Are you one of the 70% of adults in the United States who take a nutritional supplement? More than likely you or someone you know is currently taking a vitamin or other daily supplement. As you have probably noticed, there are endless brands and options when it comes to choosing a supplement and picking the right one is more important than you may realize. If you want to pick a supplement that is safe, effective, and right for you, make sure to avoid these 6 common mistakes people make when buying supplements.
- Expecting supplements to replace a healthy lifestyle. Nutritional supplements are just that – supplements. They are meant to supplement a healthy lifestyle to maximize your health. Nothing can replace healthy lifestyle choices such as eating right, exercising, limiting stress, and getting enough sleep.
- Going the cheap route. You have probably heard the phrase “you get what you pay for,” and that certainly applies to buying supplements. Manufacturing supplements is expensive and making high quality supplements is even more expensive. Supplements don’t have the stiff regulations that prescription drugs have, and cheap supplements generally won’t meet those high standards. You’re likely trying to improve your health by taking a supplement, so why skimp on quality?
- Believing that if a supplement is “natural” it must be safe. Supplements are truly drugs, just like the prescriptions that your doctor writes. Supplements also have side effects, drug interactions, and contraindications just like your prescriptions. Always check with a member of your healthcare team to ensure a supplement is safe for you. Your pharmacist is a great resource that is easy to reach.
- Assuming supplements are “one size fits all.” Just because fish oil cured all your great aunt’s ailments, it doesn’t mean it will cure yours. Supplements must be tailored to a patient’s individual need.
- Not reading the inactive ingredients. Sometimes inactive ingredients are not so inactive. Look for supplements with hypoallergenic fillers and no artificial colors, hydrogenated fats, or other unnecessary ingredients.
- Not choosing a certified brand. Look for supplements that are USP or NSF certified. These are independent organizations who establish quality standards for products. If you see one of these seals on the product you’re buying, you can be assured that you are purchasing a product that contains the correct potency, contains only what is listed on the label, and was produced with the highest standards. If you can’t find a certified brand, ask for your pharmacist’s recommendation.
Joseph Feick, Pharm.D
Owner, Double Oak Mountain Pharmacy & Compounding
Greystone Centre, Highway 280