the science of nutrition

What is the Difference Between a Study and a Consumer Test? Why is the Difference so Important?

Aletta Mayorga MS, RD

Table of contents

  • Intro
  • Needed Labs Study
  • How do I know what kind of study a brand is referencing in their marketing?
  • The Bottom Line

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Intro

Navigating the vast sea of health information can often feel overwhelming. In an age where a quick Google search yields millions of results and everyone seems to be an expert, what the data or studies are actually saying, and deciphering what is fact and what is fiction can be a daunting task. Being a science backed brand, Needed advocates for higher standards in the supplement industry. This extends beyond our product and goes to the very core of who we are and how we show up.

In that spirit, we take how we show up seriously. We are authentic and intentional.

We set up Needed Labs to take a meaningful step toward advocating for better perinatal research. 

Needed Labs Study

We recently launched our first and foundational research study that is currently enrolling pregnant women to help shape our understanding of nutrient status during pregnancy.

As we move forward with our study, we wanted to clear up some definitions: because those differences affect the reliability of the results and how we are able to use that data.

Our study is classified as an observational, cross-sectional research study. These types of studies help shape our understanding of important issues, in our case nutrient levels during pregnancy. Our study, in line with best practices, is governed by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and listed on ClinicalTrials.gov.

A clinical trial is a type of clinical study as well, but these utilize an intervention with a goal to measure the effect of a specific substance against a control group that does not receive the intervention treatment. These are the types of studies we refer to when we talk about ingredients that are clinically studied. There are very specific requirements for clinical trials to ensure safety of participants and proper data hygiene. Clinical trials are also governed by an IRB and listed on ClinicalTrials.gov.

More from the NIH here.

In-Home Use Tests (iHUT) are tests that brands choose to undertake to evaluate their products. These are different from a clinical study as there is no IRB or listing requirement. Since they involve a commercial product, they are used to gather feedback on what a consumer could purchase on their own, but might receive for free as part of such a test. An iHUT evaluates product performance as potential customers use it in a natural setting or targeted environment.

iHUTs can be very informative but they are not clinical studies, nor would a brand be able to call a product “clinically-studied” after an iHUT. Unfortunately, we often see confusion here and brands incorrectly referencing the results of a iHUT as clinical research.

How do I know what kind of study a brand is referencing in their marketing? 

Brands that play by the rules have to declare their source for data. If clinically proven or clinically tested claims are made, there should be information on the research study, clinical trial, or publication.

Talk to the brand and if they truly put in the effort to undertake a clinical or research study, they will no doubt be vocal about sharing! We know we are very excited to share ours.

The Bottom Line

Prioritize evidence-based practices over fads or anecdotal evidence. Sustainable health outcomes are built on solid foundations, not fleeting trends or quick fixes. 

Remember, knowledge is power, but discernment is key. By honing our ability to sift through the noise and discern fact from fiction, we can empower ourselves to make informed choices that support our health and well-being in the long run.

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Aletta Mayorga MS, RD, Head of R&D

Aletta Mayorga MS, RD is Needed's Head of R&D.