Did you know 77% of Americans report taking dietary supplements? You or somebody you know takes a supplement every day which may or may not be necessary. A few reasons we spend something like 35 billion on vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and other substances are to make up for missing nutrients and to give ourselves an extra health boost. We think dietary supplements will help us from getting sick.
I have a whole food first approach to staying healthy but sometimes dietary supplements are acceptable when requirements not being met through the diet alone. I want to help you cut through the confusion and choose the appropriate supplement and avoid spending your money on supplements that do not work.
Here are 8 tips on choosing the right supplement:
- Always check with a registered dietitian nutritionist, doctor, or pharmacist before using a supplement. ALWAYS.
- Take a look at what foods you are eating. Supplements are not meant to replace eating healthy food.
- “Natural” ingredients do not mean a product is safe. Some products may interact with medications and other supplements and cause serious adverse effects. Carefully read the supplement label, follow directions, and pay attention to warnings.
- If you are an athlete, some supplements may contain ingredients, not declared on the label, that can cause you to test positive for banned substances.
- Buy supplements from a reputable source. Supplements are not regulated; therefore, you want to purchase supplements from respected companies who are able to demonstrate that the product passes tests for content, potency, purity, and uniformity.
- Look for third-party verification on the bottle. Many supplements are certified by USP (the U.S. Pharmacopeia Convention) or NSF International, third party organizations that conduct testing on supplements to determine if what is on the label is actually in the bottle, and that the product does not contain high levels of contaminants, such as heavy metals. These credentials are on the label. However, it is expensive and not all companies can afford the verification services.
- Be aware if the health claims for the product sound too good to be true. More than likely it is.
- Choose organic herbal supplements. Many herbal supplements will not have third party verification. Organic herbal supplements are lower in harmful pesticides. Purchasing herbal supplements from large, well-known companies increases the chance the supplement contains the appropriate amount of the active ingredient.
The 3 categories of supplements with the most dangerous ingredients are:
- Supplements for weight loss
- Sexual enhancement
Check out these websites for additional information: