With so much conflicting nutrition information out there, it may be difficult to know which supplement to choose. I’m here to offer one rule of thumb to follow. If the supplement seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Many supplements are not reviewed by the FDA prior to being put on the market. Even then, they are not thoroughly vetted unless there is a question regarding consumer safety. While health claims can be made about supplements, such as their effect on reducing risk for a particular disease, they cannot claim to treat a disease. This would put them into the “drug” category, which does get FDA approval before being marketed to the public.
Supplements must contain one or more of the following dietary ingredients: vitamins, minerals, herbs and other botanicals, amino acids, a concentrate, metabolite, extract, or be used for the purpose to increase overall caloric intake. While most supplements are in the form of pills, many can be consumed as gummies, bars, teas, or shakes as well. Nutrients tend to work best in their natural food form, surrounded by other nutrients. Extracting them into a pill may not allow our bodies to fully absorb them as we would from eating similar foods containing those nutrients. This is not to say supplements don’t have a purpose. In fact, they can be very useful when someone is deficient in a certain nutrient, pregnant, or unable to eat by mouth. If you are contemplating taking a supplement, it is best to check with your primary care provider. Your physician will have a complete list of your medications and can notify you if taking certain supplements will interfere with your current medications or if certain foods should be avoided while on that supplement.
Written by Victoria Luera, Lone Star Circle of Care Registered Dietitian. Published by Ashley Wild.