Many men, women and children today take dietary supplements. Vitamins are not the only thing they take. Many take minerals, herbs, amino acids, probiotics and enzymes. Popular supplements are vitamin D, B12 and minerals are just a few to name. Dietary supplements come in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, gummies, and powders as well as drinks and energy bars.
Because our food isn’t what it used to be, dietary supplements have become very popular and a convenient way to support our nutritional needs. Unfortunately not all supplements are created equal. Usually in the supplement industry you do get what you pay for. If it is cheap then the materials used are usually not the best. Because of this it is important to be aware of the potential concerns associated with these products. The top three reasons for concerns with dietary supplements: safety, effectiveness, and quality. Understanding these concerns will empower consumers to make better choices when choosing and using dietary supplements.
Safety is a paramount concern when it comes to dietary supplements. While many supplements are generally safe when used as directed, there are instances where safety issues arise. Some things to think about:
Unlike prescription drugs, dietary supplements are not subject to the same stringent testing and approval process by regulatory authorities. This can lead to inconsistencies in product quality and potential risks associated with untested ingredients. In fact many products have had independent testing and they found that they didn’t have the potency that was listed on the label and some didn’t even have the ingredients they were claiming to have.
Adverse reactions and interactions: Certain dietary supplements may interact with medications or have adverse effects on individuals with specific health conditions. Taking any supplements in high doses can have adverse effects. For example, too much vitamin A can cause liver damage. It’s important to follow the directions. Also it is important to look at the contraindications if you are on any medications or having any medical procedure. Things like vitamin E, Omegas and more can thin blood. Always let your doctor know any supplements you may be using. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure safety.
Contamination and adulteration in supplements is a huge problem. In some cases, dietary supplements have been found to be contaminated with harmful substances or adulterated with undisclosed ingredients. These undisclosed ingredients can affect a formulation in a formulation in one way or another. This highlights the importance of purchasing supplements from reputable manufacturers and ensuring third-party testing for quality and purity.
Effectiveness is another significant concern when it comes to dietary supplements. While some supplements have demonstrated efficacy in scientific studies, others may lack sufficient evidence to support their claimed benefits.
The raw materials that are used when putting a product together is very important. When buying raw materials, you can get an ingredient that the price ranges from $90-900 dollars. Manufacturers that focus on price only can’t guarantee that the product that you receive will the efficacy you are looking for. So pay attention to that.
The placebo effect can play a significant role in perceived benefits from dietary supplements. It is essential to critically evaluate the available evidence and consider placebo-controlled studies to determine the true effectiveness of a supplement. Fortunately there is so much ongoing science to support many ingredients, so when putting together any product you want to make sure you are using things that have research to support it.
Individual variability: The effectiveness of dietary supplements can vary from person to person due to factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and overall health. What works for one individual may not necessarily work for another.
Ensuring the quality of dietary supplements is crucial for both safety and effectiveness. Unfortunately, not all supplements on the market meet the necessary quality standards. Key points to consider include:
Manufacturing practices: Some supplement manufacturers may not adhere to good manufacturing practices (GMPs), leading to inconsistencies in product quality and potency. Look for supplements that are manufactured by reputable companies that follow GMP guidelines.
Ingredient accuracy: Quality concerns can arise when supplements contain inaccurate or misleading ingredient labels. This can lead to potential health risks or ineffective products. Third-party testing and certifications can help ensure the accuracy of ingredient claims.
Product storage and expiration: Improper storage or expired supplements can compromise their quality and effectiveness. It is essential to store supplements according to the manufacturer’s instructions and check expiration dates before use.
While dietary supplements can be beneficial, it is crucial to be aware of the concerns surrounding their safety, effectiveness, and quality. By understanding these concerns and taking necessary precautions, consumers can make informed decisions and choose high-quality supplements that align with their health goals. Consulting with healthcare professionals and conducting thorough research are essential steps in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements.
Michelle LeSueur BeP, CNC, CSN, CNS, CPT