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From the Townsend Letter
December 2007


Tests of "Muscle" Supplements Finds Some "Weak" Products But Most Contain Expected Creatine, HMB, or Amino Acids

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Review of Muscular Enhancement Supplements Published by

Bodybuilders and athletes often turn to supplements to enhance muscle size and strength. New tests of such supplements showed two products to contain little or no
creatine and an amino acid supplement unable to break apart as expected, the testing company reported today. The majority of products, however, met quality standards. The market for sports nutrition and supplement products has steadily grown to $2.2 billion in 2005, according to Nutrition Business Journal.

One of the most popular supplements for muscle enhancement is creatine, which has been shown to be useful in maintaining strength in repetitive, brief, high-intensity, sports activities. Creatine's popularity among athletes has spurred a variety of product forms other than traditional powders. found problems with creatine in liquid form -- likely due to poor stability. One liquid creatine was contaminated with the
breakdown compound called creatinine. In fact, nearly 30% of the product's "creatine proprietary complex" was creatinine, and only ten percent was creatine. Another liquid supplement claimed 6,000 mg of creatine per dose, but had none. It did contain 2.6 mcg of dicyandiamide per serving - a contaminant likely produced during creatine manufacture.

"There are high-quality products on the market, and there are pure rip-offs," commented Tod Cooperman, MD,'s President. "People considering muscle enhancement supplements should be realistic about the effectiveness of these products and skeptical of their contents unless verified by a third party."

Supplements made with other ingredients used in muscle enhancement - HMB
(hydroxy methylbutyrate), glutamine, and other amino acids, such as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) - were also tested. Problems were not found with HMB products, which may help increase muscle mass and strength with weight training. All glutamine products also passed. Glutamine supplementation may reduce the incidence of infection in athletes who are over-training, but there is conflicting evidence regarding its benefit in muscle work. Among products with mixed amino acids, tablets of one failed to break apart and release its contents within the expected time limit.

The new report is available at Brands included are Body Fortress, EAS, Eclipse Sports Supplements, Dymatize, Everlast, GNC, Iron-Tek, ISS, Muscle Marketing USA, MHP, MRM, Muscletech, Precision Engineered (US Nutrition), Puritan's Pride, SciFit, Six Star Body Fuel, TwinLab (Ideasphere), Universal Nutrition, Vitamin World, and Vitol. The report provides results for 22 supplements, of which selected 16. Six were tested at the request of their manufacturers/distributors through CL's Voluntary Certification Program and are included for having passed testing. Also listed are three products similar to ones that passed but sold under different brand names. Reviews of other popular types of supplements are also available at New reviews to be released in coming months cover alpha lipoic acid, eye health supplements (lutein and zeaxanthin), joint care supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM), multivitamins, probiotics, SAMe, and St. John's recently published the second edition of the acclaimed paperback,'s Guide to Buying Vitamins and Supplements: What's Really in the Bottle? It can be ordered through 800-431-1579. is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. The company is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products. is affiliated with, an evaluator of online pharmacies, and, which reviews and rates Medicare Part D plans. Subscription to is available online. For group subscriptions or product testing, contact Lisa Sabin, Vice President for Business Development, at


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December 2, 2007

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