How to Determine if a Supplement is Right for You

A doctor consults with a patient to determine is a supplement is right.

According to a Harris poll, 86 percent of Americans take vitamins or supplements. From our experience, most do so with little concern. They read somewhere that a certain supplement cures all sorts of health conditions, so they rush out to buy it. Then they start popping pills in hopes for the best outcome. The fact is, supplements have risks, along with rewards. Another little-known fact is that the government doesn’t regulate the supplement industry. Unlike the pharmaceutical industry, there is no standard testing, trials, and labeling requirements for supplements. So before you reach for the supplement bottle, read this article. You will learn how to determine if a supplement is right for you.

The Wild West

The FDA doesn’t have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness. Manufacturers bear the responsibility for their own products. That means they can market them without any government oversight. Keep in mind the manufacturers are in business to make a profit. While many manufacturers are highly ethical and trustworthy, some may not report dangers associated with their products. Therefore, it’s up to you to do your own product research before starting any supplement regimen. 

The first thing to do is to consult with your doctor. Your doctor can confirm supplements you are considering won’t interact negatively with any prescribed medications. After that, it’s time to start your research.

The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Adverse Event Reporting (CAERS) is a reporting agency that documents cases when using the products resulted in bad outcomes. Additionally, it reports complaints filed by consumers and health care practitioners. This database is submitted to the FDA for dietary supplements, foods, and cosmetics, and is where consumers can report possible harm caused by a supplement. This database is completely voluntary. Therefore, complaints registered here could be the tip of the iceberg.

Three Things to Consider

Two young women talking while sharing coffee.

When researching supplements, two questions should be front and center.  First off, do they work? Check with the National Institute of Health Institute of Health for the dietary supplement fact sheet. Look for case studies of people who use the supplement. Talk to friends for anecdotal evidence. And of course, consult with reputable health care professionals. After you have thoroughly investigated the effectiveness of the supplement, you are ready to decide if it’s right for you. If you decide to try it, give it about a month to see results.  Keep a written log of how you feel during that month and review it to spot trends in your health and wellness. Supplements, like prescription medications, can affect individuals differently, so it’s important to determine if it’s working for you. If it isn’t, stop taking it.    

Another question to ask should be, is it safe? Just because something is labeled “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe. Many prescription and illegal drugs are developed from plants, which are natural, so safety should be a concern. Your doctor keeps your health records and knows if any underlying health problems exist. So, we recommend keeping your doctor up to date while using any supplement.

Additionally, third-party testing is important. Third-party lab testing provides unbiased reports on effectiveness and safety, so be sure to look for them. Independent testing is important for all supplements, especially CBD. Reputable manufacturers provide complete transparency and often publish these results on their website. These considerations will ensure you determine if a supplement is right for you.

Purity Matters

A single drop of water falls into a pool to symbolize purity.  This is one of the ways how to determine if a supplement is right for you.

What’s in this product? That is another question to ask. Make sure your supplements are as pure as possible, without added fillers, colors, and contaminants. Not all supplements have all the ingredients they claim to have. They may contain ingredients not listed on the label, and these ingredients can be unsafe. Specific, individual vitamins, like C or D, usually have only one effective ingredient. But herbal or botanical supplements often contain a blend of active ingredients not fully disclosed on labels. The independent group USP, or US Pharmacopeia, is a non-profit organization that sets the most widely accepted standards for purity. NSF International is another non-profit organization that sets similar standards. It’s also important to obtain your vitamins and supplements from a trusted source and look for third-party testing.

Supplements can be an effective and safe way to treat health conditions, but use them only if you have to. As discussed in my last blog, Healthy Food Can Be The Best Medicine, nothing beats the nutrient power of a healthy diet. Do not use supplements as a substitute for good nutrition. Turn to them after you’ve made changes to your diet and still suffer from a health condition, and always with the advice and consent of your health care practitioner. Finding the right supplements can be a challenge, but if you use the tools provided above, you can determine if a supplement is right for you. For more information on supplements and the six keys to optimal health, visit our website. There you can learn about our full line of CBD products and start a live chat with us. Our mission is to help you feel great and live your best life, naturally.

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