The supplement industry is often touted as being clean and pure. People assume that they’re getting natural, safe products that will help them achieve their goals, whether it be weight loss, mental clarity or better performance in the gym.

But a recent survey has found that, despite FDA warnings, many supplements still contain dangerous stimulants.

Part of the problem is that the supplement industry is not regulated in the same way as the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, dangerous ingredients and stimulants may make their way into supplement products.

The FDA treats supplements as food, so manufacturers do not have to prove that their products are safe or effective before selling them.

Hundreds of Supplements Contain Unapproved Ingredients

A report from the U.S. Drug and Food Administration found that 75% of tested supplements still contain dangerous, experimental stimulants.

The study, which was released in 2018, found that 775 dietary supplements manufactured by 150 companies had unapproved pharmaceutical ingredients that carried warnings from the FDA. The majority of these products were for weight loss, sexual enhancement and muscle building.

Could your morning protein shake actually contain ingredients that are not only unapproved by the FDA, but may also be harming your health?

The ingredients of concern were not identified as safe or effective by the FDA. The FDA has prohibited the use of these ingredients in supplement due to the risk, but the ingredients were still found in supplements sold today.

Four unapproved stimulants were found: DMBA, DMAA, BMPEA and oxilofrine.

These four ingredients have become replacements for the stimulant ephedra. The FDA banned ephedra from supplements in 2004 after reports that it increased the risk of stroke, heart attack and death.

Between 2013 and 2016, the FDA identified 12 different supplement brands that had at least one of the four unapproved stimulants.

The agency has issued more than 700 warnings over the last decade about potentially dangerous ingredients in supplements.

Experts say another problem is that the FDA assumes that because they told manufacturers to stop putting these ingredients in their products, they will remove them.

Currently, the FDA cannot – by law – investigate a product before it is placed on the market. The only thing the agency can do is to respond to complaints and issue guidelines on what it can and cannot be in supplements.

Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to do their research and understand that these products are not tested. Experts caution against purchasing and consuming over-the-counter products intended for weight loss, sexual enhancement, athletic endurance, cognitive enhancement or muscle building. These products are most likely to contain unapproved ingredients and potentially dangerous stimulants.

Ideally, consumers should look for brands that provide independent test results showing that their products contain the ingredients they claim they contain (nothing more, and nothing less). Tests will give you some reassurance as long as they truly are independently tested.

The supplement industry is still like the wild west. You truly don’t know what you’re getting when you purchase a supplement.