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The global dietary supplement market currently exceeds $150 billion and is expected to grow in the coming years. However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many dietary supplements – particularly sports, bodybuilding, and sexual enhancement products – contain hidden active ingredients that may elicit harmful effects. A recent study found that 12 percent of sports supplements contained illegal additives, and 40 percent didn’t contain the substances identified on the label.

Researchers purchased sports supplement products containing any one of five plant-based compounds commonly touted as having athletic performance-enhancing effects: R. vomitoria, methylliberine, turkesterone, halostachine, or octopamine. They analyzed the various products for the presence and quantity of the five ingredients and any FDA-banned ingredients.

They found that of the 57 sports supplements they tested, 23 (40 percent) didn’t contain any of the substances listed on the label. 28 (49 percent) contained the wrong amount (with quantities ranging from 0.02 to 334 percent of the labeled amount). 7 (12 percent) contained banned ingredients, including various stimulants and several unapproved drugs: omberacetam, octodrine, oxilofrine, and deterenol, and 1,4-dimethylamylamine.

These findings shed light on the inaccurate labeling of dietary supplements and highlight concerns about the presence of banned substances. Although this was a small study, and the researchers only analyzed one sample of each product, the findings align with previous work that identified banned products, such as ephedra and caffeine quantities that differed from those identified on the label in athletic performance supplements. Other research has identified omberacetam and other unapproved drugs in cognitive enhancement supplements.

Without laboratory testing, it’s impossible to know the contents of a dietary supplement product, so consumers should check the label to see if an independent, third-party organization

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