Supplements are a trendy way for you to become more beautiful, to become healthier, or to supplement your diet when you aren’t getting enough of any one vitamin or mineral. Although there are plenty of supplements that make big claims, and there might be a lot of hype around any one ingredient, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re good for you or your health. Here are the things to remember when you’re considering adding a new supplement to your diet.
The FDA Does Not Review For Safety Or Effectiveness
Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have the authority to review supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are brought to market. According to the FDA website, if there is a ‘new’ ingredient in a supplement, then the manufacturer has to notify the FDA about that ingredient prior to bringing it to market. However, the FDA will only review for safety, not effectiveness, and they do not have the authority to approve said ingredient.
If you’re wondering what this means for you, then think about the intense and prolonged process that new prescription medication or vaccines need to go through in order to be approved. Since the FDA doesn’t have the authority to approve supplements for safety or effectiveness, this means that you need to do your own research before taking something new, at the very least. It also means that consulting your doctor isn’t just a recommendation, it’s actually an action that could keep your body healthy, balanced, and functioning optimally.
Supplements Can Help Assure You Get The Nutrients You Need
Although it should be a significant factor when considering taking new supplements that the FDA does not approve those supplements before they are marketed to you, the FDA website acknowledges that supplements do actually help many people get the nutrients they need. Many of our diets are lacking in essential nutrients, so taking a little capsule might actually help us feel strong, healthy, and capable. When recommended or approved by your healthcare provider, you can confidently add a supplement to your diet that helps you achieve the health that you strive for, whether that health is for your beauty or for your internal processes.
There Are Some Risks
Just like medication or recreational drugs or baking or whatever biological/chemical balances that you’re playing with, supplements will probably affect you in some way. Everything has a unique chemical makeup, and that chemical makeup will react in some with your body. That’s just science.
This means that taking a new supplement requires some research, and these are some of the questions you should be asking yourself: how will this affect me? Who says that this is how this supplement will affect me? What scientific research has been done on the ingredients of this supplement? What other ingredients are in this supplement, and how will those affect me? Does my healthcare provider approve of this supplement? How many people do I know who take this supplement, and have they reported how it affects them? Is there a ‘new’ ingredient in this supplement, or is it something more common?
Another really big thing to ask yourself and your healthcare provider is: how will this supplement react with my other supplements and medications? Unless you have significant knowledge in health, nutrition, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, et cetera, you need to make sure that taking a new supplement will not affect the medications you are already taking, and will not react with anything you’re already taking in an adverse way.
You Can Take Too Much Of Something
Another risk with supplements is taking too much of something. Specifically, the FDA mentions vitamin A, vitamin D, and iron as common vitamins and minerals to watch out for. Taking too much of something can be dangerous and even life threatening because your body has a unique chemical makeup and it may react with any sort of thing you put into it, positively or not. Another reason to consult your healthcare provider.
Another thing that the FDA encourages you to consider when taking supplements is that some supplements can have adverse affects before, after, or during surgery. This is why you should let your doctors know what you’re consuming before undergoing surgery, no matter how small that supplement might seem, no matter how little of an impact that supplement might actually have on a procedure.
You Don’t Have To Be Scared Of Supplements
I realize that this article might feel heavy or scary, and I am not trying to convince you that supplements are bad, nor am I trying to convince you that supplements are good. Simply speaking, supplements have pros and cons, some of which are beyond my authority and field of knowledge to advise you on. This is why the main point of this article is that you should consult someone who really knows before ingesting something into your body. All the time!
There are some supplements that are more common than others, and some ingredients which are also found in cooking, like turmeric! Although I am not endorsing these supplements, nor do I have the authority to say it’s okay to take them, I wanted to include this list of common dietary supplements that the FDA also does not endorse yet puts on their website:
- Fish Oil
- Glucosamine and/or
- Chondroitin Sulphate
- Vitamin D
- St. John’s Wort
- Saw Palmetto
- Green Tea
Some other common supplements that I know of are collagen, vitamin C, and turmeric, obviously. Just because these are common, does not mean they are necessarily safe or healthy! Additionally, the FDA warns that just because something is labeled as natural doesn’t mean it is safe or healthy either.
The Best Way To Get The Nutrients You Need Is From Your Diet
Healthcare providers, the FDA, researchers, and I believe that the best way to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need is from your diet. Although you can plug gaps in your diet with supplements, actual food contains much more that your body needs to function other than vitamins and minerals, and these additional nutrients are not found in supplements. Plus, it’s safer. If you aren’t allergic to a food, there shouldn’t be a harm in eating it responsibly.
For additional information and to check out the sources I used to write this article, head to the FDA website, this article from Harvard Health Publishing, and this other article from Harvard Health Publishing. Both Harvard Health resources have a list of foods and the essential nutrients they contain, so you can make sure you’re eating a balanced diet!
Do you take any supplements that you think really help you? Let us know if you learned anything new from this article!