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Home  FDA and Supplements

The FDA and Nutritional Supplements

Thursday, March 19, 2015
By Danielle C. Tworek, CPT, WLS, Nutritionist

Are Nutritional Supplements Safe?

You hear it all the time – “the FDA doesn’t stand behind supplements.” Or, “You shouldn’t be taking those.” “Supplements don’t really work.” Supplements aren’t safe.”

Hearsay is no way to manage your health. You need to know the facts.

The fears surrounding supplements stem from a number of suppliers and manufacturers who have found ways around the regulatory system, avoiding quality checks and failing to adhere to established standards. This is why it is so difficult for you, as a consumer, to determine which supplements are safe and will help you reach your health goals.

Stop wondering. Discover the best supplements for your health. Learn what the FDA says about supplements:

What Are Your Nutritional Needs?

safe high-quality multivitaminThe FDA, along with a vast array of entities that support public health, suggests that you talk to your doctor about your specific nutritional needs and what options are available to help you meet those needs within the demands of your lifestyle.

A wholesome balanced diet is always the number one recommendation for adequately meeting and maintaining the nutritional needs of your body. Even the best supplements in the world are no substitute for a healthy diet – even a rigorous exercise routine won’t save your health, if it isn’t paired with a balanced, whole foods diet.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), advises that the general population should strive to meet nutritional needs through consumption of foods, and adding that supplementation may necessary for sensitive populations. These may include:

  • Women of child-bearing age who are pregnant or may become pregnant
  • Adults over 50
  • Adults or children who suffer from identified nutritional gaps that cannot be met by food alone

To identify your nutritional gaps and/or determine which supplements can best support your body’s needs for your age, gender, lifestyle and health status, talk to your doctor. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be difficult to spot and are often mistaken as a side effect of aging or stress, yet both aging and stress can rapidly deplete nutrient stores.

FDA Supplement Regulations

Now that you know how to determine which vitamin, minerals and antioxidants might be best for you, how do you choose the right brand? How do you know which supplements are safe?

First, you should understand that vitamin and mineral products are regulated by FDA as "Dietary Supplements." Dietary supplements, according to the law, are defined as products taken by mouth that contain a "dietary ingredient" intended to supplement the diet.

“Dietary ingredients" not only include vitamins and minerals, but also botanical products, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, microbial probiotics, and metabolites. Dietary supplements can also be extracts or concentrates of various forms.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 requires that all such products be labeled as dietary supplements.

In June 2007, the FDA established dietary supplement "current Good Manufacturing Practice" (cGMP) regulations. These regulations require manufacturers to evaluate their products through testing of identity, purity, strength, and composition.

Since the FDA can’t be everywhere at once, it is important to become an informed consumer while supplement shopping. Visit the brand’s website or call information line. Look for the answers to these questions:

1. Does the supplement actually contain the ingredients and amounts listed on the label?

2. Does the delivery method (capsule, tablet, liquid, etc.) provide good absorption?

3. Does the product contain quality ingredients free from potentially harmful contaminants, additives, fillers, or chemicals such as lead?

4. Who formulated the product — a medical doctor, researcher, or other expert? Remember, just because a product is natural does not ensure it is safe.

5. Are the products manufactured by a facility incompliance with the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) guidelines?

To learn more about the FDA’s stance on supplements, visit the FDA website For Consumers page.

Or, to learn more about Medix Select’s quality assurance and manufacturing certifications and standards, visit the Medix Select Supplement Guide page.


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