What To Look For When Buying Supplements

51

Whether you are looking to prevent illness, boost your metabolism, increase your energy levels or even brighten your skin, supplements can be a great option.

A woman browsing shelves stocked with supplements
Shutterstock

Not all supplements are equal, though. Here’s what you should look for when shopping.

Choose Reputable Sources

Unlike prescription medications, supplement manufacturers have very little regulatory oversight from the FDA. They are not required to prove the safety or effectiveness of their products they are put on the shelves for purchase.

Many supplement makers hold themselves to a higher standard than what is required, but there are some bad ones out there as well. Some supplement makers distribute and sell products that are downright dangerous, putting consumers at risk.

If a price seems too good to be true, use caution. Be wary of shopping online for unknown brands, as well. Use your common sense and do research on the brand and the product before buying–and taking–any supplements.

Supplement Red Flags

Certain types of pills such as weight loss and sexual enhancement supplements are more prone to contain dangerous ingredients. Many of them are ineffective anyway. You should not take any of these supplements without talking to your doctor first.

Where the supplements are manufactured also plays a role in how safe they are. When choosing supplements, stay away from ones that are manufactured in China as they could be contaminated by substances like lead. Also, look for a USP verified mark, which indicates the product has been tested for contaminants and the ingredients listed on the label have been verified.

Studies have proven that higher-priced supplements are less likely to contain contaminants and more likely to contain effective amounts of what they claim to be in the product. Shopping at supplement stores such as GNC or The Vitamin Shoppe can also help ensure you are not purchasing products that have been recalled.

Last but not least, there are some ingredients that have been linked to serious health issues. The ingredient Kava is believed to cause liver damage. Bitter Orange contains syndephrine, which has been linked to strokes and heart attacks. Particularly when combined with caffeine, even healthy people can experience adverse side effects from bitter orange.

L-tryptophan is another ingredient to steer clear of, as it has been associated with neurotoxic reactions. Chromium, although safe according to many standards, can lead to anemia or even kidney failure if it is overused.

Next time you fill up your supplements, keep all of these tips in mind to ensure you are getting what you pay for and not compromising your health.