One of the best ways to enhance a healthy diet is to incorporate a multivitamin or nutritional supplement. With so many products available, choosing one that fits your dietary needs can be a daunting task.
Know the Guidelines
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines are in place to protect consumers from false and unfounded claims from unscrupulous companies, in some respects they make the process more difficult for individuals looking for information.
If a “disease claim” is mentioned on a product bottle, the FDA requires that the following statement be printed in bold in a black box: “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” Because of these guidelines, if you browse the average shelf of supplements in your grocery store or health food store, you probably won’t find information on the bottles to indicate what the product is intended to do.
The FDA guidelines for supplement labels specifically prohibit disease claims because supplements aren’t drugs and haven’t been through the long and stringent process that’s required of prescription medications. This means a product can be named “Eye Health” but can’t state that it treats or cures age-related macular degeneration, dry eyes, glaucoma, cataracts, etc.
Here are a few recommendations to help you choose a product that is right for you:
- Be suspect of any supplement where the advertisements (or bottle) offer all kinds of claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Be leery when the only information you can find about a supplement ingredient is from a company or individual trying to get you to buy their product.
- Beware of any new supplement form. For example, several years ago coral calcium was suddenly all the rage. A huge marketing campaign aimed to convince consumers that coral calcium was superior to other calcium products. The truth—coral calcium was expensive and was not a new product. It’s actually calcium carbonate, which comes from limestone and is very inexpensive.
- Ignore all the hype you hear about different supplement forms (liquid, tablet, capsule) being better than another. All of these forms will be ingested by our body—some are ingested faster than others.
- Use the internet to research product ingredients. Good ingredients will have tons of scientific research to help you understand how they work. QuackWatch.com, ConsumerLab.com, and SupplementInfo.org all have good reference info, as do many medical institutions, colleges, universities, and research centers. And don’t forget to look at research studies—they all come with an abstract that will give you a quick synopsis of their findings.
Knowing how to interpret multivitamin and supplement labels can empower you as a consumer. By following the above guidelines, choosing a supplement no longer has to be a guessing game. You can choose a product with confidence.
Health and happiness, Kriss
(c) Kriss Brooks, Opetions All Rights Reserved