We all want to live longer, be healthier and reduce our risk of chronic diseases. In some cases, that leads us to purchase dietary supplements, which can claim to do all of these things. You should consider several things before purchasing and consuming a new supplement.
The level of scientific research to support marketing claims for supplements varies greatly depending on the product. Many supplement-related research studies were conducted on animals, but scientists do not have enough reliable research data to determine the impact dietary supplements have on humans. Many have not been tested in pregnant women, women who are nursing, and children.
The manufacturing and distribution of dietary supplements are not as closely monitored by the Food and Drug Administration as prescription drugs. As a result, there is no set federal standard for supplement manufacturing and distribution. Any supplement you purchase may be very different than the product that was used in research studies.
Companies must provide evidence that their dietary supplements are safe to use and product labels must be truthful and not misleading. Supplement labels cannot claim that the product will diagnose, treat, cure, lessen the effects of or prevent any disease. It is difficult to know by looking at the label if the claim is supported by science or evaluated by the FDA. This is where understanding the label terminology can be tricky but is extremely important.
Let your healthcare providers, dentist, pharmacist, eye doctor and any other medical professionals know if you are taking a supplement of any kind as these could adversely interact with some prescription drugs.
It is best to experiment with plant-derived supplements in their natural form by incorporating them into your cooking before purchasing a supplement.
More information on nutrition-related topics is available at the Letcher County Extension office.