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Contaminants Found in 90% of Herbal Supplements Tested


The majority of dietary supplement facilities tested were found noncompliant with good manufacturing practices guidelines.

“The U.S. public is not well protected” by current dietary supplement recommendations, an issue I explore in my video Dangers of Dietary Supplement Deregulation. Sometimes, there is too little of whatever’s supposed to be in the bottle, and other times, there’s too much, as I discussed in my video Black Raspberry Supplements Put to the Test. In one case, as you can see at 0:20 in my video, hundreds of people suffered from acute selenium toxicity, thanks to an “employee error at one of the ingredient suppliers.” Months later, many continued to suffer. Had the company been following good manufacturing practices, such as testing their ingredients, this may not have happened. In 2007, the FDA urged companies to adhere to such guidelines, but seven years later, the majority of dietary supplement facilities remained noncompliant with current good manufacturing practices guidelines.

What are the consequences of this ineffective regulation of dietary supplements? Fifty-thousand Americans are harmed every year. Of course, prescription drugs don’t just harm; they actually kill 100,000 Americans every year—and that’s just in hospitals. Drugs prescribed by doctors outside of hospital settings may kill another 200,000 people every year, but that doesn’t make it any less tragic for the thousands sickened by supplements.

Sometimes the supplements may contain drugs. Not only does a substantial proportion of dietary supplements have quality problems, the “FDA has identified hundreds of dietary supplements…that have been adulterated with prescription medications” or, even worse, designer drugs that haven’t been tested—like tweaked Viagra compounds. About half of the most serious drug recalls in the U.S. aren’t for drugs but for supplements, yet two-thirds or recalled supplements were still found on store shelves six months later.

There is also inadvertent contamination with potentially hazardous contaminants, such as heavy metals and pesticides in 90 percent of herbal supplements tested, as you can see at 2:09 in my video. Mycotoxins, potentially carcinogenic fungal toxins like aflatoxin, were found in 96 percent of herbal supplements. Milk thistle supplements were the worst, with most having more than a dozen different mycotoxins. It’s thought that since the plant is harvested specifically when it’s wet, it can get moldy easily. Many people take milk thistle to support their livers yet may end up getting exposed to immunotoxic, genotoxic, and hepatotoxic—meaning liver toxic—contaminants. How is this even legal? In fact, it wasn’t legal until 1994 with the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Prior to that, supplements were regulated like food additives so you had to show they were safe before they were brought to market—but not anymore. Most people are unaware that supplements no longer have to be approved by the government or that supplement ads don’t have to be vetted. “This misunderstanding may provide some patients with a false sense of security regarding the safety and efficacy of these products.”

This deregulation led to an explosion in dietary supplements from around 4,000 when the law went into effect to more than 90,000 different supplements now on the market, each of which is all presumed innocent until proven guilty, presumed safe until a supplement hurts enough people. “In other words, consumers must suffer harm…before the FDA begins the slow process toward restricting [a] product from the market.” Take ephedra, for example. Hundreds of poison control center complaints started back in 1999, increasing to thousands and including reports of strokes, seizures, and deaths. Yet the FDA didn’t pull it off store shelves for seven years, thanks to millions of dollars from the industry spent on lobbying.

What did the companies have to say for themselves? Metabolife swore that it had never received a single report of a single adverse effect from any customer. “According to the company, Metabolife had a ‘claims-free history’” when in fact it had gotten 14,000 complaints from customers, but covered them up. Basically, “dietary supplement manufacturers have no realistic accountability for the safety of their products,” and the industry trade organizations have been accused of responding to legitimate concerns with “bluster and denial.” Yes, but are these criticisms of dietary supplements just a Big Pharma conspiracy to maintain its monopoly? No. Big Pharma loves dietary supplements because Big Pharma owns dietary supplement companies to dip into the tens of billions in annual sales.

Isn’t the supplement issue insane? For more, check out:

More than a hundred thousand people are killed every year by pharmaceuticals? Learn more:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

135 responses to “Contaminants Found in 90% of Herbal Supplements Tested

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      1. Tom, Before I decide to take any supplement (herbal or vitamin), I google the company, and find their information detailing quality assurance. Here is an example :

        If I didn’t find any info, I would email the company and ask if they perform 3rd party testing on each batch for every product and would they share (email) the results with me.

  1. This is truly disturbing and I always appreciate your input, but where does this leave those of us to take supplements? Which companies can we trust? Even if they say they do appropriate testing, can we rely upon such assurances?

    1. Bonnie,

      That would be too long to post here.

      You can go try to decipher the study but it is easier to go to One of the 3rd part testing sites.

  2. I support the above comments; recently you took a swipe at Melatonin supplements, without naming any names; nearly all those I take have the “Isura” label–is that meaningful?

  3. Dr Michael –

    You Are the Absolute Best! I have gifted to a bunch of my family and friends your “How Not to Diet” and “How Not to Die” books, along with the message that I have read over 150 nutrition, diet, health, vitamin, etc. books in my life, but if I had read your two books I could have avoided reading all of those 150 books. I have advised them that if they read all of your few books, present and future, they can forget reading any other health books, and they will live 15 to 20 years longer than otherwise.

    And your generous donations of all the finances from your publications to charitable causes speaks volumes about your good heart and soul!

    Keep publishing your books for the sake of mankind.

    1. But just think, Hon.: If you hadn’t read “over 150” diet, etc. books, where would you be today? Health-wise?

      Just where ARE you?

  4. Just like quality of eg car Manufacturers varies, so of course does quality of supps.

    There are several web sites (some free, some not) which rank quality of varying supplements/varying brands.

    There are a number of reliable brands but to toss one out there (no commercial interest) Jarrow brand is one reliable one and their website documents their practices.

      1. Fascinating use of the word shill.

        He gets people off of their medicines and he tells them that Big Pharma also sells supplements and they don’t need most of those either and that makes him a shill.

        He has probably saved me thousands of dollars.

        1. I enjoy listening to Dr Rhonda Patrick but if she is going to get me to spend all of my money on supplements then she is more likely to be the shill.

          Not saying that she is, but Dr Greger is saving me money and I appreciate that.

      2. Mark

        So, we should just ignore the evidence from professional journals cited by Greger and just take your word for it instead?

        How stupid do you think people here are?

        As for shills, you give a very good impression of someone who might be shilling for supplement companies. However, I think that such companies would only employ people who could do the job with a certain degree of intelligence and sophistication. I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t make the grade.

        Do you have any intelligent observations to offer?

      3. Steve,

        I’ve been around a long time and nutrition has been a subject I’ve been vitally interested in. This is a rough guesstimate, but it’s probably fair to say that over the last 10 -15 years I’ve invested 2-3 hours a week on the subject of nutrition, so that equates to between 750 or more hours on that important subject.
        I appreciate your input regarding what you think about the good doctor, Dr. Michael Greger, MD. Luckily, in America, everyone is still allowed to have an opinion, right? That’s one of the great blessings of living here. I’m disappointed someone with your supposed background in nutrition, I would guess you would have, with your profession being that of testing nutrients to determine if what’s on the label is what’s in the bottle, and all that’s in the bottle, is to ignorant of who Dr. Michael Greger, MD really is! Because of your work, I gave you credit for being better informed, which may have been a disservice to you, if you actually meant what you said about Dr. Greger and his research team do in writing articles like the one you seem to be upset about, suggesting he only wrote such an article to get people to stop using supplements and get them back on meds. I’m sitting here writing this response, and I’m confused. I would think that you would be much better informed about a person or a subject before you began to speak negatively about them or it. Here’s an MD, whose dedicated his life to providing this critical research information for us all to be able to take advantage of, and charges nothing for you, me or anyone else, to visit his website to learn how to feed the body what it needs to arrest, and even reverse many of the diseases we often know to be potential killers for millions of Americans each year! The fact is that he lives what he teaches and thousands and thousands of people, after learning how to become healthy again, by eating correctly, have been able to do so eating plant-based food. Not only that, but with their doctor’s blessing, they’ve reduced or completely stopped taking medications! Now those are the facts and you can take that to the bank. Shame on you, my friend for your efforts to besmirch the good doctor and his team for the years of research and effort they’ve put forward to help those willing to learn, to be able to regain their health. Off the record, I had several health issues I was concerned about and all of them have been resolved by learning how to feed my body the healthy food it needed, health promoting foods, that have allowed me to regain my own health. I’ve been so impressed with his good research and what the average person can do to regain their own health, without needing their doctor’s prescribed meds., good or bad supplements, to do so, I’ve shared his’s research and videos with many of my retirement planning clients, with many seeing incredible success. Surprise, surprise, many of them are now healthier today than they were three, months, six months, or years later, today, than they were before they began to use the research Dr. Greger’s team has produced, and yet, in some cases, they are not only healthier today, they are older to boot! ago and yet they are that much older.
        Since I’m one of the older baby boomers, I have a hunch I may be older than you and if you’re open and willing, I’d like to provide you some healthy advice from an old sage. Be careful and take time to learn about what you’re going to speak or write about BEFORE you do. That’s probably a better way to maintain good relationships and to not be sued for defamation.

        With warm and personal regards, Ed B.

        1. I’m new to the doc. Someone posted a link to that article and that’s what I responded to. I watched a couple more of his videos, another one disparaging supplements with a another blanket statement. That could lead to gullible people stopping products that are helping them or may be preventing issues later based on the blanket statement without a counter-balance.Based on what I’ve seen on the site there are better places to get health information, IMO.To each his own.

  5. I’m an avid follower of this blog and site, but a little put off by the vagueness of this particular article. “98% of this and 50,000 sickened.” Where did you find the data? What brands?

    It is possible to fly under the radar of the FDA: people find ways to cheat for money all the time. A big category to be wary of is weight-loss and sex enhancement products which are often marketed as miracles, so buyer beware! But to lump those types of supplements in with Vitamin C and D3 manufactured by verifiably compliant companies is disingenuous.

    Hundreds of companies whose products are on your store shelves are entirely transparent. They follow GMPs strictly, have ISO certified Laboratories that test all raw material, all blends in process, and all finished goods. These companies are audited regularly and randomly by FDA and certifying bodies. Third-party labs are testing their RMs and finished goods, too. Watchdog Labs like and are testing and reviewing the results. I have not yet found a 98% failure on any supplement tested by watchdogs.

    I once read a book about a guy in India that performed alleged miracles. There were hundreds of accounts from these unidentified people living in unidentified places working in unidentified jobs getting miracles. I rolled my eyes with the turn of every page. I am sad to say, I did the same reading this article. Too vague, promotes fear, and doesn’t give supporting information. The Doctor’s articles are usually more thorough than this.

    1. Phoenician,

      You can check out the list of references cited in the videos referenced in the blog. Then you can let the rest of us know which ones are incorrect, and why.

      Plus, this website does provides sources — scientific research article published in peer reviewed journals. Which is more than your comment does. Could you provide us with credible sources to support the statements you made in your post? Thank you.

    2. Phoenician,

      You are already going to sites that do lab testing and that is probably how you chose your brand and you already did the research and know about the dangers and know about GMP and USP and you probably aren’t buying your vitamins on Amazon in the first place. Most people are and most people do not know that there even are risks.

      Dr. Greger is presenting study results. From those results, people can learn something and know the dangers and find out about the lab testing and learn how to protect themselves, but first they need to understand that they are doing herbal because they don’t trust Big Pharma and Big Pharma probably owns their supplement company, too, unless they learned enough to make wise choices.

    3. Why do people claim that these are merely Greger’s unsupported opinions and/or that he doesn’t provide the supporting evidence?

      All we have to do is click though to the the studies, videos etc linked in the blog post. On my screen, the text containing the click-throughs is presented in light blue.

      Also, the evidence clearly refutes your claims that everything is fine in supplement land. The post by Mr Investigator below adds some very useful detail to the picture Grgere has painted.

  6. While it is very important to raise awareness and improve quality of herbal dietary supplements I feel that this article has a sensational quality to it. I encourage every reader to look at FDA recall site where it lists all recalls for food, pharma and dietary supplements in the US. From the list it will be clear that pharmaceuticals have as many if not more recalls due to contaminants among which will be some cancerogenic or other poisonous substances. Food items are often recalled due to undeclared allergens or microbial contaminants. Yet, both food and pharma are adhering to GMPs (good manufacturing practices) . That’s another point that requires further clarification in this article. GMPs in itself do not guarantee product free of contaminants. I’d encourage Nutrition further study the subject and provide a better overview.

  7. I think we are all moderately aware of these kinds of infractions. I know this might be difficult, but if we had access to a list of the best and the worst supplement companies, that would be an assest to our wellbeing.
    Thank you!

  8. I have been using a site called Labdoor, they are independent and test vitamins and supplements for purity, contaminants, potency, etc, then rank them. I find it helpful, they say they are independent and unbiased, and they do allow manufacturers to dispute their findings with science based data, makes me think they are legit.

  9. I have immense respect for Dr. Greger’s work. However, when I have looked at some content “debunking” Dr. Greger, I wonder if it is actually correct.

    I found these two links from my search:

    Can someone address the claims made in these two articles? I wonder if they are accurate or if the two articles are spreading false information.

    1. Vinay,

      The articles are so long that I don’t know how to do the process.

      Well, the two main areas are oxalates and whether he left out the benefits of fish.

      I disagree that Dr. Greger misuses the studies on oxalates. He does tell which vegetables CERTAIN PEOPLE who are prone to kidney stones should be careful for and tells exactly how much to eat of them before risk happens. When they say that he misquoted the study where the vegetable intake was high versus oxalate intake, no he said, “vegetable intake” and he recommends increasing the vegetable intake to lower the acid and he isn’t differentiating between high and low oxalates because the study didn’t.

      Go to Dr. Greger’s videos on oxalates and kidney stones.

      1. I find his answers very clear.

        People who are genetically prone to have kidney stones – he speaks to where to be careful.

        He also does warn about people mega-dosing spinach and the dangers from that.

        I don’t see him running away from the topics.

        1. Vinay,

          His writing process is to write 800 to 1000 page books and edit them down. Their argument for things like low meat didn’t harm asthma as much isn’t part of demonstrating the power of a Plant Based diet and he can’t do 10,000 page books to get every detail of every study in.

          As far as meat goes, most of these doctors think it should be less than 5% of the calories in people’s diets and just arguing that would take whole chapters and in his improving on the Mediterranean diet topic and Adventist topic, removing meat improved things.

          There may be some arguments that in the women a little bit of fish did even better but in the men the fish did worse.

          Anyway if you have diseases and this diet reverses your heart problems and diabetes and lowers your risk of cancer, let someone else defend the ounce of meat or fish once a week.

          It doesn’t make his position on smoking wrong if he doesn’t recommend it for COVID or Parkinson’s and the fact that he mentioned the benefits for Parkinson’s it just might be interesting enough to make a video about.

          He wouldn’t list every single benefit of smoking because that would not be productive. Because smoking mostly kills.

          1. Some of the arguments were picayune.

            The concept that the Rice Diet doesn’t count as a Plant-Based diet is ridiculously petty.

            The fact that the Rice Diet had as much benefit as it did even though it was white rice and let people eat a spoonful of sugar doesn’t make it the antithesis of Whole Food Plant Based.

            1. The concept of How Not to Die is that the same diet can reverse and prevent so many diseases.

              Usually, when people argue against him, it is that they have a pet food item that they want to hold onto.

              And they can hold onto fish once a week or a small amount of meat and be under the WFPB covering.

              Dr Ornish said that the better they clean up their diet the better the health results in his studies but nobody is perfect.

    2. Vinay,

      If you look at the fish studies, his concerns are more about things like PCB’s, Mercury, Arsenic, IGF-1, microplastics, and that farmed fished are so diseased and wild-caught fish are swimming in a toxic sea soup.

      Here is a scientist talking about diseases in farmed fish and wild salmon.

      Wild caught fish becomes an issue for the environment, particularly with the changes in the pH of the ocean and population explosion and pollution and microplastics.

      Here is a documentary recommending farmed fish as a solution to the problems of wild-caught fish, but I can post another about farmed fish because they are so diseased that it is ridiculous.

    3. Vinay

      Your first link is to a commercial website that employs a number of pro-saturated fat low carb diet advocates. The author of that article is a notorious blogger who some years ago became a darling of the low carb/keto/paleo/cholesterol sceptic etc crowd by continually criticising Colin Campbell’s The China Study. She has no qualifications that I am aware of – I think she did an English literature course at college but failed to complete a degree. She appears to make her living criticising vegetarian/vegan diets and pandering to the low carb crowd. She’s been around for a long time but i stopped bothering reading her stuff years ago since it was mostly tendentious misrepresentaion of the facts.

      Your second lonk is to an article by Harriet Hall. Hall is actually a qualified MD but, unfortunately, she seems to think that science and her own opinions are one and the same thing. They aren’t. She is stronly biased against vegetarianism and veganism. Also, despite what Hall claims, Greger advocates a whole food plant based diet. He doesn’t advocate vegetarian or vegan diets as such. He is actually on record as stating that many if not most vegetarian and ‘vegan’ diets are unhealthy. Hall simply ignores this and vents her bias against vegetarianism/’veganism’ in the guise of a review of Greger’s book. If she was actually interested in the science, as opposed to simply expressing her personal opinions, she would acknowledge that the US Dietary Guidelines – perhaps the premier expression of mainstream nutritional science – explicity that well planned vegetarian diet – including diets that 100% vegetarian – are one of only three heathful dietary patterns identified by US scientists

      If she was interested in the science she would also reference the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics scientific position paper which noted

      ‘It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.’

      She might also have pointed out that the World Health Organization position on what constitutes a healthy diet is pretty much the same as Greger’s, ie it should consist mostly of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts etc. And she would recognise that the World Cancer Research Fund has a similar view

      While Greger himself favours a 100% vegetarian whole food plant based (WFPB) diet, he states that any and every step along the way to that goal benefits our health. There is no conclusive evidence that 100% vegetarian WFPB diets are better than WFPB diets containing small amounts of animal foods. Indeed all the traditional WFPB diets (Okinawan, Japanese, Chinese, rural African etc) cited by Greger contained small amounts of animal food.

      In summary, nutritionql science has found that diets high in whole plant foods are the healthiest. This is Greger’s view also. Whether such diets do or do not contain small amounts of animal foods is a secondary issue. Opinionated bloggers like Minger and Hall are too busy attacking vegetarianism/veganism to bother about what the actual science shows.

      1. “There is no conclusive evidence that 100% vegetarian WFPB diets are better than WFPB diets containing small amounts of animal foods. Indeed all the traditional WFPB diets (Okinawan, Japanese, Chinese, rural African etc) cited by Greger contained small amounts of animal food.”
        – – – – – –

        I’m always curious as to what people mean by “small amounts.” How small is small? The equivalent of one tablespoon per day? Per week? Or maybe one cup? It’s one of those ambivalent-sounding phrases like “in moderation.”

            1. YR, I wrote a reply earlier but it disappeared into the ozone. Anyway, I personnally do not eat any cheese on my spinach salad. I just don’t buy it. I was just saying that 4% of calories for someone like me eating 1500 cal to 1800 cal works out to be about 60 or 70 cal.

        1. You’d have to look at eg the particular studies in question. Also, it may be that people didn’t eat animal foods every day … perhaps once or twice a week and on feast days. That seemed to be the case with the poor Neapolitans who first inspired Ancel Keys to investigate diet and cardiovascular health.

          The composition of diets in such studies are often averaged For example, in the Okinawan tradition diet cited by Barb, the animal foods content was less than 4% and the traditional Japanese diet was less than 7% of total calories.

        1. Yes but if Vinay is new to the topic of nutrition and health he wouldn’t be aware of these issues or the history behind them.

          Frankly, I find it refreshing that someone seeks further information rather than just assuming that an individual with an article on the internet truly knows what they are talking about and isn’t misrepresenting the facts to make a particular case that is contrary to the scientific evidence.

        2. Barb,

          It is not easy to find things on the internet, particularly if you are new.

          You have to have Google and YouTube and the other social media start to figure out your algorithm and help you instead of fighting against what you are trying to learn.

          Vinay is more likely to suddenly have hundreds of articles against Plant-Based eating be offered, rather than sources for it. I still get maybe 3 to 1 against it. We have already covered most of the topics and I am not daunted but I don’t know even how to get to the algorithm where Google understands me.

          It is because I clicked on the links questioning it and the more of those you click on, the more of those you get, but it just makes it so hard to learn and I think Vinay took a brilliant step of asking for help from people who may understand it better.

          You are even more right that The China Study is old and the people who go Plant-Based now will never have heard of that or Dr. Ornish’s studies or Pritikin or the Okinawan’s. It is not easy to get those to come up. You have to keep Googling them over and over and over again because they are old. Newer people will never have heard of Forks Over Knives or any of it. They will start maybe at Game Changers.

    1. ElioraEliana,

      The study was on herbal supplements.

      Dr. Greger does recommend taking the others that you mentioned.

      But he does recommend USP, GMP, 3rd party lab-tested brands because there will be con artists for everything.

          1. Mark

            On the basis of your posts here, I hardly think that intelligence is your strong point and it’s highly unlikely that you are an authority on the matter..

            Greger cites the scientific evidence which his blogs and videos discuss. All you do is engage in personal abuse, make unsubstantiated assertions and declare yourself a fanboy of Patrick. She may be fine and dandy but being super confident about her opinions doesn’t mean that she is always correct. I remember seeing one of her interviews where she stated that all margarines contain trans fats. That is gob-smacking ignorance on the part of someone who is promoted as some sort of super authority on nutrition.

            it may be useful to read the scientific literature on nutrition and health before attacking better qualified and more knowledgeable individuals than yourself, like Dr Greger.

  10. You are usually more rigorous. This is meaningless without knowing the company or companies and who is doing the testing. I am hoping that you will follow through with this information.

    1. Click through to the links in the text (the ones on my screen are in light blue) to find the sources for Greger’s statements.

  11. I work for the FDA as a field level investigator so I thought some of you might be interested to hear an inside perspective on dietary supplement regulation.

    Dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA like a food but with additional requirements such as testing for identity, potency, contaminants including mycotoxins and heavy metals. These tests are usually performed by third party labs. The FDA also collects random samples of dietary supplements and treats are performed by FDA laboratories. Three investigator will also collect samples if a violation is suspected. It is the manufacturers responsibility to perform the tests as required by law. FDA investigators routinely perform inspections of manufacturing facilities, approximately every 4 years or more frequently for firms with a history of violations. They review testing records, labeling, health claims, manufacturing batch records, certificates of analysis from ingredient suppliers, and all consumer complaints reported to the FDA and on file at the manufacturer or distributor.

    This industry has a big problem with non compliance and most inspections result in issuance of a FDA form 483, “inspectional observations”, which lists objectionable conditions observed during the inspection. The FDA will send a warning letter if the observations are not corrected quickly, and will use legal tools including court ordered injunction or consent decree if the firm fails to comply. You can search for these online as they are public record, you can also get inspection reports by filing a FOIA request.

    There’s a relatively small number of investigators with the training and experience necessary to perform these complex inspections so unfortunately some bad actors get away with bad practices for years before they are caught.

  12. Is there any place we can check brands and types? Scaring us doesn’t help if there’s no way to find out what is safe. Or can you list brands that have been shown to be consistently safe? Or give us links to good sites if you aren’t allowed to provide that information yourself.


  13. Cathleen Caffrey, here are the links to the videos Dr Greger referred to in his article. You can read the sources yourself since they are listed under each video under the Sources tab.

    In most studies that I have read, brand names of products are not listed. Instead, each product is assigned and listed under a code name or number.

    As others have posted, there are independent labs that will give you results of their analysis of various supplement categories for a fee.

    Alternatively, if you take few supplements, you could email the manufacturer and ask if they have each batch independently (third party) tested, and would they send you the results?

    Or, as ‘ JohnDja’ suggested above, we could try our best to use supplements as little as possible and eat the best we can.

    It is my impression that the videos were made to make us aware of the processes and practices, and not on specific (many) brands that may be substandard. Mr Investigator ‘ adds kindly to the conversation with his post, above.

    It was the same situation with the series about arsenic in rice and rice products. I downloaded the test data of hindreds of different rice brands from around the world were tested for arsenic and other metals. No product names were mentioned… only codes were used.

    1. “…. we could try our best to use supplements as little as possible and eat the best we can. ”
      – – – – –

      Bingo! I agree with that thinking, Barb.

      1. Steve

        It is patently obvious that it is your comment that is ridiculous.

        How anybody with a measurable IQ can dismiss a discussion of multiple articles in scientific journals that incontrovertibly demonstrate that there is a problem, as a ‘scare article’ is simply incomprehensible.

        You are not in some way involved in selling supplements are you?

        1. Dismissing all supplements without naming the companies involved is what is incomprehensible. I belong to consumerlabs that tests supplements from major companies and almost all of them pass their tests. I’ve been a member for 10 years. How does that compute to 95% of supplements tested poorly. It’s simply false and it’s coming from an MD. If you want to believe something that is patently untrue that’s your problem. Keep drinking the AMA Koolaid, those of us with a brain and the ability to check it out for ourselves know it’s drivel.

          1. I’ve been a member of consumerlabs for a while. It’s useful but I trust articles in scientific journals and FDA reports a lot more than I do a commercial organization that is dependent upon the supplement industry for its existence.

            The articles in professional journals describe the problem, Greger is only reporting the scientific evidence. He also recommends that people take supplements so he is not pursuing some biased agenda here.

            You don’t try to address those scientific references underpinning this blog post. All you do is make shrill unsubstantiated allegations. The fact that you work for a company that is dependent upon the supplement industry for its existence appears to be clouding your judgement.

            1. The fact that you trust the FDA says it all. The FDA is corporate owned and does nothing to favor the community.I don’t work in the supplement industry but I do have a degree in Clinical Nutrition unlike Mr. MD.List the 95% of supplements and the companies involved that were contaminated. Let’s see the proof.Consumerlab is going to be testing milk thistle supplements soon. If 95% of them don’t pass then I will come back here and apologize. If the majority of them pass then you and Mr. MD can apologize and he can withdraw the article.How’s that for a deal?

              1. You work for a company that wouldn’t exist without the supplement industry. It’s not going too far to point out that your job depends on the continued success of the supplement industry. You have a very obvious conflict of interest..

                As I noted before, you make no attempt to address the findings reported in scientific journals. Your demand that I ‘List the 95% of supplements and the companies involved that were contaminated’ is absurd. Greger cites his sources, Check the citation yourself. After all, if you have a degree in clinical nutrition, checking a journal reference shouldn’t be beyond you.

                Once again, you focus on challenging the messenger rather than addressing the actual evidence. Simply stamping your feet and shouting ’tain’t true’ is a most unconvincing argument when faced by contrary evidence published in articles in reputable scientific journals and in FDA reports.

                1. I said worked, apparently reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit, I haven’t been in the industry for more than 20 years but I do take supplements.Those links show nothing but a blanket statement without any back-up.The facts are that supplements are tested within the industry and by companies like consumerlab and there is absolutely zero indication that contamination is widepread. At most they have found that maybe a few supplements have slightly lower or higher amounts of nutrients, I have never in my 10 years of belonging to consumerlab found widespread contamination in any type of supplement. Plus they name the companies that are tested.THAT is called scientific proof

                  1. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

                    I consider papers published in professional journals, GAO and FDA reports and the like to be a lot more convincing than your statements. Consumerlabs is dependent upon the supplement industry for its survival and whether it tests for all types of contaminants is not clear to me. Further, a a number of the criticisms from regulators and others is that the industry

                    I take supplements too. So does Dr Greger I imagine.from the other videos and blogs he has posted on this website. That doesn’t mean that I believe that the entire industry is squeaky clean. Nor does it mean that I resolutely ignore all evidence that i don’t like.

                    The evidence is on the public record whether you like it or not. Insulting and abusing Dr Greger for discussing that evidence doesn’t strengthen your argument. Try to dissect the evidence instead of simply spraying abuse.upon people who dare to bring it to people’s attention.

                    1. I definitely don’t think all supplement companies are clean, I do think all of the mainline companies are and have been tested to show it and operate in cGMP facilities.The problem I have with the article is making a blanket statement about all vitamin companies and the fact that they didn’t say which companies were tested. Did they order fly by night companies on Amazon? Which companies? If they can’t say it out loud then it isn’t true. Are they afraid of being sued by the companies?ConsumerLab is independent, they list every brand they test. That to me is proof.

                  2. Incidentally, for someone with a degree in clinical nutrition you have a bizarre idea of what is ‘scientific proof’.

                    And your apparent faith in industry self-regulation can only politely be called naive.

                    1. It’s naive to order from companies that operate in GMP facilities? Self regulation works for the mainstream companies, i stay away from the others

              2. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) is a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments.

                To use terms like “corporate-owned” seems sensational.

                1. Deb, the entire Federal Government is corporate owned. The Feds don’t work for us, haven’t since Nixon left Office.

                  1. Steve,

                    I am not totally against that as a concept. But it is a statement that requires proof or even strong anecdotal evidence.

                    I do not overly trust the government and I do not overly trust any of the money-making communities.

                    But I would not trust many, many, many more companies if the FDA didn’t exist.

                    I would think the number of bogus companies would rise through the roof.

                    1. I respect that you are pro-having supplements tested and that you are taking a stand on that.

                      I have to apologize if some of my comments sounded snippy. I looked at them after and some of them did look snippy to me. But part of it is my sense of humor.

                      I would rather hear that as a nutritionist that you and Dr. Greger are on the same team saving lives.

                      Even if you disagree about the supplements.

                      And maybe, just maybe, consumerlabs and the FDA are on the same team trying to make sure supplements and foods are safe.

                    2. I think supplements are taken too much by a lot of people, but I know without them I’d be in trouble. I developed colitis when I was 13 yrs old and all the doctors did was give me bentyl and probanthine. I could barely leave my house. I discovered nutrition and started taking pancreatin and probiotics and it changed my life.That experience pretty much colored my opinions about MDs and other experiences as well.I go to them for testing but I don’t let them treat me unless it was life threateningSteve

                    3. I have been listening to two people discussing the black lives who have been killed by police officers versus the white lives killed by police officers versus police officers killed by people and what I know is that eventually, the conversations get more and more confusing until peoples’ hearts get in the right place in discussions and that can take time.

                      That goes for any debate.

                      It might be that we don’t teach debate properly.

                      Without listening and caring, things go astray pretty fast.

          2. The concept of the AMA Koolaid when Dr. Greger is trying to get people off BOTH meds and supplements by having them gain health is also sensationalism.

            Dr Greger graduated in 1999 as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition and he has done more for the Whole Food Plant-Based movement than you ever will. If indeed you believe in Whole Food or just use the studies to justify supplements.

          3. Steve,

            It is a real study.

            Dr. Greger isn’t making the study up.

            To dismiss him as an MD when his focus is on getting people healed of their diseases and off their meds and to have them not waste money on a lot of supplements that don’t work as well as the food in the first place tells me that you are more supplement-oriented and he is more nutrition-through-food-oriented.

            Food outperforms pills, too.

            1. The article was really written and has nothing to back it up. Would he print an article completely dismissing a prescription drug without anything backing it up? Maybe he is a great guy but that article was doing a disservice to people who want to be completely informed. Listing trusted companies, of which there are hundreds, would have been a good idea. Food is always better than supplements, they are named that for a reason, to supplement the diet

  14. The claims made by Dr. Greger apply to the USA, not other countries where proper checking and accountability is the rule.

    In Canada, we have the Food Inspection Agency. Their role is to inspect all supplements to ensure that what is supposed to be in the container is in the container. If not, it’s banned from entering Canada and from being sold anywhere here. Whether the products work as advertised is not what they do. But that will come too. When it does, many more products will be banned or be forced to make specific label changes.

    Keep in mind that a lot of the supplements are made by pharmaceutical companies that are international. Those companies make the drugs people take for cancer, MS, cardiovascular diseases, pain and countless other things. They have to conform to international standards. So Big Pharma dupes US customers with products that are for sale only in the US. So those products are ones you want to avoid.

    For supplements to be as contaminated as Dr. Greger claims, (and I would believe him long before I believed anything the FDA says) the supplement industry is at least as corrupt as the US medical system and that is saying a mouthful. I believe it is.

    While I can’t claim to have done the years of study of the US medical system I’ve done on Canada’s national system, I can tell you from trying to include in my health restoration books, consistent, national standards information to US medical care, that for me was for me not possible.

    When I wrote my book, soon to be published KILL THE CORONAVIRUS that does in fact describe how to kill all corona viruses, and the next one, PITCHIN’ A LOAF AN’ MAKIN’ IT WORK (USA only) and A PORTRAIT OF A GOOD SHIT (Canada and other English speaking countries), I tried to include references to legislation governing the application of medicine and medical practices as they relate to the American Criminal Code. But I couldn’t.

    I had to go with what we have here in Canada for the US too. That’s because every state has its own criminal code and they are substantially different. Legislation governing the legalities of medical practice, pharmacopoeia and criminal practices involving and governing both would require several textbooks that no one would read, but that everyone needs and should read. In fact, everyone in every country should be familiar with the laws regarding health care because they affect everyone. They should be taught in school but no mention of this subject is made anywhere.

    On top of that, even now there are still no national policies in place to deal with the Covid-19 crisis. Canada is not perfect but from February on, Canada had a national website in place to educate the public as accurately as possible what was known and what to do. What was known wasn’t much but it was correct except for the information on masks which was just dumb. What to do wasn’t much better at that point so that’s why I wrote KILL THE CORONAVIRUS. Corona Viruses are easily controlled and killed by the correct application of dietary practices.

    Pretty straightforward stuff if you are not a doctor who believes the crap found in most diet books. And here too.

    The sheer enormity of fraudulent information and misinformation out there about food is why the medical profession is the most important stronghold of organized crime on planet earth. That in fact is a huge part of the reason why Covid-19 even happened.

    If the medical/food science/Big Pharma sector were not so huge and corrupt, humanity would be the healthiest species on earth instead of the sickest species that has ever lived.

    If Dr. Greger were getting it right, this site would be populated by people whose health was improving dramatically instead of playing about as amateur science critics getting nowhere.

    1. “….and A PORTRAIT OF A GOOD SHIT (Canada and other English speaking countries), ”
      – – – – – –


      So SHIT was only a working title? You decided on this one then?

      I agree, it’s more visual-sounding than just the one word. Which is usually thought of as a cuss word, and over-used by many. Like moi. :-)

      1. YR

        It would sound much cooler if you said merde instead

        Or perhaps mierda would be more appropriate since the US is now a Spanish speaking country.

        Or perhaps since John is planning to publish his poop book after his book on the coronavirus, he should just call it The Number Two Book?

              1. Probably wasn’t a good idea insulting Mr. Investigator’s organization.

                Somebody on this page might be a mandatory reporter of things like that.

  15. I belong to and they test tons of supplements and very few have these issues.
    Maybe you’re referring to fly by night companies but almost all mainstream brands test out just fine, especially professional brands like Thorne, Pure Encapsulations, Xymogen, etc.
    The last thing we need is the Fraud and Death Administration getting involved.
    Guess the M.D. feels tylenol and other drugs are perfectly safe.
    What is a MD doing writing about nutrition in the first place? Doctors go through absolutely no nutrition training at all.

  16. Steve, thanks for your comment. Dr Greger goes through research and bring us all these valuable information. The more research is done on supplements and drugs and medication the better it would be for consumers. It is great to hear your lab does testing and very few of supplements you tested have issues.

    1. This information is just not true, does it apply to major manufacturers like Solgar, Now, etc? Most major brands have been tested over and over and are GmP certified.This article is just a scare tactic to get people away from supplements and towards prescription drugs.

      1. You clearly know nothing about Greger’s stance on health and nutrition, let alone his position on pharmaceutical drugs and supplements.

        All you are doing is trying to shoot the messenger. The fact is that independent studies clearly demonstrate that there are problems with the industry and this is underpinned by FDA inspection reports. Facts are facts no matter how much you dislike them.

        It is unsurprising that people connected with the industry would try to insult and denigrate those who point out the problems and dangers.

        1. Like I said I’m not connected to the industry, I just happen to know more about the industry then the both of you. I have a degree in Clinical Nutrition and I’v managed health food stores in the past.Mainline supplement companies test their products and are safe. There are hundreds of no name companies that I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. The blanket statement that 95% test poorly doesn’t do a service to anyone. Point out the bad companies, then test the mainstream companies and tell people to stick with them. That would be doing a service.

          1. You said you were ‘with’ Consumerlab. That company depends upon the supplement industry for its continued existence. Also, managing healthfood stores basically means selling supplements, I think that those things count as being ‘connected’ to the industry.

            It would be helpful if you bothered checking out the journal reference yourself instead of just complaining about the fact that Greger dares mention it.and the findings it reports.

            As for Consumerlab, does it even check for mycotoxins?

            1. I belong to consumerlab, meaning I pay for the subscription.I ‘worked’ as a store manager over 20 years ago. I know about nutrition, I know about supplements, I know about the companies who make them.Consumerlabs checks for contamination on everything they test, plus tablet dissolution.I know more about this subject then you do and I know there is no issue taking supplements manufactured by mainstream and especially professional grade supplement manufacturers. It simply isn’t an issue.Big Pharma hates the nutrition industry because healthy people don’t take prescription drugs. They’ve come out against CBD as well because people are not taking anti-anxiety or sleep medicines when they take CBD.The article is false. Period.

              1. Yeah, you’re a genius obviously.

                Let;s just ignore all the evidence to the contrary on the public record and believe you instead. After all, you’ve stamped your feet several times, told us how wonderful you are (several times) and declared that all the evidence cited by Greger is false. End of …. right?

                1. There’s NO evidence, they are presenting nothing. Some people in the medical industry come out and say 90% of ALL herbal supplements are tainted and you automatically bend over? Show me the proof, I see none

  17. Any one knows a heavy metal/contaminants free AMLA supplement?.

    I have heard Amla is basically the best antioxidant you can take, and that it may prevent gray hair also.

  18. I am a retired physician and have subscribed to for about 10 years and find it very useful. My impression is that they test only a very small sample of the thousands of supplements that are sold in the US. They recently solicited suggestions for products to include in their next round of testing of chocolate products. A couple of my suggestions made it into their latest report, but even in this one small category there are many products on store shelves that they have not tested. Quite a few chocolate products have excessive levels of cadmium and sometimes lead. There are usually at least a few herbal products which fail their latest tests due to having too little of the claimed ingredient or having too much lead, for example. There are thousands of products which have not been tested. Sticking with mainstream companies, as mentioned by others, is safest. As always, caveat emptor!

    Anyone who dismisses the FDA or the entire medical profession as corrupt and in collusion with Big Pharma has no credibility in my eyes. Physicians do not make money on the drugs which they prescribe and don’t have the time to try to educate all of their patients about why they need to change their eating habits. I have told many patients they need to reduce their sugar and salt intake, but very few have actually been able to do so, because it isn’t easy to do. I took a course in nutrition my senior year in college because I had an interest in it. My medical school curriculum also included the usual information about nutritional diseases and deficiencies. We learned things like the signs of vitamin B deficiency and how to treat alcoholics with IV thiamine when they came in with alcohol withdrawal syndrome or seizures.

    Physicians have a huge amount of research to try to keep up with once they have completed their training. Most are not that interested in nutrition per se. There are exceptions, such as Dr. Dean Ornish, who was in my medical school class. He has performed some interesting research over the years, but unfortunately other researchers have not confirmed or extended most of his work, which involved small numbers of subjects. That is the big problem with the vast majority of food supplements. They don’t have sufficient research to back up the claims made for them. Physicians want to see research published in reputable journals which has been confirmed by other researchers and who don’t have a conflict of interest.

    As others have emphasized, the SAD is so bad because of the influence of the food and ag industries, the convenience of fast and processed food and the billions spent on advertising. The average primary care physician faces major obstacles in getting compliance with lifestyle changes.

    1. I understand that physicians have so much else to learn and don’t have time to learn about nutrition but that’s part of the problem-they don’t get taught prevention and the AMA has for years discounted that what people eat affects their health. Maybe that’s changing but nutrition needs to be a bigger part of American Health Care like it is in Japan and Germany for example.My reaction to the article was  mainly because of the blanket dismissal of herbal supplements as being mostly contaminated and dangerous, which is just not the case. I avoid supplements not produced in a cGMP facility and mainly purchase pro brands like Standard Process, Xymogen, Thorne, Pure Encapsulations, etc which all do extensive safety testing. The links in the article supposedly being offered as proof that the 90% claim is correct are just a collection of ‘researchers’ making the blanket statement without offering up any proof at all. I don’t find that scientific, I find that a misleading taint being put on supplements that help millions of people without any actual proof. It smacks to me as so obviously tainted as to not make it believable at all.

      1. Steve,

        Can’t agree with you more….. see the work at Vital Nutrients, as an example of far more than full compliance with supplement cGMP’s and to pharmaceutical levels of scrutiny.

        There are a number of bad actors especially concentrated in the “sports and weight loss” arenas, however, let’s not taint the reputable firms and assume all are making bad business decisions and providing less than quality products.

        Dr. G is right on the mark with the ownership of many of the brands. Yes, the majority are owned by 14 big companies….

        Excellence in the supplement industry is more the norm, not the exception. I would highly recommend the work of the top four associations in this industry. They work to eliminate the lackluster players daily…. see:

        Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

        1. Dr. Kadish, Thank you for that link, I knew Pure Encapsulations was owned by Nestle and don’t like it although it hasn’t hurt their quality. I didn’t realize some of the others like Solgar and Nature’s Way weren’t independent. Good info. I stay away from companies I don’t know, especially on Amazon.Steve

    2. Mark,

      Your answer made me smile more than once.

      I don’t want to skip straight down to the fact that you were in med school with Dr. Ornish, but it is hard not to.

      Your points were elegant and honest.

      I know that it is true that

      “Physicians have a huge amount of research to try to keep up with once they have completed their training. Most are not that interested in nutrition per se.” and that, ” don’t have the time to try to educate all of their patients about why they need to change their eating habits.”

      It will be something I think about.

      Though it causes a deficit somehow in overall understanding.

      Most of my friends and family have been turned away from dietary solutions by doctors. Though the doctors do tell the diabetics to count carbs and they do tell people to reduce sodium.

      Past reducing sodium, stop smoking, lower sugar, the doctors haven’t been open to discussions when the patients bring them up.

      I have tried to inform people of the benefits of WFPB for MS patients and Cancer patients and Crohn’s patients and Diabetics and people with kidney problems, but they all have seemed either uneducated or disbelieving – and either way they tend to fight against the concept rather than have a “Why don’t you try it and see if it helps” outlook.

      A lot of them have mentioned their doctors saying, “What have you been watching Dr. Oz or something?” When I was doing caretaking, there were times when I was laughed at or downright mocked for trying to talk nutritional solutions.

      It will be interesting to see if things change over these next few years as more people are trying Whole Food Plant-Based.

  19. I’m a member of Yes, it’s a paid membership, but it’s an incredibly valuable, unbiased resource for navigating the supplement minefield and for updates on the latest research involving nutritional supplements (both positive *and* negative).

  20. Dr. Greger emphasizes the importance of only buying third party verified supplements. However, I cannot find supplements that are third party verified and also vegan. All the third party verified Vitamin D3, Turmeric, and Omega-3 DHA-EPA, have gelatin in them. The only one I have found that’s both third party verified and vegan is B-12 by Natural Nutra. Can you give me any guidance?

    1. Hello Dr. Kadish.

      Thank you for responding to my query regarding how to find third party verified supplements that are also vegan for the supplements that Dr.
      Greger recommends (Vitamin B-12, Omega-3 DHA-EPA, Vitamin D3, Turmeric Curcumin).

      I wanted to let you know that the first website you recommended, Natural Partners, lists supplements as “vegan” that include cod liver oil and lanolin as ingredients.

      I didn’t have any better luck with the second website you suggested, Center of Health. When I sorted for products free of casein, egg, milk, and fish, no products came up at all.

      Do you have any other suggestions?

      Thank you again.

  21. Since the crisis of trust came up, I have been searching for what Spain has been using to treat COVID-19 because they suddenly have been having so few deaths and they have so many cases and they are using hydroxychloroquine.

    They had so many deaths near the beginning but I look at the data every single day twice a day and they have so many cases and about 1 death a day.

    They had a lot of deaths early, but they interest me because when I first started looking more carefully at them, maybe Memorial Day weekend, I thought they weren’t reporting but they still are having that one a day in the whole country.

    Well, I am not a statistics person, and nobody in the press seems to have noticed it or started looking at them but I find their numbers intriguing.

    1. The trials that failed using it didn’t add zinc and that is key for making that drug work and adding Z-Pac if there is pneumonia

  22. Several years ago I started making my own capsules – bought a capsule filling gadget from ebay & a huge bag of medical grade empty capsules, & use them to make capsules filled with turmeric & black pepper, & dried amla which I take daily. Works out much cheaper than buying pre-filled & I know precisely what has gone into them. I can’t see why it wouldn’t also work for finely powdered dried herbs & teas.

  23. Your points about the dangers and hype of certain supplements are well made, and well taken. That said, Dr. Greger, you seem to be demonizing ALL supplements and ALL supplement manufacturers. Five of your favorite words are, “PUT-IT-TO-THE-TEST.” Well, that’s exactly what some of THE best scientists on the entire planet do, and they come from EXTREMELY reputable organizations like, et al. Their collective, conclusive results aren’t to be taken lightly. If a given supplement is inert / useless, then these wonderful scientists exploit it for what it is. If, on the other hand, a supplement shows efficacy for a certain pathology, syndrome or disorder, then the researchers document the results of their TESTS. Final note, Dr. Greger; with due respect, physicians inadvertently kill more patients through things like medications errors, HAIs, nosocomial infections, physician negligence, wrong diagnoses, improper treatment, etc., than do supplement manufacturers who are essentially attempting to supply the health conscious with an armamentarium of their own. Make no mistake about it. We hold the medical community in THE highest esteem and regard. That said, we’re also open minded.

  24. For DECADES, all I’ve heard from Big Pharma was how useless fish oil is.
    Okay, please give me the latitude to describe the following epitome of hypocrisy.

    2012 – The US Food and Drug Administration granted the approval of Vascepa.
    2004 – The US Food and Drug Administration granted the approval of Lovaza.

    Both of the aforesaid are pharmaceutical grade fish oils.

    The cost of Vascepa? Approximately $11.00 – PER DAY (or $4,015.00 per year).
    The cost of Lovaza? Approximately $8.00 – PER DAY (or $2,920.00 per year).

    The REAL travesty is that there are indeed tested and approved commercial grade fish oils with comparable numbers of EPA, DHA and DPA, compared to their Big Pharma counterparts … at a fraction of the cost. (Source:

  25. Is there a website where you can go to type in the brand of supplements you use to see if they are “safe”?

    Or, is the best way to email the company and ask if they perform 3rd party testing on each batch for every product and ask if they can share the results with me?


  26. ConsumerLab just came out with their Milk Thistle supplement test and not one tested positive for mold or heavy metals. Not one.

    Any rebuttals?

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