The world of dietary supplements is a vast one that should be navigated with caution. There are a variety of supplements out there that are advertised to cater to different needs, from improving hair growth and reducing acne to boosting strength and endurance. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all supplements are created equal or are effective, for that matter.
Since supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, this means that a supplement does not have to be proven to be effective or safe before it hits store shelves. Unfortunately, most consumers are not aware of this.
It is important to be able to understand the ingredients and mechanisms behind a supplement before consuming it. However, some consumers have neither the time nor scientific background to do so. Instead, here are few things one can keep in mind when figuring out if one should be wary of a supplement.
1. Something that claims you get fast, easy results is suspicious. Just because we eat a salad does not mean we are automatically healthy, and vice-versa – just because we do not eat a salad does not mean we are automatically unhealthy.
2. A supplement that claims to be used since the cavemen era or for many years is questionable. There are many things archaeologists and anthropologists do not know about how our early ancestors lived. In addition, just because the cavemen did something does not necessarily prove it is beneficial.
3. Lastly, supplements that have been researched and supported by the scientific community are more likely to have more information about their safety and effects. It is advisable to do your research before selecting a supplement, and it is even better when you are able to find information from different sources.
If you would like to find out more information about a supplement in particular, there are some organizations that will test and review supplements for use. The National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, Informed-Choice.org (geared more towards athletic supplements), USDA National Agricultural Library, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are all trustworthy places to find information on supplements.
Hopefully these simple guidelines can help you get your money’s worth if you decide to buy a supplement. It is important to note that although a well-balanced diet does not necessarily need supplements, they may be helpful when there is a deficiency or restriction in a person’s diet that is preventing them from consuming a particular nutrient.