Dietary supplements do not need to be approved by, or registered with, the Food and Drug Administration before they are marketed. Manufacturers are responsible for establishing their own practice guidelines to ensure products are safe and contain the ingredients listed on the label.
Unfortunately, not all companies conduct the necessary testing and research to ensure a pure, safe, and effective medicine. What makes certain products better than others, and how can you tell the difference? When selecting supplements, consider the following questions:
- Where do the ingredients in this product come from?
- Is there reliable research information available on this product?
- Does the product information come from the maker or the seller of the product, or from a reliable, independent source?
- Has an effective dosage been determined?
- How will the supplement interact with other natural or pharmaceutical medications?
- What are the potential health benefits, risks and side effects?
Don’t take supplements you don’t need. Consider potential outcomes, whether good or bad, before taking any new medicines.
Only use supplements that list the name and address of the manufacturer, a lot number or batch number, the date of manufacture and expiration date. When looking for herbal medicines, choose standardized products that list the scientific name, quantity and part of any plant ingredient.
Store supplements in a dry place away from heat and light, preferably in dark glass containers with a tight seal. Take inventory regularly and discard expired products.
Never self-diagnose. Seek medical attention for health problems and always consult with a licensed practitioner trained in the use of natural medicines before taking any supplements.