It seems like everyday I’m hearing about some new supplement than help with this or that. I’m glad that we’re learning more about them, but I sure wish the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) would regulate them more. Companies know that many people prefer natural versus synthetic medicine and some unethical businesses are cashing in on that fact. Below are some tips to help you discriminate between the good and the bad. (Of course, you should always talk with your doctor before taking any supplements)
- Avoid supplements that claim to completely replace prescription medicines.
- Avoid 30 day money back guarantees – they are usually auto-ship/auto-bill scams
- Be cautious of celebrity endorsements – try to find proof elsewhere they they actually endorse the product
- Avoid packages written primarily in foreign languages – you’ll have a hard time figuring out what the packaging says and it may not have been brought into the country legally (may not be up to standards).
- Avoid packages that do not contain a company name, website or phone number – why wouldn’t they share that info?
- Remember that “natural” doesn’t always mean safe.
- Avoid products that seem too good to be true – like miracle claims
- Check websites like Consumer Lab, NSF International, United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) for supplement information and studies.
I recently saw a representative from Consumer Lab on TV and he gave these shocking (or maybe not-so-shocking) results about common supplements:
- Fish Oil - 30% contained less Omega3s than listed on the bottle or they had spoiled before the bottle expiration date. There is no such thing as pharmaceutical grade, but these brands tested well: Life Extension Super Omega-3, Advocare Omegaplex Omega-3 Fatty Acid
- Probiotics – It is usually recommended that there are 1 billion live organisims for adults, but most don’t have the amount the bottle claims (by 7-50%). One tip is to look if there is an * following the number listed and if that means “at the date of manufacturer.” If so, the number of organisms has been going down since manufacturing, since they can die off .
- St. John’s Wort - 40% didn’t contain the active ingredient or they had high cadmium (a carcenigen). These brands tested well: Nature’s Way Perika St John’s Wort, Nature’s Bounty St. John’s Wort, Double Strength 300 mg
- Ginseng – 45% failed tests, but these tested well: Spring Valley Korean Ginseng Standardized Extract, Nature Made Ginseng
- Coconut Water - Only 1 in 3 have the amount of electrolytes listed on the package, but ZICO Coconut Water tested well.
*Image Credit: from www.flickr.com by Jonas N
Posted: February 6th, 2012 under Treatments.
Tags: Coconut Water, Consumer Lab, Fish Oil, Ginseng, NSF International, Probiotic, St. John's Wort, Supplements, United States Pharmacopeial Convention, USP, Vitamins