Scientists at the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Agency (CVIA) in Karlsruhe used NMR to analyse 16 supplement products – most of which had been seized by German customs officers. Nine of the samples tested positive for DMAA, with the concentration ranging between 3.1-415g/kg.
“This work presents for the first time an NMR-based method with minimal sample preparation for determination of DMAA in sports nutrition and dietary supplements,” wrote the scientists in Drug Testing and Analysis.
The new method uses Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, a technology used widely by the food industry for analysing products such as snacks, wine and fruit juice. Over half of the seized products contained DMAA.
Dr Dirk Lachenmeier of the CVIA in Karlsruhe said the illegal supplements, usually in tablet or powder form, derive from outside the EU – probably Asia – to supply a black market of mostly gym enthusiasts who use DMAA as a pre-workout supplement.
“These are typically supplements intended for sportsmen and women and sports nutrition products – and especially those imported from outside the EU,” Dr Lachenmeier said.
The fact so many products contained DMAA demonstrates global bans have not stopped trade in the stimulant that was linked to many adverse events and deaths, including in the US military.
Working for the German government in its capacity as the official medicine and food control laboratory, the CVIA routinely tests all products that are likely to contain DMAA and other banned compounds.
Professional sportsmen and women have been prohibited from using DMAA since 2009 when it was included on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list.
After a lengthy investigation into its sourcing and safety by regulators around the world, it was largely banned in food supplements in food supplements in 2012.
Nevertheless, the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) has recorded 40 instances of unauthorised use of DMAA in food supplements since 2012.