With millions of people worldwide learning about the benefits of health supplements, the market has grown tremendously. Unfortunately, that has meant that providers of substandard products have put supplements on the market that may not deliver on their promises. If you are interested in using dietary health supplements, there are several steps you can take to help ensure you’re getting the best product for your money.
First, you should take a look at the expiration date on the label of the vitamins or supplement bottle. Out of date products probably won’t hurt you, but they may not be as effective as a fresher product, depending on what type of supplement it is.
For choosing nutritional health supplements such as fish oil capsules or omega-3 fatty acid supplements, you should look for products that are certified not to have mercury in them. Other substances that can affect how safe a supplement is and how your body reacts to it include wheat, corn, and dairy products in the filler ingredients. Allergies to these are fairly common.
Look at the label and confirm that the product has been tested in a laboratory to ensure that the stated amounts of nutrients printed on the label are accurate. Other label information you should look at when choosing health supplements includes whether the ingredients are organic and do not contain pesticides.
Speaking with your health care provider, a dietitian, nutrition expert, fitness trainer, or health food store operator can help you learn about which supplements are best for your particular age, gender, health status, and lifestyle.
While some consumers thoroughly research the different types of supplements, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs, others just want to ensure that they are getting enough of the nutrition that is recommended for them. For this purpose, you can find high quality multi-vitamin supplements, some of which contain important minerals like iron and calcium.
If you determine that you have a particular nutritional deficiency, you can often get a supplement that only contains that particular product. Single vitamin supplements are commonly available for vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, and the many B vitamins. You can also find supplements that contain just a collection of the various B vitamins.
Health supplements like omega-3 fatty acids usually come in gel capsules and do not contain other supplements. Calcium supplements often include vitamin D. Iron supplements may come as single-product supplements or combined with other minerals and vitamins. In short, whatever single supplement or combination you seek is almost certainly available in a health food store or online.
Reading between the lines of many health supplement labels is this caveat:
WARNING: This label may be misleading the public. Supplement facts represented on this label may be inaccurate or other valuable information withheld in order for this product to attract more selling value. Labels in the health supplement industry are often misleading. The FDA has limited oversight on health supplements. High profits in this lucrative industry has attracted all kinds of manufacturers, many using inferior raw materials, negligent production practices, inaccurate labeling and false claims to sell their products. The industry is so large and expanding that all kinds of manufacturers can make a niche for themselves in this highly profitable sector.How can you make a wise choice for a quality health supplement product? First, let’s understand what a health supplement is.
What is a Health Supplement?
Health supplements are dietary supplements defined by Congress in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, 1994 as being, “a product (other than tobacco) taken by mouth that contains a dietary ingredient intended to supplement the diet. The dietary ingredients in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites.” These supplements can be in various forms such as capsules, tablets, soft-gels, gel-caps, powders, liquids, or even bars. They can be used for many different purposes such as lowering cholesterol, increasing energy, supporting immune health, weight loss, weight/muscle gain, for overall well-being, or other health-benefiting reasons. These products are sold at health food stores, grocery stores, drug stores, national discount chains, mail-order and Internet.
Choosing from a myriad of health supplements can be a daunting task for a consumer. For any particular health concern, most health supplements all promise the same benefit, all have the same, if not similar ingredients. So how do you choose? Some of them even make tall, incredible health claims and only a few of them carry any precautionary warnings. Here are a few guidelines to go by when choosing a health supplement.
The Credibility of the Manufacturer: Choose a manufacturer that has credibility. A GMP-certified company is a good start. GMP certified company would entail that strict manufacturing systems are in place at every stage of production.
Ensure Credibility: Search the web for the company’s history and reputation. Does the website contain their contact information? Can you talk to them over the phone or through live assistance on their website for any queries you may have?
Quality: In order to be effective, a health supplement must be of the highest possible quality. Quality varies widely because there are no quality standards in the health supplement industry. Factors to quality are:
Physician Formulated Products: Look for products that have been physician formulated by a well-known doctor, not just accredited by a doctor.
Research and Development. Check whether the company has a research and development team. This means they have conducted various tests and trials on the product to ensure safety and effectiveness of ingredients, including whether the end product is of the highest purity and potency value.
Labels: The FDA requires that certain information appear on the dietary supplement label. Look for these:
Name of product (including the word “supplement” or a statement that the product is a supplement)
Net quantity of contents
Name and place of business of manufacturer, packer, or distributor
Directions for use
In certain cases, a disclaimer: “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
A Supplement Facts panel that lists:
Serving size, list of dietary ingredients, amount per serving size (by weight), percent of Daily Value (%DV), if established
If the dietary ingredient is a botanical, the scientific name of the plant or the common or usual name standardized in the reference Herbs of Commerce, 2nd Edition (2000 edition) and the name of the plant part used
If the dietary ingredient is a proprietary blend (i.e., a blend exclusive to the manufacturer), the total weight of the blend and the components of the blend in order of predominance by weight
Try not to make the price of the product a deciding factor. There are many cheaper products available in the market but in the long run your health will benefit from a product from a reliable manufacturer.
Tall health claims: If the product makes incredulous claims that seem too good to be true, use your discretion. Avoid such products.
Expiration date. Dietary supplements should carry an expiration date as they can lose potency over time.
Educate yourself. Study the ingredients on the internet. Visit reliable sites that will give you accurate information on the ingredients in the product. Some of the ingredients may be safe to use, but have precautions for use not mentioned on the label.
Precautions: If you are taking medications, be aware that herbal supplements may interact adversely with them. If you are under 18 or over 65 be aware that herbal supplements may not have been tested on your age group.
Check with your doctor before taking any health supplements.
By now you’ve probably heard a lot about health supplements. There are many different companies that sell countless supplements that contain numerous ingredients. The problem is trying to figure out what to look for when you decide to purchase a health supplement. This article provides some general advice to help you make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing a dietary supplement
Tip 1: Read the label
The label provides most, if not all, of the information you need to know about a health supplement. With so many different products on the market, the government recognized the importance of accurate labeling for dietary supplements. Many laws, including the dietary supplement health and education act of 1994, created guidelines for what information should be included on health supplement labels. With modern regulations, a great deal of important information is now included on labels. It is important that you make the most of this information by carefully reading the label. Understanding the information on the product’s container will help you make a well-informed decision about that particular supplement.
Tip 2: Know your dietary needs
Every person has their own unique nutritional needs, and it is impossible for one supplement to be perfect for everyone. Therefore, it is important to understand your own dietary needs before purchasing a supplement. You and your doctor can determine which parts of your diet may be lacking, and what type of supplement may be good for you. It is important that you first know what you need to provide your body before you start taking a health supplement.
Tip 3: Where to buy from
Once you have decided to purchase a health supplement, you will need to know where to buy from. Most grocery stores have a health supplements section. Additionally, you can find supplements at supplement stores, pharmacies, health stores, and discount retailers. When you purchase a supplement at a store, make sure that there is an expiration date on the container. Nutritional supplements have a limited lifespan, and it is important that you are not using a product that is past its expiration date. Checking the expiration date can help protect you from using an outdated product. Also, make sure that the product has not been tampered with. Most products will contain a plastic security seal that indicates that nobody has opened the container. It is possible to get a tainted product, so it is important that you do not purchase a product that has been opened.
In addition to buying supplement from a store, you can also purchase online. There are many different online retailers that sell health products. It is important that the company selling the product is reputable. Read through the website, and look for customer reviews to ensure that the website protects your private information and will deliver the product you ordered.
Overall, health supplement can be a safe and effective way to provide your body with the substances it needs. However, it is important that you make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing a health product. You should make sure that you read the label, know your dietary needs, and ensure that the product is safe before you make a purchase. Using the advice above will help you make an informed decision so that you find the right health supplement for you.
A growing number of consumers are turning to health supplements as an alternative or addition to mainstream medicine. Today’s consumers are savvy and understand the benefits of the ingredients found in health supplements for good health and well-being. While they are apprehensive of nutritional products, they value brands that offer manufacturing credibility and prefer products formulated under doctor supervision.
As more consumers place priority on their health, health supplements are fast becoming a popular choice.This focus is reflected in the booming growth of the U.S. dietary supplement market, presently estimated to be valued at $24-25 billion. In spite of prevailing doubts about the integrity of health supplement manufacturers, the rising cost of raw materials and new regulations, the health supplement industry is projected to rise by 4-6% in the next year. By the year 2010 growth in the global nutraceuticals industry is projected to reach $187 billion.
According to NMI’s 2007 Health & Wellness Trends Survey, the top health categories for supplements are weight loss, cardiovascular support, digestion, arthritis or joint pain relief, seasonal allergy relief, vision and eye health, and diabetes.”Customers believe in the industry. A recent study found that 34% of consumers looking to lose weight first turn to a dietary supplement as their adjunct in the battle against obesity,” says Douglas S. Kalman, director of nutrition and applied clinical research at Miami Research Associates and chair of the Nutrition in Complementary Care Dietetic Practice Group (NCC-DPG).
According to an annual survey conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Washington, D.C. “Consumers’ use of dietary supplements remained fairly consistent in 2007, with 68% of American adults saying that they take dietary supplements.”Consider these statistics by the Office of Dietary Supplements:
* 31.8% of American children use dietary supplements (18 and younger).
* 47% of American men use dietary supplements.
* 57% of American women use dietary supplements.
The most commonly used dietary supplements are multivitamins and minerals (18.3%). A recent study conducted by the NCAAM, shows a list of why people use dietary supplements, the most common reasons are general health, arthritis, memory improvement, to prevent osteoporosis, for energy, recommended by physician, friend, family or through media, for immune health, to prevent colds/influenza, and as sleep aids.Health supplements most commonly purchased are:
* 8% specialty supplements (melatonin, fish oil, amino acids, etc.)
The top supplements used by consumers in 2007, in order of frequency are multivitamins, calcium, vitamin C, fish oil, vitamin E, antioxidants, vitamin B/B complex and omega 3s. (NMI survey).Why are Health Supplements Gaining Credibility?
There are more than 20,000 products on the market. Many consumers believe that health supplements can support their bodies to fight disease or improve health. Exactly why are health supplements gaining credibility?One of the reasons is the advances in science and technology. Most credible health supplement manufacturers use strict manufacturing policies combined with a professional team of researchers who develop products based on evidence based scientific research.
Through clinical studies and systematic reviews scientist evaluate the health benefits and safety risks of health supplements. This has built consumer confidence.An example of this is omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. There is strong evidence from epidemiologic and clinical trials indicating the consumption of omega-3 fatty acid as being beneficial to people who are at risk of coronary heart disease. The American Heart Association validates this: “Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of – or who have – cardiovascular disease”Consumer interest in health supplements is now reinforced by doctors and healthcare professionals.
A report from CRN’s Healthcare Professionals Impact Study states that “more than three-quarters of U.S. physicians (79%) and nurses (82%) recommend dietary supplements to their patients.” As dietary supplements receive more support from clinical trials, there will be a rise in the number of recommendations of health supplements by healthcare professionals to their patients.
Another factor which will boost future sales is the recent finalization of U.S. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) rules and requirements for the manufacture of dietary supplements and the new Adverse Event Reporting (AER) law. “The burden of compliance is really key for consumer confidence,” says Daniel Fabricant, vice president of scientific affairs, Natural Products Association (NPA), Washington, D.C. Health supplements are the future in preventive medicine. With DNA diagnostics becoming more common, and the role of nutrition against disease gaining surer footing, the health supplement industry is poised to meet the challenges of the future health industry.