A Little Supplemental Advice

Dietary supplements have been around for decades. Pills, capsules, liquids, and even injections comprise over 55,000 supplements sold in the U.S. today. We all need a balance of vitamins and minerals to function and survive. Sometimes there is a legitimate need for a nutritional boost, and supplements are an easy way to do that. Doctors sometimes order supplements for patients.

But that’s not the problem. The problem is in the marketing and safety of dietary supplements.
Supplement manufacturers are forbidden from saying their product can treat or cure disease.
Because of this, they market themselves according to the desired result: weight loss, insomnia, hair growth, memory improvement, joint care, sexual performance, etc., preying on the public’s desire to achieve lifestyle enhancements simply by taking a pill.

Although there are federal rules for supplements, the level of research and oversight for this category does not match what’s in place for prescription drugs. The FDA needs to be notified
before a supplement goes to market, but its approval is not necessary. Supplements in the
U.S. have been found to contain harmful ingredients, and even contamination, putting the
consumer’s safety at risk. Consider this statement from the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Food & Drug Administration:

“Dietary supplements may seem like harmless health boosters. But while some have proven benefits, many don’t. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements aren’t evaluated or reviewed by
FDA for safety and effectiveness and even “natural” supplements can be risky depending on the medicines you take or the medical conditions you have. In recent years, hundreds of supplements also have been found to be tainted with drugs and other chemicals. Always talk to
your doctor before you take a new supplement, and avoid any supplement claiming it’s a “cure.””

Our advice: Review supplements with your doctor. Read labels carefully and research
ingredients you don’t recognize. Increase your vitamin and mineral intake through your diet,
including fiber, fruits, and veggies of all different colors. Exercise helps with sleep, mood, and

Fall is a great time to get outside for the sun’s [free] Vitamin D before winter comes. Be your
own supplement!

“Supplements: A Complete Guide To Safety” by Janeen Interlandi. Consumer Reports, Sept 2016, p.20.

Full FDA Statement on Dietary Supplements available at: