Moguls on the Powder Run!
Protein is extremely important. It helps your body build muscle, repair issue, and creates important hormones and enzymes. While every person is different and may require different amounts of protein, one thing is for sure— we all need it. To make it easier to get protein, many consumers turn to protein supplements. But, do you know where these powders or products are coming from? The D2D team took a deeper look at some protein supplements—here is what we learned…
Protein is essential
But how much protein do we need?
A quick refresher: you may recall, the suggested protein intake for the average active woman is roughly 70 grams per day, and for the average active man about 95 grams per day. Not so hard to come by as this illustration shows…
Consumers on the go…
There are three primary sources of protein in supplements
Vegan protein is a plant based supplement that derives from various plant and nut protein sources. One of the most popular forms of plant based protein is pea protein. These products can also include protein from nut sources. This is a non-dairy source of protein. In this case, most suppliers combine pea and rice protein powder and then add some additional amino acids in order for the product to be considered a complete protein.
Soy protein is made from soy beans. When these beans are processed to make a protein supplement they are de-hulled and de-fatted. Soy protein concentrate typically contains 60-70% protein as beans usually require grains, nuts, and other sources of protein to be considered a complete protein.
Product regulations vary between countries
The problem with a lot of the brands on the market today is the ingredients come from all over the world. That is not always a bad thing, but that does mean that they could be subjected to different regulation.
The problem with a lot of the brands on the market today is the ingredients come from all over the world. That is not always a bad thing, but that does mean that they could be subjected to different regulations. For example, some products can say “Made in the USA” because that is where the protein powder is mixed and created for production, but specific ingredients are often sourced from other countries that may or may not have production standards for supplement products. For example, if you typically look for organically produced products, you might not be thrilled to find out that a label can say “organic,” but it doesn’t necessarily mean it was grown in the United States on our organic soil. It can be grown in China or a foreign country and still be considered “organic.”
The D2D Supplement Inquiry
The D2D team took a field trip to a national protein supplement provider and purchased the top three selling protein powders
The D2D team visited a national (and very popular) protein supplement provider and inquired what the most popular brands were for each category: vegan, soy, and whey. We purchased the most popular protein supplements in each of these categories. We reviewed the ingredients for each and contacted the product manufacturer to fill in any missing pieces of information. (And let us first tell you, while all three companies were very accommodating, if you did not have the education or knowledge as to what questions to ask, the answers were not easily provided.)
And lastly, the whey protein manufacturer confirmed, “the milk used in Whey is from the United States and the MBP (milk basic protein) is from Japan.”
After receiving these responses, we asked Victoria Zupa, ND, a licensed Naturopathic Physician who confirmed that the information provided was particularly vague and we were right be be concerned! Dr. Zupa then educated us as to what questions to ask and how to ask them to receive the correct information from a specific company.
Arsenic: EPA set 10 ppb as the allowable level for arsenic in drinking water
Cadmium: FDA set maximum limit of cadmium in bottled water as 0.005ppm
Lead: EPA set allowable level for lead in drinking water as 0.015ppm
Mercury: EPA set allowable level for mercury in drinking water as .002ppm
It is true your body knows how to process and eliminate toxic substances in small amounts. Trace amounts of lead, barium, mercury, arsenic, and other metals do end up in our food. As acknowledged by the WHO, most foods contain trace levels of barium! And you are probably thinking that 2.27ppm of barium is relatively small. But if you are taking protein supplements every day, these substances can build up in your system.
Wouldn’t you rather be eating a delicious egg omelet or a juicy piece of chicken – both of which don’t contain metals?
(For more on these metals and the trace or toxic levels that can be found in your food, please visit the World Health Organization.)
The Bottom Line:
We want to emphasize that we do not want you to walk away from this review feeling like all protein supplements are poisonous! That is not the case, and certainly we want to assume that protein supplement manufacturers are in good faith producing a safe, clean product. However, our deep dive into this product category has raised some skepticism on ingredient sourcing. We also want to emphasize that the best source for protein lies in your chicken or egg sandwich, not a pill, powder or tablet.
“Barium.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Mar. 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.
“Barium in Drinking-water.” WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality. World Health Organization , 2004. Web.
“Consumer Updates – FDA 101: Dietary Supplements.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration . Office of the Commissioner, 25 July 2015. Web. 10 May 2017.
“Environmental Health and Medicine Education.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d. Web. 10 May 2017. <https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=6&po=7>.
Freedman, Lisa. “Whey Protein.” Men’s Fitness. Men’s Fitness, 24 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 May 2017.
“National Primary Drinking Water Regulations.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 21 Mar. 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.