5 Precautions to Choose a Safe Supplement


On Monday I made the assertion supplements aren’t as unsafe as perceived.  However, there are definitely precautions to take when picking a supplement.  Here’s my top 5.

#1 Beware outlandish claims. Watch for things like: “Lose weight without changing your diet!”  “Get shredded!”  “Improve your IQ!”  “Grow a bigger….”  You get the idea.  If the claim seems too good to be true, well, you know the rest.

#2 Multivitamins are safe.  I always see the recommendation to avoid mega-doses (over 500% of RDA) but few drugstore brands contain this much. (Link for maximum vitamin & mineral doses).

In addition, for certain vitamins (notably vitamin D) the current literature recommends doses higher than the RDA.  But, when buying a multivitamin you do need to check one ingredient….

#3 Beware Iron.  Most overdoses associated with supplements are due to iron.  Be sure to keep an iron supplement away from children.  The amber pill could be mistaken for candy.

If your multivitamin contains iron take it 2 hours apart from prescription medicines.  If they intermingle in the stomach iron can bind drugs and not let them into the bloodstream.

#4 NSF Verified? NSF is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to consumer safety.  Check out they’re website to for verification that what you buy is what you get.  Want to take it a step further?  Join ConsumerLab.com for quality reviews on over 900 products or order the Nutrisearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements.

#5 Herbs Interact.   Besides the iron issue, multivitamins have minimal effects on prescription drugs.  The opposite is true for herbals.  Although not all herbals can affect other drugs, some can wreak havoc.  Check with your pharmacist to be sure no potential interactions exist. (A quick interactions reference guide).

Here’s the FDA guide to safe supplement use.

Did I miss one?  What rules of thumb do you follow?


2 responses to “5 Precautions to Choose a Safe Supplement

  1. Pingback: What you Should Know about Dry Labbing | Essentials of Nutrition

  2. Pingback: Supplements and a Fear of Flying | Essentials of Nutrition

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