It seems like if something is legally allowed to be sold in the United States then it should be safe, right? We have a long history of consumer protection laws that go all the way back to tainted whiskey that could make people go blind, and once that was outlawed it opened the doors to enforcement of consumer protections. Unfortunately there are still some things that are allowed to be sold that can harm consumers because there’s no real regulation, namely dietary supplements. Everything from bodybuilding supplements to multivitamins can be sold with little to no oversight, and Amazon is the unwitting king of this business thanks to third party sellers.
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Online Sale Of Supplements Through Amazon
Today, 77% of supplements sold online are sold through Amazon. While Amazon may not be directly selling most of these products, they make it possible for bad actors to easily find an outlet for unsafe and mislabeled products simply by affirming they won’t sell anything unsafe through Amazon’s marketplace. Sure, there are consequences if they are caught, but few instances of supplement poisoning are ever investigated to that level.
Of supplements sold online:
- 82% of bodybuilding supplements are mislabeled
- 69% of CBD products are mislabeled
- 52% of herbal and dietary supplements are mislabeled
- 49% of all vitamins, both single and multi, are mislabeled
- 44% of botanical supplements are mislabeled
Mislabeled supplements can contain more than, or none at all, of the active ingredients touted on the bottle, can include additional ingredients including pharmaceuticals, and can completely lack one or more of the active ingredients.
Adverse Drug Reactions
Suspected vitamin overdoses have risen 35% since 1999, and each year more than 5000 people call poison control over complications from supplements. What’s more, some 20% of liver injuries are caused by herbal and dietary supplements. For those who take prescription medications as well as supplements, one in three are at risk for an adverse drug reaction.
So how can consumers shop for supplements safely while keeping this in mind? First, it’s crucial to trust the seller and manufacturer. Do your homework and make sure that you are buying from a reputable seller and a manufacturer who has third party verifications. Avoid gummies, as they can fluctuate significantly in quality.
Watch out for sellers who sell things other than supplements, especially those that sell odd lots. Search out more information about the seller outside of Amazon, such as a website that shows they have a real presence. And most importantly, beware of claims that sound too good to be true, especially when it comes to COVID.
Learn more about supplements on Amazon and how to protect yourself from unsafe supplements below.