use of food supplements which contain low dosage of the ingredients: There are many supplements in the market which tend to keep the costs down and profits high by using a lower dosage of actives/ingredients compared to that recommended based on clinical studies by the supplier. In such cases the efficacy is hampered significantly.
- The label may be described in such a way that it leaves more confusion than resolving the problem: For example take 1-4 capsules a day. If each capsule contains 50mg of Vitamin C and if daily RDA is 100mg, the variation in the per day serving could result in 50% under dosage to 100% over dosage.
- Purchasing food supplements with fillers and binders: While the fine print of composition might be difficult to read but it is always useful to check if the food supplement has the right ingredients and is also without any fillers like rice flour. A lot of times fillers are used to make the formulation cheaper but this can be harmful or ineffective for consumers.
- Authentic certification bodies: There are many food supplements in the market without the right certification and still claim their product as Organic, Halal, Kosher. It is important to check that the logo used is authentic and validate it from the certification websites.
- Incorrect Packaging: Just like many foods and pharmaceutical medicines, effectiveness of food supplements not only reduces with time (hence the best before date) but also are highly dependent and affected by packaging if moisture and light can penetrate easily into the packaging. This is because most nutrients and active ingredients degrade when exposed to heat, water and sunlight. It is important to use packaging materials which are not opaque and can be re-sealed securely from the time of manufacturing to the consumption of the last dosage in the pack, to help keep the moisture away.
As per the research carried out in 2018 by FSA, UK, it is believed that 65% of UK adult population took some form of vitamin or supplement either daily or on an occasional basis in the 12 months ending June 2016, however only 22% of this UK adult population believe that vitamins and supplements truly work. For the same period in the US 63% of adults are believed to have taken food supplements out of which 66% believed that food supplements make a difference in long term health.
With increasing emphases on the need of food and dietary supplements to help tackle the increasing deficiency within our bodies in the recent years, it is more than ever important to introduce laws which validate the products and also any scientific or clinical health claims. This will not only help to improve the quality of the products but is also highly likely to help improve customer satisfaction and belief in the long term effectiveness of the food supplements.
That’s why we have put a lot of emphasis and carefully formulated our all plant-based Organic Immunity Goals and all natural Brain Health Goals products using the key ingredients with correct RDAs and at the right clinically proven dosages without any fillers, binders or additives to provide the maximum efficacy. See our FAQ page to understand how our products are affected past their expiry dates.