Supplements are a big industry. With supplements, you can take care of your skin, mood, and heart health – all without ever setting foot in a doctor’s office.
And with the growing popularity of these products and the subsequent increase in their availability online and in stores, it is no wonder that many people are looking for information about them. But how do you know which supplements are safe? Here’s what we know about these popular products.
What Is A Supplement?
Supplements are food products that can’t be eaten by themselves. They need to be combined with another food product, usually a meal. In most cases, supplements are used as a substitute for a routine or to make up for the lack of a routine.
One example is if someone doesn’t eat breakfast in the morning, they might take a multivitamin as a supplement.
Supplements and Research
The FDA does not regulate supplements as drugs, so they do not need to undergo clinical trials or testing for safety and efficacy, which means that you don’t know what is in them—or how they will react with other ingredients.
Despite this lack of regulation, supplements are still a multibillion-dollar industry with claims to help everything from weight loss and muscle gain to relief from chronic pain and anxiety.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that there can be major health risks associated with taking supplements without medical supervision. Supplements may interact with what is already in your body, causing long-term or even short-term damage. The NIH also says that some supplements can cause adverse events like liver injury, kidney failure, and stomach ulcers.
Supplements and the FDA
The FDA regulates supplements in order to make sure that they are safe for people to consume.
The FDA has the responsibility of ensuring safety, but this doesn’t mean that all supplements are safe. The FDA does not test or approve supplements before they are distributed to stores, so it’s important to research any products you’re considering taking.
One way you can ensure the safety of your supplements is by looking for products that have been certified by NSF International. NSF International has a certification called “GMP” that indicates the product has met certain quality and purity standards. Supplements with this certification will have a label on them saying so.
Resources for finding safe supplements
There is an estimated $1.25 billion in revenue for 2016 alone, and that number is expected to grow by 10 percent this year with the growing popularity of these products and the subsequent increase in their availability online and in stores.
There are a few resources you can use to locate more information about supplements. The ConsumerLab website provides reviews of various supplements on the market today. They also provide research studies on the efficacy of supplements that evaluate how well they work after taking them over a period of time.
Another resource is PubMed, an online database that contains millions of medical journal articles from around the world since 1948 on different topics related to health and disease prevention. This link allows you to search for any supplement-related research study published in a peer-reviewed medical journal article.
Finally, WebMD provides information on some commonly used supplements like Vitamin D or fish oil pills as well as others not so frequently discussed like L-Tryptophan or Chondroitin Sulfate. These pages offer general information about each supplement, including dosages, precautions, side effects, interactions.
No, not all supplements are made equal. You need to be mindful of the supplements you take, but the research on supplements is actually solid. Supplements are regulated by the FDA, which means that you can trust that if it’s on the market, it’s been vetted.
You do need to be mindful of how much of a certain ingredient you put into your body and make sure to be aware of your own tolerance levels. But if you’re looking for some guidance on how to find safe supplements, there are plenty of resources out there. As always, make sure you do your research before taking anything new or different.