Nutritional Quackery is something that really bothers me – useless products and practices that promise results that are simply unfounded or claims that are based on extremely controlled trials. Every time I turn on the news there are stories about foods and/or dietary supplements that have been found to improve health or decrease symptoms. What is often missing in these stories, however, is the depth and detail that allows consumers to make an educated interpretation of the information.
Eating habits modeled after products endorsed by star athletes and and inaccurate information passed on by coaches and trainers without a proper background in nutrition are other key reasons why so many of us are purchasing useless products. The big one though, is actually smart marketing by companies that flirt with unsubstantiated claims and tricky positioning of their products. Marketers often try to make general claims about their product which insinuate a health benefit that may or may not exist. So, what can you do?
Check for a DIN (Drug Identification Number) – these are issued by Health Canada and “A DIN lets the user know that the product has undergone and passed a review of its formulation, labeling and instructions for use. A drug product sold in Canada without a DIN is not in compliance with Canadian law.”
For Natural Health Products check for an eight (8) Natural Product Number or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM). As per the Health Canada site, these products are “legally sold in Canada and is safe and effective when used according the instructions on the label. Check the following site to see if your product has been licensed for use in Canada: http://webprod3.hc-sc.gc.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/index-eng.jsp
Ask yourself the following five questions:
1.) Does this product promise a quick fix or fast results?
2.) Does the advertisement contain testimonials?
3.) Are the claims are result of a single study?
4.) Does it take a simple fact about a specific nutrient and exaggerate the benefits?
5.) Are star athletes/celebrities endorsers of the product?
The most important thing is to trust your gut. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is!