Updated: Aug 6, 2019
One of the most common questions I get from patients is that should I take supplements? Supplements industry faces lots of controversies and lacks proper regulations causing confusion and poor outcome! So how can an average patient know that they need vitamins, what kinds of vitamins and supplements they need and also which company to choose to buy their products?
As the name indicates, supplements are not food replacement; it is merely supplement and needs to complement our diet not replace it. In an ideal world, our food supply should provide all the macro and micronutrient that we need. However, there are indications that our food supply may lack certain nutrients, therefore leaving us deficient of important nutrients. Other lifestyle factors such as consuming specific pharmaceutical medication also may interfere with nutrient absorption of particular vitamins and or minerals.
The common reasons that we don't see the benefits of the vitamins are:
1- The products don't contain what it claims.
2- There are filler and other substances that alter the effectiveness of the products. ( Adulteration)
3- That particular product is not what a patient need.
4- There are other medications and substances that decrease the effectiveness of the supplement.
5- Some products need other minerals and vitamins for absorption.
It is essential to know that not all supplements are created equal. One easy way to evaluate a product is by reading the labels.
Although there is not enough regulation by FDA to evaluate products, there are third-party verification labs that do investigate the composition, purity, potency, and bio-availability of supplements.
Presence of the following labels on the bottle indicates higher quality of the supplements.
1- GMP; Good manufacturing practices, www.nnfa.org is a trade group that Verifies traceable process and test for quality and contaminants.
2-NSF label is a non-profit public health organization which also test the products they work closely with GMP, www.nfsconsumer.org/food/dietary_supplements
3-USP performs testing on contamination ( adulteration) and good manufacturing process. www.uspverified.org
4-Consumerlab evaluate commercially available dietary supplements products. www. Consumerlabs.com
These are great resources to check a product before purchasing a supplement.
In my next article, I will discuss how to read labels and to interpret the product labels. I hope this guide can help you choose better on your next supplement purchase!