Supplement Buying Guide: Safe Supplements
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Supplement Buying Guide: Choosing Safe & Effective Products

Did you know that manufacturers do not need FDA approval to sell dietary supplements? Here are three tips for buying safety and effective supplements every time.

By Karen Truhe, M.P.H.

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According to a survey conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, about 68 percent of Americans take dietary supplements. The same survey found that 84 percent of Americans have confidence in the safety, quality and effectiveness of their supplements.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, does not regulate the safety and efficacy of supplements before they are marketed as they do for prescription drugs. 

Manufacturers and distributors are responsible for making sure their products are safe. So, it is important that we, as consumers, buy supplements from reputable sources. 

Here are a few tips to make sure you are buying effective and safe supplements.

Check for Third-Party Verification

Many supplements are certified by a third party, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia (or USP) or NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) International, to show that they meet certain quality requirements. These third party certifications ensure that the product contains the ingredients listed on the label—in the potency and amount referenced—doesn’t contain harmful contaminants, and that they have been made using safe and controlled manufacturing practices.

You Get What You Pay For

Because manufacturers are the ones responsible for making sure their products are safe and contain high-quality ingredients, the best supplements may not always be the least expensive option. You may spend a little more for a high-quality supplement, but you can trust in the product’s potency and freshness.

Add Only One New Supplement at a Time

If you’re thinking about starting new supplements to support your health, add only one new supplement at a time. Consider talking to your doctor in advance to find out if they think a certain nutrient would be beneficial to you, particularly if you take prescription medications or have chronic health conditions.

If you experience side effects after starting a new supplement, stop taking it and inform your doctor.

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