BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Advanced Nutritional Innovation Discontinue Health Benefits Claims for ‘ionDEFENDER’ Dietary Supplement

New York, NY – June 7,  2016 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Advanced Nutritional Innovation, Inc., modify or discontinue a wide range of claims made in Internet advertising for the company’s ionDEFENDER dietary supplement.

The claims at issue were challenged before NAD by the Council for Responsible Nutrition as part of an initiative designed to expand NAD’s review of advertising claims for dietary supplements. NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

NAD reviewed claims that included:

  •  “Protect the body against damaging radiation!”
  • “ionDEFENDER provides protection by dramatically boosting the body’s powerful natural protection.”
  • “It provides protection for: people living in areas contaminated by nuclear disasters, meltdowns, and leaks; airline pilots and crew exposed to high energy cosmic radiation and solar radiation; people concerned about exposure to microwave radiation (WiFi/cellphone).”

The advertiser asserted that ionDEFENDER supplements elevate superoxide dismutase (SOD) antioxidant levels in the body.  The advertiser argued that it believed that increasing SOD levels with oral supplements increases cells antioxidant capacity, protecting the body from damaging ionizing radiation and a variety of undesirable health conditions.

The advertiser provided no evidence addressing SOD supplementation effects on illness or damage caused by nuclear disasters, cosmic radiation or non-ionizing radiation and stated in its submission that it possessed only anecdotal evidence regarding SOD effects on hangovers.   Both the Federal Trade Commission and NAD have held that anecdotes fail to rise to the level of competent and reliable scientific evidence.

NAD noted that while many of the review articles submitted by the advertiser held out hope for identifying therapeutic uses for antioxidant enzymes, “it is clear that, on this record, scientific consensus for the ‘protect your body’ benefits of SOD supplementation is absent.”

NAD determined that the advertiser’s medical literature reviews and in vitro and animal studies failed to provide a reasonable basis for any of the advertiser’s damage/disease protection, aging, radiation and hangover claims.

The advertiser provided abstracts of two antioxidant blood tests conducted with the proprietary ingredient in ionDEFENDER. NAD was concerned, however, that the studies were flawed, that only abstracts were available and that the clinical endpoints did not match the advertiser’s health-related performance claims. NAD determined that the studies failed to rise to the level of competent and reliable evidence necessary to support the advertiser’s claims.

Further, because the advertiser’s in vitro, animal studies and medical literature reviews failed to demonstrate a consensus on the health benefits of SOD supplementation generally,   NAD determined that the totality of the advertiser’s evidence was insufficient to provide a reasonable basis for the advertiser’s health-related claims.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that the advertiser had provided a reasonable basis for its claim that “SOD plays the primary role, transforming the most dangerous free radicals, the superoxide radicals, into ions that are less reactive. These are further are transformed by Catalase and glutathione peroxidase,” as it is simply descriptive of mechanism of actions of these antioxidants.

NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue the remaining challenged claims.

Advanced Nutritional Innovation, in its advertiser’s statement, said that the company “continues to believe that ionDEFENDER offers significant benefits, we stopped advertising as soon as this issue was raised, and we agree to comply with NAD’s recommendations for any future ionDEFENDER advertising.”

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.