All Nutritional Supplements are NOT Created Equal
There is no doubt that nutritional supplements can be a huge benefit to your health. In some cases, they could even be lifesaving. However, the quality of supplements varies widely, and the main reason for this is the lack of strict quality control.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA or FDA) treats nutritional supplements in a way similar to food products. For example, you don’t have to get FDA approval before you market apples, and you don’t need their approval before you market dietary supplements either.
The assurance of safety falls upon the manufacturer, not the FDA. Furthermore, the manufacturer is also responsible for any claims about nutritional supplement content. So basically the FDA implements almost no quality control when it comes to dietary supplements.
There is one exception to this rule, and that is in the case of “new dietary ingredients”. If a supplement maker chooses to introduce a completely new ingredient not yet on the market, then this does require FDA approval.
The Quality Problem
The problem is that this situation leaves the door wide open to many unscrupulous companies that make products containing little or no beneficial vitamins, minerals or nutrients. In the worst case, some supplements can even be dangerous. The FDA only steps in if there are reports of adverse effects from the product, similar to cases of contaminated food.
In one report, a supplement was found to contain 200 times the amount of labeled selenium after reports came in about hair loss, nail loss and lung damage.
Pharmaceutical grade drugs on the other hand must undergo a strict process before being made available to market. Also, quality control is much more rigid.
Enter the Nutraceutical
Nutraceuticals are basically food, or food components, that are used to treat or prevent disease. This concept has been around for centuries, and today more and more conventional healthcare practitioners understand the central role that nutrition plays in the treatment of disease. The term “nutraceutical” has also begun to take on an added meaning in terms of quality control. The best dietary supplements on the market tend to follow the same strict manufacturing rules that pharmaceutical companies use. In fact, there are pharmaceutical companies that now make some of the best nutritional supplements in addition to their prescription drugs.
So Who Is Responsible?
In the end the responsibility falls upon you, the consumer, and this is a good thing in a way. It means you have to do a bit of homework before taking any medication or nutritional supplement. It also means that you should consult with a health care professional before taking any nutritional supplement for any reason.
Remember, you might be able to get the vitamins and minerals you need from natural food sources, so ask your doctor about this. Also be careful since some supplements might interfere with other medications you are currently taking. Finally, some products can have undesired side effects during surgery. Make no mistake: vitamins, minerals and nutrients are powerful tools, and they should be taken under the care of a physician with solid experience in regenerative medicine.
Are you being treated for a disease or medical disorder? Are your energy levels lower than you expect them to be? Are you an athlete that demands maximum performance and rapid recovery times? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then nutritional supplements can certainly help you. Just make sure you check with a specialist who is well informed about quality.
Here’s to your health!