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November 13, 2019

The Truth About Dietary Supplements

The Truth About Dietary Supplements

The 6 Questions You Must Ask Yourself

The “truth” about supplements is difficult for the consumer to uncover because we have a tendency to read the bottle and believe everything we read. After all, “someone” has to be regulating this stuff or they wouldn’t even be able to sell it! Right? Not necessarily true.

spoon with dietary supplements on fruits background

Dietary supplements do NOT need approval from the FDA before they are marketed. It’s interesting that a vegetable in its purest form has to be approved by the FDA for human consumption, yet a dietary supplement that is concocted with minerals, herbs, botanicals, enzymes, organ tissue, glandular tissue and metabolites can be marketed for human consumption if the manufacturer of that product deems it to be safe and effective. Why would the manufacturer tell you otherwise?

The truth is that the FDA has the responsibility of proving a supplement is unsafe before they can restrict the products use or removal from the marketplace.

• A product is deemed unsafe after a certain amount of adverse events or reactions are reported to the FDA by people taking the products. Adverse events can include diarrhea, hair loss, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes, and everything in between. Some of the “effects” aren’t detected for years after consuming such products.

• They don’t list the possible side effects because they don’t take a proactive approach to ensuring a supplement is “safe” before they market it and sell it. Furthermore, the FDA doesn’t have the resources to analyze every supplement that is marketed to determine if the “Supplement Facts” section on the label is accurate and safe, or if the contents listed on the label match what’s actually in the supplement.

So how do you pick out dietary supplements?

Try to avoid supplements with long ingredient lists and/or that say “Proprietary Blend.” The best choice is to choose a supplement that has had a 3rd party certification. These are some of the companies that provide 3rd party audits on supplements.

These stamps indicate quality of product, however they do not determine if the product will be effective for you. For effectiveness you want to contact a medical professional who is knowledgeable about dietary supplements like a Dietitian, Pharmacist, Doctor, etc.

Ask yourself 6 questions before choosing supplements

1. Is it 3rd party certified?

2. ≤ 5 Ingredients (except gelatin, color additives and dyes?)

3. No ingredients listed as “blends,” “proprietary blends” or “delivery systems” on the label?

4. Total amount of caffeine indicated? ≤ 200 mg/serving/day?

5. Can pronounce names of all ingredients & does my diet need supplementation?

6. All ingredients with DV established and DV nutrients ≤ 200% (except fish oil, glucosamine)?

Mark a “1” for yes and “0” for no. A score ≥ 4 suggests the supplement may be okay. The bottom line is that you can fuel your system with food.

Written By: Jess Wegener, RD, CSSD, LMNT, Registered Sports Dietitian

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