Garlic's Strength is its Bouquet

Topics: Vitamins and Supplements

Something Amiss in the Garlic. Supplements can be a wild, wooly world. Their claims are sometimes outrageous; the FDA has little real authority to regulate the companies which produce and manufacture them; the FTC is a more capable enforcer of the rules and regulations to which companies must adhere.

Caveat emptor. And when you buy garlic, look for tight heads, with cloves smooth underneath a white or purple surface, no sprouting or softness, and a huge bouquet of allicin when you crush a clove — with a knife, a press or your teeth.

Look, it took a criminal indictment to get Metabolife to cough up the 14,000 reports it had accumulated (though not legally required to accumulate them) of something amiss with ephedra-caffeine combinations.

And now comes garlic.

To no one’s surprise, some contain a lot of allicin, some a little, and it’s really hard to tell which is which.

Unless you use food as medicine. In this case, one fresh clove a day (how big a clove?), and don’t kiss me goodnight. Or, kiss me extra, good night. Lover’s choice.

Here’s what we know about what’s in the bottles:

The best vitamin and mineral program is from USP. Look for it on the label of your vitamins and minerals. While it doesn’t verify efficacy and safety — no group does, or can — its seal of approval does reflect tested contents; a lack of contaminants, including heavy metals and pesticides; and actual dissolution. Its Dietary Supplement Verification Program (DSVP) and seal should be every bit as good.

If the bottle says �NSF”, which should appear on approximately 60 products by the end of 2002, it has been manufactured using good manufactured practices, and contains what it says it does, and is free of �common contaminants.� Dissolution is apparently not tested. See www.NSF.org for its certification list.

USP, NSF and ConsumerLab.com charge manufacturers for testing, though Consumerlab.com tests some products for free, while charging for others, and for all who wants to use their seal.

Interestingly, the products they test for free require a paid subscription from the consumer; the products posted are from companies which paid for the tests.