Today is episode two of Siobhan Milner’s minis which are shorter solo episodes where I dive deeper into a particular topic. If you have a topic you want me to dig deeper into then please let me know over on Instagram, or shoot me an email.
In this episode, I am discussing why you should always check that your supplements are third-party batch tested. We see just about every Instagram influencer selling supplements by making bold claims that are hardly ever backed up by actual science. And what you may not know is that the contamination rates of supplements are rather high. This is why it is super important to always check that your supplements are third-party, batch tested.
Take a listen and let me know if this episode helped to shed light on the supplements market for you.
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Why You Should Always Check Your Supplements are Third-Party, Batch Tested: Siobhan Milner’s Minis Transcript
Siobhan Milner: I’ve been getting more and more questions about supplements recently. I just wanna preface all of this by saying my background is as an exercise scientist, and I’m a strength and condition coach. So if you’re looking for specific nutrition information, it’s always best to go to a registered dietician.
And just remember that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist in most countries. So you really wanna look for a registered dietician to make sure that you’re getting advice from someone who’s qualified, trained, and experienced. But I can give generalized nutrition advice as part of my role, but that’s not even what I’m gonna be doing here today.
The main thing I wanna talk to you about is why you should always check that your supplements are third-party batch tested. There are a lot of people on Instagram, Facebook, and social media. Selling supplements, making lots of really bold claims about what their supplements can do, and a lot of these supplements are coming from influences.
I see a lot coming from pyramid schemes as well. What I want you to know is that supplement contamination is not rare, so I’m gonna explain. What that is and how often it occurs. But one of the ways we can avoid consuming contaminated supplements is by taking third-party batch-tested supplements, if we’re going to even take supplements at all, which I’ll also touch on, but I just want you to know right off the bat that no supplement is 100% guaranteed safe, especially if you are a professional athlete or an elite athlete of some sort, competing at the international level.
If you don’t want to fail a drug. Then you wanna be really, really, really careful about what you’re putting in your body, because if your supplements are contaminated, even if you check the batch number, even if they’d been third party tested and they’ve somehow given you a positive test result, the athlete is always responsible for what’s in their body.
So as I mentioned before, contamination of supplements is not rare. A high percentage of supplements contain ingredients that are not listed on the label. We see this time and time again in studies. If you check my website, I’ve got a blog post about this as well, and I’ve got one. Five studies up there right away found androgens, also known as steroids or other band substances and over-the-counter sports supplements.
So of the handful of studies that I grabbed, I also looked at a review as well. So a review in case she doesn’t, doesn’t know, takes lots of different studies and looks at the data. So looking at all of these studies together, anywhere between five. 58% of supplements were contaminated. What do we mean by contaminated?
Either they contained steroids or other banned substances that were not listed on the label. So just because you’ve read the ingredients list of a supplement doesn’t mean you know what’s in it. What you really wanna be super careful of is anything that says proprietary blend as well, because then this is a, uh, a blend of some sort of substances that the company has put together and they do not have to disclose what is in that blend.
So this is also a major red flag, especially if you’re an athlete and you’re gonna be drug tested. Stay far away from proprietary blends, but even if you’re not an athlete, you don’t necessarily want to be taking something like a steroid without having any knowledge of taking it. So just be aware by taking supplements right off the bat, you may be unintentionally doping and the risk is much higher if your supplements are not third-party batch tested.
So knowing this, one of the other things you need to consider is do you even need supplements? Whether that’s as an athlete or as someone part of the general population. Again, remember my background as an exercise scientist. You should always speak with a registered dietician for personalized nutrition advice.
But that being said, social media is a hellscape of miss and disinformation when it comes to health, fitness, and performance. And this quote from the International Olympic Committee Consensus Statement on supplements for high-performing athletes is telling, And I quote that only a few supplements, including caffeine, creatine, specific buffering agents, and nitrate have good evidence of benefits.
So there’s a ton of stuff out there that’s being advertised as improving your performance or having this effect or that effect that doesn’t actually have the evidence that it provides the effects they claim. , as I mentioned earlier, as an athlete, if you consume a prohibited substance, you can be banned from the sport for up to four years, and there are no exceptions, even if you didn’t know that there was a banned substance in your supplements.
As I say, if there was something hidden in your supplement and it wasn’t listed on the ingredients lists, according to the world, anti-doping codes, strict liability principle. Athletes are ultimately responsible. So athletes are ultimately responsible for any substance found in their body, no matter how it got there.
So you wanna be really careful if anyone offers you any sort of supplement because you just don’t know what’s in it. Again, I know not everyone listening to this podcast is an athlete, so maybe some of those things aren’t as concerning for you. But again, there’s a reason why a lot of these things are prohibited, and it can be because they cause harm.
So I think it really makes sense to make an informed decision or as an informed decision as you can about what you’re putting into yours. If you’re going to take supplements, so if a registered dietician has established that supplementation is a good idea for you, or if you wanna take one of these supplements that you know have proof of being effective, something like creatine, caffeine, then one of the ways you wanna make sure that that is really what you’re putting in your body is.
Checking that it is third-party batch tested. First of all, you wanna be aware of what is on the wider prohibited list. So again, if you’re an athlete, that’s super important. You can find that on the WADA website, which is dub dub dub dot waa, w a d a-ama.org. And then for everyone. When you’re wanting to check if your supplements are tested, you wanna use a local substance-checking website or an app, or if you’re an athlete, one that’s specific to your Sports Federation to find third-party batch-tested supplements.
So this is different in every country, but often what you can do is Google Drug-free sport, and then your country, and then you’ll find. A supplement or drug testing database. So not every country has one of these, so sometimes you have to find one that is from another country close by, or from a sports federation specifically.
But what you can do is you can type in the name of the supplement that you’re looking at, and often the brand name too. So let’s say you’re looking at creatine, you’d type in creatine, and it would bring up a list of all of the different brands of creatine that have been tested and then you’ll see if they’ve passed the test.
So if they have actually got creatine in them and nothing else. For example, if we’re talking about creatine, and then the most important thing is that you check the batch number. So let’s make up a brand name. Let’s call it Siobhan creatine. You would type in creatine, you’d click on the brand Siobhan, creatine, and then you’d look at the batch numbers test.
You’ll see a couple of different numbers there. Often, maybe it’s only one batch, but what you wanna then check when you go and buy Siobhan brand creatine, is that you are buying the batch number that has been tested, because not every batch will have been tested and you need to make sure. That you’re buying a tested batch.
So the batch number is usually a few numbers long. Then you’ll go on the other website that you’re buying the supplement from, and you’ll check if it’s the batch number. If it’s not exercise caution, especially if you’re an athlete, it’s better to stay away and find something that’s third-party batch tested.
And again, the safest route, if you’re an athlete, is always taking no supplements. If you want to avoid inadvertently doping, but of course, work with your sports science team, you’re a medical team, you’re a nutrition team to make that decision too for everyone. Make sure you’re checking batch numbers and checking that things are third-party tested.
What do I mean by third-party testing? That means that it’s not tested just by the company that’s selling it. So that’s why it’s really important to go find these databases that exist because they are testing on behalf of a whole lot of different companies. It’s not like Siobhan brand Creatine is testing itself and saying, yeah, it’s fine.
It’s someone. Outside, external to that company is testing and making sure that what is in the supplement is actually what is on the label. And just a reminder, make sure you’re meeting your dietary requirements through Whole Foods first and foremost and make sure you’re getting the most important parts of recovery down too, like sleep.
Eating enough, staying hydrated, and having proper programming in place because if that sort of stuff is not in place to begin, if you don’t have that foundation, supplements are a really small part of your performance. And again, if you’re an elite athlete, it could be an important part of your performance.
But again, a small part compared to planning your training properly, and sleeping properly. Eating properly, so get all of those in place first as well. I know I’m sounding, kind of, doom-and-gloom about the supplement thing, but I do want to drive home this quote from Sports Integrity Australia. Sports Integrity Australia says, although batch-tested products are the lowest-risk supplements, they do not provide a guarantee against testing positive.
That means on a doping test as an athlete, you can still face anti-doping sanctions if you test positive for one of these products. Remember, no supplement is 100% safe. The only way to have zero risk is to take zero supplements. So I hope that helps. Clear up a little bit. If you’ve got any questions about how to find out if your supplements are third-party batch tested, you can always send me a little message or leave me a comment somewhere on social media and I can respond.
But again, if you Google something like drug-free sport and then your country, you should find a similar database or you can just. Google supplement third-party testing database and see what you come up with there. Try to make sure that these are not databases that are owned by companies that sell supplements.
Again, that wouldn’t be a third party, so we’re trying to find something external. I hope this helps. Good luck out there.