Maintaining good health and being fit is a modern-day need among all generations today. Owing to this, a diet of supplements has gained immense importance and become part of the overall regimen of families. The question then arises whether fitness enthusiasts are consuming authentic supplements or otherwise? Given that the market is flooded with fake supplements, making this distinction is crucial. Fake supplements usually contain banned substances such as steroids, harmful chemicals, and spurious ingredients and are similar to authentic ones in colour and texture too, causing permanent damage to the body. Also, given that the country has seen a surge in demand for dietary supplements in the last decade after it opened up to global trends in fitness and healthcare, both genuine and fake supplements have thrived.
Another trend that is visible is that most of the high-quality health supplement brands in the market today are imported which makes it expensive (taxes, customs and overheads on imports), especially for young adults who form a sizeable chunk of the target market. However they are not completely informed about how these health supplements work, thus creating conditions for fake supplements to enter the market. Given all these factors, it is important to make the distinction between genuine and fake supplements. There are many ways by which this can be done. Here are some:
Lookout for the barcode: Most mobile phones today support apps that can read barcodes and QR codes. A quick scan of an original brand will lead you to its website where you can read the details of the brand that will prove that the brand is original. Barcode is one of the surest signs of authenticity.
Check packaging and seal: As a consumer you should look out for awkward mistakes in spellings, unfamiliar fonts, errors in information on nutrition and logos that are different from the regular look. Look for the seal and incase you find that it is tampered with, you can return the product. Typically products coming from companies with poor infrastructure will not have high quality seals.
Check FSSAI approval on the packaging: It is important to know whether the product has the approval of the Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI) as it is the regulatory body responsible to check quality of health supplements or whether it has approval of international associations. The supplement that you are getting undergoes rigorous testing and multiple quality checks before it finally reaches your doorstep.
Watch out for the hologram: A sure way of making the distinction between a genuine and fake product is to examine the brand’s hologram. Not every company has the right technology to make and replicate the hologram as most fake supplements come from industries with very poor facilities. Worldwide, holograms are used as a sign of authenticity.
Look out for MRP sticker: Fake supplements usually have an MRP sticker pasted on them. Original supplements have an MRP tag, which have their hologram on it. Owing to the combination of MRP tag and Hologram, it would be easy to identify the product as original, when compared to a fake product that does not have both the tag and the hologram.
Dissolve and test in water: The supplement you have bought can be tested by dissolving a spoon of it in water at room temperature and stirred for a few seconds. If it is fake, the product will leave behind powder as residue in the glass. A genuine product would not. This may look like a very simple test, but it is very effective. Original supplements are smooth in texture whereas fake ones have an irregular texture and moreover, fake supplements have a pungent smell and a bad aftertaste.
Buy from reputable outlets: It’s advisable for consumers to purchase the supplements from reputable outlets, whether it’s a retail store or the Internet. A reputable retailer always takes necessary precautions to sell good quality.
In conclusion, it can be said that awareness about well-being and health is increasing amongst fitness enthusiasts who should consult experts to confirm whether they can maintain a particular supplement dietary regimen. This is crucial as the latter would be aware of the content of the supplements and advise whether it is right to consume them. Detecting the intensity of chemicals and steroids will help make the distinction between genuine and fake supplements. No one is barring anyone from becoming a fitness expert, what one is pointing to is the need to be intellectually aware of the potential sources of harm. It’s a major concern for all of us because it’s not only money wasted, but it also puts our health at risk. It has deeper physical and psychological effect too. Hence you should buy supplements from genuine dealers of reputed brands because investing in health is top priority.
Authored by Praveen Chirania, Founder, Muscle and Strength India, one of the country’s leading retailers of fitness supplements & nutritional products