GNC and Vitamin Shoppe: Controversy of Bodybuilding drugs

As we all know, GNC (General Nutrition Center) and Vitamin Shoppe are two of the largest over the counter supplemental manufacturers and carriers; but some of us may not know that they are being targeted by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) since they began carrying something called DMAA (DMAA is found in Geranium oil, which is found in flowers). (Lahart) The bodybuilding world is always looking for new and improved products to create high adrenaline, intensity, and energy. Most people that come to GNC are searching for something to either get them bigger with muscle mass or smaller to look more chiseled and defined. The DMAA ingredient can do both of those, its that type of uniqueness that will separate it from other drugs by spiking up the energy and adrenaline through the roof whilst narrowing your blood vessels and increasing the blood flow to the muscles. And it has helped GNC and Vitamin Shoppes stocks skyrocket.

The issue comes in the fact of natural occurrence. GNC and Vitamin Shoppe are claiming that DMAA  (1,3-Dimethylamylamine- also meaning Geranamine) is a naturally occurring substance that is found in a Geranium oil in a flower base. (Lahart) The FDA is cracking down on GNC and Vitamin Shoppe for carrying the suppliers (such as USPlabs, Muscletech, Cellucor, and etc.) that have no evidence that it is a safe product and that it is actually found in flowers. (Lahart) USPlabs went out of there way to create a website saying that DMAA is safe and naturally made (the website can be found at I know that it might not sound like a big deal, but you need to understand that if a dietary supplemental is not found to be created naturally, the FDA can say that it needs their approval since it is a ‘pre-market product’ and not a dietary ingredient. Once that takes place they can take over that product and recall it from all shelves in the nation since it is a ‘pre-market product.’

The FDA did research in four different labs (3- domestic and 1-international) and found no traces of DMAA in multiple samples of Geranium oil. (Lahart) A lot of the suppliers that GNC and Vitamin Shoppe are carrying have rebelled against the FDA by providing their own research taken from their labs.  But for now, the FDA is just frowning on the product (which I have to say to most of my customers at GNC if there hesitant on getting one of the awesome products that carry DMAA).  Unfortunately, I feel that most products that still carry DMAA at GNC or Vitamin Shoppe (Especially at my GNC store) are in the decline period of of the product life cycle. I don’t believe that it’s in its decline because it can’t offer the organization anything anymore, but the FDA is pressing down so hard on any DMAA products that it’s getting harder to carry them with all the rules and regulations.(Operation’s Management textbook, CH. 5 Figure 2.5) (PPT Ch.5 Slide 11)

Do you think the FDA is doing right by pressing down on an active ingredient just because they suppliers cant claim that it is naturally made? Would you take a product that wasn’t naturally made? Even if it is not naturally made, do you think it should still be on the market and not taken off like ephedrine and steroids were? Do you agree with the fact that it should be kept on the market and that it should be left up to the people to take it or not? Is GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and the FDA being ethical and moral about this issue?

7 thoughts on “GNC and Vitamin Shoppe: Controversy of Bodybuilding drugs

  1. I believe that the decisions made by the FDA need to be taken seriously because serious studies of the effects need to be taken into account before the general public is allowed to use the drug. Moreover, when an ingredient is claimed to be naturally made, it is usually accepted as healthy by the general public. In this case, more people are willing to ingest the ingredient and if there was a problem with it many people could be seriously ill. Personally, I have no problem taking products that are not naturally made, but there has to be enough evidence that despite being unnatural, they are still healthy and safe.

  2. I agree. People always think that since something is naturally made it is healthy, but we also need to know if it is FDA approved. I personally don’t like taking any sort of medication that is not FDA approved or has been tested. Many times there are products that say they are 100% natural but in the end those are the products that can make you prone to illness. I don’t think that this product should be kept in the market because there are no studies stating that this drug is good for us.

  3. I think that it is important for the FDA to inform the public if the product(s) are natural or not and the know or unknown safety levels of the product. I, however, do not have a problem with the product being sold whatever the outcome of those test are. As long as the people consuming the product are informed on what it truly is and the consumption does not put those around them in danger they should be able to make the call on what goes into their body, not the FDA.

  4. I do not believe that another product like this should be released to the public. There are already enough diet pills and muscle enhancers that are sold and although many companies claim that their product is natural does not automatically make it healthy. Hydroxycut was released to the market before it got FDA approval. It is a dietary supplement which lead to many liver ailments including the death of a teenager. It still can currently be purchased at any Vitamin Shoppe or GNC. Hydroxycut curbs your appetite and causes your adrenaline to go through the roof. This product is dangerous for your body, it causes your heart to race and makes you sweat like you have been working out for hours and people continue to take it. Moreover, on the behalf of DMAA, I believe that the FDA should be hesitant to approve it. People will still buy DMAA because people want the results they want to see and go to any cost to get it with or without FDA approval. The FDA approval would benefit the creators of DMAA, but it would also encourage other users to try a potentially dangerous product.

  5. I think I have a unique perspective on this topic being a former GNC employee as well as a lifestyle that revolves around putting my health and body first. First its important to realize that a lot of people who use these supplements, shouldn’t, many are looking for shortcuts to achieve muscle growth and definition, and the simple answer is that these products only produce short term gains, long term results are achieved through dedication and persistence over months and years. I think its important for the FDA to study these products and the effects they have on the human body, especially the toxicity they can have on your liver, like anything else, these products are relatively new and have not been studied for long term effects. The simple answer is that until the effects of these products have been studied in depth, it is the publics best interest for these products to not be available. As far as the product life cycle goes, I would agree that these products are in decline, and would not be surprised to see them pulled from the market in the near future.

  6. In my opinion I would say that the FDA is doing the right thing in confronting these labs about the distribution of an active ingredient in products, sold at shops like the Vitamin Shoppe and GNC, that could potentially not be all natural. Currently, society as a whole consumes so many things, whether they be supplements, foods, prescription medicines, etc that are not exactly 100% naturally produced. In all phases of the development of a product there is bound to be an unnatural ingredient that is added that would result in the final product. It is up to the FDA, to be the last defense against the introduction of potentially harmful products into the market. I would personally not consume a supplemental product that was not naturally made because of the unknown or unlikely effects that would result from the use of the product. Since this product has already been introduced into the market, it would be unproductive for both distributors, such as Vitamin Shoppe and GNC to recall all their product. This could even escalate to the FDA requiring that these laboratories and distributors to recall all products that are “unnatural”.

  7. I think that a lot of people are under false impressions about GNC and VitaminShoppe. People seem to think because they are health and wellness type of stores and because they sell vitamins and similar products that they are automatically safe to use. Lots of people dont know that these stores usually arent regulate by the FDA because they are natural products. Since they are not regulated, then there is really no authoritative figure watching over them. People also think that just because something is natural that it is safe. However, there are lots of examples that are not true. Minor example include poison ivy and poison oak. There are obviously natural but nat entirely safe. There are poisonous natural plants out there and more extreme examples are some drugs. Another factor is the fact that sometimes in the bodybuilding or exercising community, many people will take a supplement or product knowing that is isnt very healthy as long as it produces results. This product is sort of twice affected twice because of its nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *