Nearly 77% of Americans regularly consume dietary supplements. With that being said do we really know what we are putting into our bodies? Recently a sweep by the FDA revealed over 300 fraudulent supplements on the market.
That is why we have decided to create this helpful guide for buying supplements safely online. We have put together 7 simple tips that will keep you safe and informed when making your next purchase.
Let’s get started!
1. Talk to an Expert
Online forums can seem like the best place to go when you want to learn more, but sometimes the best course of action is to go straight to your healthcare provider. Your doctor may have suggestions for natural supplements that you may benefit from based on things like blood work and medical history.
Your pharmacist is another great person to consult when considering buying supplements. They are experts on the ingredients of supplements and will be able to identify which supplements may interact with medications that you are taking.
For example, the supplement St.Johns Wort can diminish the effectiveness of birth control. Talking with your pharmacist could help prevent negative interactions between your medication and the supplements you choose.
2. Study Labels
When buying supplements, be vigilant about reading the labels. Always look for the USP stamp which indicates that the supplement has met the standards of US Pharmacopeia.
Your supplement label should always contain the following:
- Name of the supplement
- Serving size
- Active ingredients
- Inactive ingredients
- Manufacturing Information
If you are ever in doubt of a supplement you can check online at the Dietary Supplement Label Database. If you are ever unsure about a supplement and cannot find the appropriate data then it is best to choose a different option.
3. Be Cautious of Third-Party Sellers
Sellers on Amazon and eBay can be legitimate, however, it is up to you to do your research to ensure that you are not buying from a fake seller. The legitimate sellers will always include their name brand and username.
Never buy from a seller that does not have a website or any contact information. These sellers will often add adulterants to the supplement making it less effective. Checking the seller’s reviews can help give you an idea of what to expect from the purchase.
4. Have Realistic Expectations
Certain supplements can indeed help prevent issues. For example, taking iron can help prevent anemia. That being said, no supplements have been proven to cure any major illness or disease.
Be leary of any company that touts their product as being a cure-all or rapid weight loss supplement. When you choose supplements you should choose options that will aid you in a healthy lifestyle rather than supplements that claim to fix problems.
Taking supplements should be done in conjunction with good health measures such as eating a balanced diet and regularly exercising.
5. Choose a Reputable Brand
Supplements do not go through the same rigorous testing that over the counter and prescription medication go through. That is why you must find a trusted source for your supplements.
A prime example would be fish oil. This supplement has garnered much attention for its ability to help reduce cardiovascular issues, however, many supplements have tested positive for harmful levels of pollutants and mercury.
Many trusted brands will run their independent tests to ensure customer safety and satisfaction.
Be cautious of supplements from foreign countries such as China. While many of their supplements are less expensive, they have also been known to contain harmful levels of adulterants such as lead and mercury.
6. Choose Vitamins Wisely
When choosing vitamins be advised that not all are created equally. For example, if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet you should look carefully at the vitamins you choose. Some vitamins are manufactured using animal by-products making them non-vegetarian or non-vegan.
Other vitamins may be slow release which can help ease digestive issues when taking vitamin supplements. Multi-vitamins are good for their cost-effectiveness, but not necessarily their efficacy. It is best practice to choose single-ingredient vitamins as you will be able to get the maximum absorption and content of the vitamin.
7. Do Your Research
When purchasing supplements, doing your research will help ensure that you are getting the best product at the best price. Cheaper does not always mean better, and in many cases, cheaper supplements are more likely to contain adulterants.
Going online gives you an advantage that in-store buying does not. You can read consumer-based reviews on the supplement that you are interested in to help you choose the best brand.
Research the ingredients of each supplement. If you come across an ingredient that you do not recognize consider searching it on a reputable database. Some fraudulent supplements may have ingredients that are known to cause health issues.
Buying Supplements Safely
Buying supplements safely is of the highest importance. Fake supplements can contain harmful pollutants and adulterants that could cause severe health issues. Never purchase anything that you are not 100% confident in buying.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with beginning too many new supplements at one time. Consider keeping a journal when you begin using new supplements. Write down when you are taking the supplement as well as what you are eating and how you feel that day.
Keeping a log of your progress will help you decern if the supplement is working for you or it is time to try something else. As with anything, always talk to your healthcare provider before beginning any treatment.
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