3 Questions to Ask About Supplements
As part of any health regimen, supplements (i.e. vitamins, minerals, probiotic, herbal treatment, etc.) can be a factor in improving your overall health. Yet, due to less regulation, than let’s say prescribed drugs, supplements do require research before purchasing. Here are 3 questions a fitness consumer needs to ask when considering supplements:
1. Has the supplement triggered any health warnings or sanctions?
You’re going to want to begin with searching for their product and its maker on the FDA website. The FDA does maintain a list of all recent recalls and market withdrawals. You will also want to research the individual ingredients. A good resource for this information is Consumer Reports which compiled a list of what is called the “the dirty dozen.” The 12 ingredients listed are still available over-the-shelf, but they can cause adverse health effects.
2. Has the supplement been tested by independent labs?
A handful of private, independent non-profit organizations have taken the initiative to assist with providing independent information related to dietary supplements. Two of these organizations randomly test dietary supplements and publically report their results: ConsumerLab.com and LabDoor.com. The results of their general review are available for free. If you want to see the full results, they are available to paid members.
3. Is the supplement too good to be true, and is there evidence it delivers what it promises?
This is an important one! We’ve all seen the commercials advertising about miraculous health results after a consumer purchases their product. Overzealous claims are red flags. It is prohibited to making unfounded health claims this is why these type of over-the-top advertising supplements don’t use language as “cures disease.” Be cautious of manufacturers who offer money-back guarantees. Such guarantees are usually riddled with fraud, and getting your money back may be extremely difficult.
So how do you find out if a supplement works or not? NIH (National Institutes of Health) fact sheet is a good place to begin. The fact sheet discloses how each vitamin, and mineral reacts in the body, and scientific evidence behind its health impacts. Another good resource to find out evidence about various supplements is the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus. If you want to be a supplemental nerd and its benefits, you can explore the Library of Medicine’s PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset. Their database includes scientific literature on vitamins, minerals, phytochemical, ergogenic, botanical, traditional Chines medicine, and herbal supplements.
Testimonials can also be helpful in providing evidence on a supplement’s results, but take them with a grain of salt. Some testimonials can be fake, well others, although factual do not disclose they are not experiencing any current negative health condition before taking the supplement (i.e. heart & respiratory problems, liver issues, diseases, medication, etc.).
Supplements can improve, and help you remain on a track with a healthy lifestyle. Yet, do your homework before investing your money in such products. You may also want to consult a dietitian. If you already have a healthy diet, you may not need certain supplements as you’re already consuming the recommended dietary allowances. If you have need for further help with this, you can contact us.