Are Nutrition Supplements All The Same?

by Marcie Millar, RD, LDN, Cert in Herbal Medicine & DSHEA Law

Choosing nutritional suppements from the overwhelming array of vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc. is a confusing, complex and often unsafe way to be healthy.

The media is full of tempting reasons to buy, which is often driven by money-making scams. There are regulations for manufacturing and testing for purity and potency... but they are not strictly enforced by the FDA.

At least one-third of commercial nutrition supplements do not contain what they say they do. Falsely labeled supplements are less effective, or don't work at all, or are dangerous if they contain more a reported ingredient.

Commercial nutritional supplements contain binders, fillers, mechanical lubricants, waxes, talc, artificial colors, and allergens, just to name a few. These ingredients interfere with the absorption and can cause digestive upset or allergic reactions. Some have been found to contain lead, mercury, or other toxic substances.

There are nutrition supplements available which are exactly what they say they are. They are manufactred and available through healthcare professionals. These companies believe that dispensing of their products is best in the hands of licensed pracitioners. They implement the laws for manufacturing and match testing for purity and potency. Unlike many brands found on store shelves, professional brands undergo routine testing that monitors consistent dose and quality of the raw materials and the finished product.

These regulations ensure science, safety, and effectiveness through a healthcare professional you ca trust. They are formulated by experts and contain a vegetable capsule or minimal non-toxic ingredients.

Products are labeled with directions and checked for interactions with emedications or other supplements you take. They are not chosen by chance in a grocery, drug, or health food store by you or sales-people.

Professional supplements are available through Naturopathic Doctors, Holistic Clinical Nutrtitionists, and Dietitians, some chiropractors, and some medical doctors usually board-ceritifed in clinical nutrition.Nurses and pharmacists may also specialize in this field.

I recommend DSHEA Law (Dieteary Supplement Health and Education Act) and or CCN (Certified Clinical Nutritionist) credentials be added. Beware of the internet and vitamin/health food stores without guidance.

If you take dietary supplements, you should get a full medical and nutrition assessment, which is often covered by health insurance. Review the supplements you take with someone knowledgeable about nutrition, medicine, complementary and alternative healthcare so you not risk your money.