First of all, the name “supplements” is a great indicator of the role they should play… those tiny pills packed with vitamins and minerals are just that: supplemental to more effective and proven methods of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Supplements have long been peddled as a convenient way to reach your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. But what should you know about relying on them and are there other more effective ways to treat your body well?
Supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but unlike a lot of over the counter pills, they are categorized as food rather than drug. This means that supplement manufacturers are not required to test their products in clinical trials in order to prove they are safe or effective like all over the counter or prescription medications do. In short, there is no standard for how well supplements actually aid your health.
Because of their categorization as a food rather than drug, supplements cannot advertise an ability to “treat, mitigate, or cure disease” so beware of any marketing that suggests otherwise.
On the label of supplements you can see emblems verifying whether the manufacturer has submitted their product for safety testing. If you are using supplements, make sure you look for these seals to find the highest quality product.
If you have any questions about what you are ingesting in a particular supplement, you can always contact the manufacturer for a full list of ingredients. Because of the lack of regulation of supplements, quality control is in the hands of the consumer.
Scientific evidence of the benefits of supplements is varied. There is a lot of conflicting information about the effectiveness of supplements and their intended function. A lot of these studies are available to the general public, but you may want to talk to your doctor or pharmacist for a comprehensive understanding of the results and what they mean for your personal health and goals.
So how can you find other ways to make sure you are getting the daily nutrients you need to live a healthy, balanced life?
Work with your doctor to establish a healthy diet that works for you. Everyone is different and having a conversation with a medical professional who knows you and your body can get you on the right path to getting all the nutrients you need without relying on supplements to get there.
Make sure other areas of your life are being “supplemented” as well. Exercise, a happy social life, emotional and mental well being are all equally important components of maintaining your health. Again, talk to your doctor if you have any questions about how to better support yourself in any of these areas.
Supplements may be a possibility for adding an extra element to your healthy life, but talk with your doctor about more established, scientifically-backed and effective ways to make sure you are living the best version of you!