Are you supplement savvy?

I have been seeing more and more supplements emerge over the years and I think it’s a troubling trend. Some boast that they have more antioxidants than you could ever consume in vegetables and fruits alone. Others swear that they can promote muscle growth and burn fat while increasing your energy. It all sounds so enticing doesn’t it? Can supplements really be the answer or are you being sold dreams in pill form?  If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The first question I ask about anything I choose to swallow is, ‘are they safe and effective?’. The FDA doesn’t have to approve of supplements as safe or effective before they are marketed and sold to the public. Buyer beware, whenever a company has to put a disclaimer on their product like this (below), you need to ask yourself why.

  • “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

There are some outside organizations such as USP that set standards for the purity and strength of ingredients in supplements. In other words, if you see the USP logo on your bottle, that means that they have checked to see that it contains exactly what is on thelabel – no more, no less. Why on earth would that be necessary you ask? There have been instances where supplements contain more or less of the ingredients stated on the label as well as the addition of ingredients that aren’t listed. This can be particularly dangerous to those with allergies, those taking other medications or those with any number of medical issues.

I’m only touching the tip of the iceberg here because it’s such a huge topic. Supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry and I don’t see that changing any time soon. My own personal stance on supplement usage is to have your diet and lab values analyzed by a qualified professional, then only take those nutrients that you need and cannot get from food sources alone.

Below are some links with even more information about supplements. There are many websites out there trying to give you “information” about supplements so it can be difficult to find the truth. Look for multiple peer reviewed studies to back up any claim made about a given supplement and check with your health care provider before taking anything.

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