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Are the health products you're buying backed by evidence?

There is an abundance of functional foods, dietary supplements, herbal remedies, and ingredients with medicinal properties on the market. With the surplus of option, it can become confusing to know which products are authentic and will work, compared to those products that are making false claims.

So, lets break down the difference between products you can trust, and those you might not.

Food Products:

Food products contain a nutrition panel on the label. This will detail the energy, protein, fat, and carbohydrate content of the food product. Foods (including those that make health claims) are regulated at state and territory level by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Just because a product has health claims, comes in a capsule, powder, or is labelled as a dietary supplement, does not make it a therapeutic good. Health claims on food products are related to nutrients and are not specific to conditions.

Listed Products

Listed products have an Australian Listed product number (AUST L) and are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA).

Listed products provide health indications for conditions and have evidence of therapeutic use at specific dosages behind them.

Therapeutic goods are defined as products for use in humans in connection with:

    • preventing, diagnosing, curing or alleviating disease, ailment, defect, or injury
    • influencing, inhibiting or modifying a physiological process.
    • testing the susceptibility of persons to a disease of ailment
    • influencing, controlling or preventing conception
    • testing for pregnancy

An example of a listed product is Nature’s Sunshine Cinnamon 1500+ which contains:

Herbal extract equivalent to dry:

            Cinnamomum cassia (Cinnamon) extract equiv. to dry stem bark 1.5g (1500mg)

            Chromium Picolinate 140mcg equivalent to 15mcg Chromium

Tips for telling the difference: 

Food product:

  • Nutrition panel
  • No quantities of each ingredients in the ingredients list
  • Not always tablets or capsules
  • Claims based on nutrients
  • No evidence for specific conditions

Benefits of a Listed product:

  • AUST L – usually on the front of the package
  • Tablet, capsule, powder, liquid, cream
  • The quantity of ingredients is listed
  • Indications for treatment of conditions
  • Evidence for the therapeutic use for specific condition

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