The biggest health story you should be paying attention to has barely made a sound. 

The supplement industry — one that has estimated global sales of nearly 100 billion — just had its dirtiest secret uncovered (yet again) in the most dramatic of ways. 

The FDA cracked down on an astounding 859 supplement brands and declared a recall on all products produced by one manufacturer (ABH NATURE’S PRODUCTS, INC, ABH PHARMA, INC., and STOCKNUTRA.COM, INC.) between 2013-2019 for every brand implicated

Think about that for a moment. Several of the brands have listed revenues of more than $100 million per year. That thousands of products used over 7 years contained a health risk. 

The FDA stated that the wide-sweeping ban was the result of:

Manufacturing practices that are not inadequate control represent the possibility of risk being introduced into the manufacturing process resulting in finished supplement products with decreased identity, purity, strength and composition.

Not only were the products banned, but the US Department of Justice required the manufacturer and brands to destroy dietary supplements in their possession, custody, or control, as well as to implement several consumer safety measures before resuming the manufacturing or distributing of dietary supplements.

Today, millions of people are waking up realizing they have been putting something in their bodies that present a serious health threat. 

This is not the way health should be — and it’s not the way it has to be for supplement companies. 

Before you ever use a supplement again, it’s time to check your pantry and do the one thing that can help ensure your health is never at risk again. 

The Only Way To Know If Your Supplement Is Safe

For 10 years, supplement companies made enticing offers to have me formulate and endorse their products for added credibility. I’d earned a reputation as one of the most influential people in health, was called the king of health and fitness (by HuffPo), and considered one of the most trusted resources for information because of my hard-line on science, my willingness to call out famous people spreading bad information, admit when I was wrong. 

And, while I considered several different opportunities, I ultimately passed on every single one because they were all unwilling to do one thing…

Invest in having every product be NSF Certified for Sport®. 

This is the first line of defense for supplement safety, and it’s the one that almost every supplement company avoids. 

The NSF Certified for Sport® label is the closest thing in the supplement industry to earning respect and trust, and it’s backed by every professional sports organization. The standards you need to pass to receive the label are thorough and expensive. So, searching for the label an easy way to vet if companies are willing to spend extra to ensure your safety. 

Sadly, the majority do not. If you look at the number of supplement brands offered on Amazon alone (not all brands are listed there), less than 1% of the more than 100,000 brands are NSF Certified for Sport®.

Why such a small number?

The reason is simple, if not disturbing. Third-party verification is not required. Nothing is. The FDA governs the supplement industry, but regulations are surprisingly light. Most notably:

  • The FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.
  • The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe BEFORE they go to market.
  • If a serious problem associated with a dietary supplement occurs, manufacturers must report it to FDA as an adverse event.

Notice anything mysterious? The FDA takes no responsibility for the actions of supplement companies. In fact, they make it clear that it’s the responsibility of the manufacturer to self-report any problems.

And that’s why I refused the call of the supplement industry...until a special opportunity came around. 

Long before Ladder became a brand, I was asked to help formulate supplements for LeBron James. It was a project with no fanfare or awareness. Only my wife knew about it. It was something I would tell my kids one day; that their nerdy, science-loving old man personally helped the nutrition of one of the greatest athletes of all-time. 

That meant I was in control of the process and tasked with doing everything the way it should be done for supplements. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I loved every painstaking part of the process. This included:

  • Testing raw ingredients
  • Prioritizing Sourcing and quality
  • Making sure everything was backed by science (in humans, not lab rats)
  • And, most importantly, having every single batch tested and labeled NSF Certified for Sport®

If a product is NSF Certified for Sport®, it means a third-party has reviewed the label to make sure nothing is hiding in your product. It guarantees that:

  1. No banned substances
  2. No dangerous levels of toxins or metals
  3. No label inaccuracies.

At its core, NSF Certified for Sport® confirms supplement content, purity and compliance, and by assessing public safety and environmental concerns on products.

What Supplements Are Healthy?

If you ask me, it’s a trick question. To be healthy, an ingredient or supplement must be safe. So, any supplement that is NSF Certified for Sport® is healthy because a verified third-party has reviewed all the ingredients to ensure that nothing dangerous exists in the product. 

Naturally, this will come with a cost. When you price shop for supplements, the cheaper options will almost — undeniably — not be NSF Certified for Sport® because the certification is not inexpensive, but it’s a quality guarantee that is badly needed. 

It’s a question you must ask yourself: if you’re going to invest in a supplement, do you want a quality guarantee?

I’ll be the first to admit that supplements are not necessary. That might be surprising to hear from someone who formulates supplements, but it’s the truth. 

Quality supplements are designed for convenience and to give you the extra edge to push harder, fill gaps in your diet, and make it easier to be consistent with healthy behaviors that are hard to maintain day-after-day. That’s the backbone of our approach at Ladder.

No supplement will ever replace a healthy diet and routine exercise. But, great supplements can support and elevate a healthy lifestyle, and — oftentimes — be a practical way to help you make healthier choices when you need it most. [If you're curious about what works, the International Olympic Committee reviewed and approved a small list of supplements supported by research.]

At Ladder, we’ve chosen to ensure that every single product is NSF Certified for Sport®. 

Does NSF Certified for Sport® add to the price of our supplements? Of course. But, it also adds to the credibility, quality, and effectiveness of every product. And that’s what you’re buying, right? Not magic pills or fairy dust.

Are Ladder Supplements Higher Quality?

LeBron James and Arnold Schwarzenegger are the founders of Ladder. My responsibility — and that of the entire Ladder team — is to create the best supplements possible by focusing on ingredients that work and guaranteeing safety. 

At the end of the day, LeBron and Arnold took a hands-on approach to solve a major problem and help clean up a broken industry. The risk is greatest for them because if there is something wrong with the products there is nowhere for them to hide. 

But, that’s why we can be so confident and why LeBron can drink his Pre-Workout before workouts and games and recover with Plant Protein afterward. It’s why Arnold personally invested to have supplements manufactured the right way after seeing what happens throughout the rest of the industry. And it’s why players across dozens of NBA, NHL, and MLB teams love that they have a convenient way to mix more greens into their diet, without worrying about heavy metals. 

The supplement industry will continue to bend and break rules without your awareness. 

Many supplements are worthless, but there are several that are backed by science and can be used effectively to help you unlock the highest potential of your body and human performance. 

If you want to ensure that what you’re putting in your body is safe, start by looking for the NSF Certified for Sport® label. 

If enough people stop purchasing supplements that don’t invest in supplement safety, then it might trigger a movement that changes the way that all supplement brands manufacture their products. When that happens, the supplement industry can finally clean up its act and become a real resource that supports better health and higher performance.