Sorting Out Supplements

Sorting Out Supplements

In 2012, half of all Americans took at least one supplement according to Harvard Health Publications – 114 million individuals back then. It is likely a lot more today. Herbs, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes are all “supplements” according to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). And they come in many forms – drops, tablets, capsules, powders, and tinctures. People take them to “assist” with health issues, but supplements cannot use labels claiming to treat, prevent, diagnose, or cure anything. But if you suspect contamination or notice damage, you will need to contact the manufacturer or distributor immediately since they are ultimately responsible for the safety and delivery of the product. To ensure that you get a quality vitamin or supplement, find out if the company uses raw materials tested for efficacy, contamination, and quality recommends Dr. Thaddeus Gala in “Your Supplement Guide.” Also ask if the company employs a registered and qualified dietician who researches and formulates the best product. Then, inquire if they test their products after initial formulation.

Why would you take a supplement if you are not sure it is treating any specific condition? Supplements are designed to add to your nutrition.  Factors like depleted soil, current farming practices, genetically-modified foods, busy lifestyles, added stress and longer lifespans mean food is often not enough. Yet, figuring out what to take can be daunting. Looking online may convince you that supplements are a waste of money. But according to Oregon State University, the methodology behind supplement research is flawed. Unless the clinical studies establish proper baselines and study those who are truly deficient in vitamins before making conclusions, the trials are ineffective according to OSU.

Before, making supplement decisions, you need to involve your medical team in the process. You also need to be aware of possible contraindications. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health ( is a great resource for checking whether supplements will interact with one another or any prescribed medications. According to Consumer reports, only 28% of people even research whether their medications combined with supplements will have dangerous side effects. And raw ingredients are not the only culprit for adverse reactions. Side effects can be caused by binding agents in the supplements as well.

Once you have established that you have no contraindications and can consume specific supplements, you still need to take the best form of that supplement. Dr. Gala recommends capsules rather than tablets for multivitamins due to better absorption. Check out “Your Supplement Guide” available at for more information. Not all supplements are created equal and sorting them out is important for best results. Finally, if you have expired vitamins or supplements or just need to get rid of them, check out this website ( for more information about National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

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