Recent studies have found that supplements and vitamins often contain additives that may not be listed on the bottle and in some cases may not contain the supplement at all. While those additives and fillers are often benign, new research has found that an unapproved stimulant has turned up in several weight-loss supplements. The concerning thing is not just that it’s unapproved but that it’s also extremely similar to another stimulant that’s banned by the FDA for causing heart problems, nervous system disorders and death.
The researchers decided to look for this unregulated supplement, called DMBA, because of its close relationship to the more dangerous DMAA. DMAA was included in weight-loss and sports supplements until it was banned and represents the dangers that consumers are often exposed to given the lack of regulation of the supplement industry. This is because supplements do not have to be tested for safety, nor do their claims about what they do have to be verified, as long as they include the usual disclaimer on their packaging that the FDA does not verify its claims.
This is in stark contrast to all medications doctors prescribe that are rigorously tested in animals and humans for years before they go on the market for mass consumption. While dangers still arise in some cases, the rate is much lower and the composition of the pills is strictly supervised.
You won’t find DMBA on the listed ingredients of supplements you might be taking. That’s because savvy marketers realized this could put their product at risk. Researchers surmised that supplement producers were instead hiding it under a marketing name like AMP Citrate or 4-amino-2-methylpentane citrate and set out to test products that contained these names to see what they actually contained.
They tested 14 supplements with these ingredients with a machine that could detect the presence of DMBA. If it was present, they then looked to see how much was in each recommended serving. Disturbingly, 12 of the 14 supplements contained DMBA, sometimes in relatively high doses. Some misleadingly reported the DMBA was extracted from pouchung, oolong and green teas used to make the supplement.
While the researchers acknowledged it could theoretically appear from pouchung, more than 2,000 pounds of tea would have to be used to extract enough DMBA for a single serving of the lowest concentration supplement. It is not found in oolong or green teas. Additionally, the researchers could find no scientific studies documenting the successful extraction of DMBA from plants. In contrast, they note that DMBA can be easily synthesized cheaply in large amounts in the lab.
While action may be taken by government regulators to outright ban the use of DMBA until more is known, the researchers point out that it’s easy for producers to slightly modify the molecule and continue business as usual with yet another untested chemical they are free to make claims about. The core problem, researchers point out, is that supplements can make entirely unproven claims without any accountability to the truth of those claims or verification as to the contents of the supplement, which puts unknowing consumers at risk. Until this changes, bans are relatively toothless.
If you own one of the supplements listed below, you should avoid taking it until research shows it to be safe. When it comes to buying supplements, remember that anything written on the bottle may not be true. Do some research first to determine whether a supplement will really do what it claims and to find the most reliable and trusted company selling the product.
Product name, producing company:
Contraband (Iron Forged Nutrition), TGB SUPPLEMENTS.com
Redline White Heat (Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc), Vpxsports.com
Evol (Genomyx LLC), AMAZON (sold by Fitness Factor)
Preamp by Hybrid (DSEO, LLC), BEST PRICE NUTRITION.com
MD2 Meltdown (Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc), Vpxsports.com
OxyphenXR AMP’D (Beta Labs, LTD), Myvitastore.com
OxyTHERM Pro (deNOVOLABS), DPS NUTRITION.net
AMP Citrate (Genomyx LLC), A1 SUPPLEMENTS.com
Oxyfit Xtreme (Oxyfit Xtreme), PLANETARY NUTRITION.com
Synetherm (Synetherm), PLANETARY NUTRITION.com
AMPitropin (Lecheek Nutrition), AMAZON (Lightning Liquidators)
Decimate Amplified (Genomyx LLC), AMAZON (sold by Fitness Factor)
AMPilean (Lecheek Nutrition), AMAZON (sold by Fitness Factor)
Frenzy (Driven Sports), Driven Sports (sold by Predator Nutrition)