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Detecting hidden ingredients in dietary supplements

Date:
August 5, 2015
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
To lose weight, boost energy or soothe nerves, many consumers turn to dietary supplements. But some of these products contain undeclared substances. To protect consumers from taking something without their knowledge, scientists have developed a technique to determine what secret ingredients could be lurking in these supplements.
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To lose weight, boost energy or soothe nerves, many consumers turn to dietary supplements. But some of these products contain undeclared substances. To protect consumers from taking something without their knowledge, scientists have developed a technique to determine what secret ingredients could be lurking in these supplements. They report their approach, which helped them find the active Viagra ingredient and other synthetic designer compounds in various products, in ACS' Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.

Dietary supplements can appear to be a healthful option for treating certain health conditions. Their labels list herbs or other natural ingredients that consumers assume are safe to take. But over the past several years, regulators have detected prohibited substances in some of these products that aren't included on the labels. The drug sibutramine is one of these substances. It was once approved for weight loss but was withdrawn after concerns arose that the medication could increase the risk of heart attacks. To catch supplements spiked with sibutramine and other undeclared substances, Zhiqiang Huang, Bin Guo and colleagues came up with a strategy.

Using an advanced liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry screening procedure, the researchers tested more than 100 syrups, capsules and other types of supplements purchased in markets in China and online. The products' labels claimed benefits from blood pressure reduction to enhanced sexual performance. Their approach successfully detected a wide range of targeted adulterants -- including sibutramine and sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra -- and other unexpected drug compounds.


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Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bin Guo, Meiling Wang, Yanyan Liu, Jing Zhou, Hua Dai, Zhiqiang Huang, Lingling Shen, Qingsheng Zhang, Bo Chen. Wide-Scope Screening of Illegal Adulterants in Dietary and Herbal Supplements via Rapid Polarity-Switching and Multistage Accurate Mass Confirmation Using an LC-IT/TOF Hybrid Instrument. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2015; 150731102245008 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b02222

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American Chemical Society. "Detecting hidden ingredients in dietary supplements." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150805121841.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2015, August 5). Detecting hidden ingredients in dietary supplements. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 30, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150805121841.htm
American Chemical Society. "Detecting hidden ingredients in dietary supplements." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150805121841.htm (accessed April 30, 2017).