Vitamins and Supplements
Tips to follow when shopping for vitamins and supplements.
This section offers guidance to insure you are purchasing vitamins, supplements and herbal products that are authentic and safe. The Food and drug administration regulates the safe and accurate use of prescription medicines but does not regulate vitamins and supplements. Hopefully this will change as vitamin and supplement manufacturers represent a billion dollar industry and are not reviewed for safety by the government. It is the company’s responsibility to insure that their product is safe, pure, free of contaminants, and accurate as to the potency or dosage.
This, of course, requires that manufacturers ‘police themselves’. The following tips can help you when you purchase vitamins and supplement.
Although taking a pill is easier, remember in many cases the best defense and best results occur when nutrition, vitamins and minerals come from a healthy diet not a pill.
- Beware of marketing hype. If the claims are too good to be true- that is probably true. Just because something is described as ‘natural’ or an ‘herb’ does not mean it is safe, effective or free of contamination.
- Supplements and vitamins can interact with your current prescription medicines. For example, St. Johns Wart, fish oil, garlic, vitamin E, and ginkgo biloba are examples of supplements used by some PD patients that can interact with warfarin to increase bleeding.
- Be sure that the label reflects what is needed. If you are purchasing fish oil based on the benefit of DHA and EPA, are the amounts of these compounds measured and listed on the product label?
- Look for products that are tested for purity, potency and bioavailability (how it is absorbed by the body) by an independent laboratory. This insures accurate and unbiased reporting. Search for products that carry ‘USP’ (United States Pharmacopeia) certification. This independent laboratory tests the purity, potency and bioavailability of products. In effect, this test insures that what is on the bottle label is indeed what is contained in the pill or supplement. Otherwise the actual purity and strength of the substance may not be the same as the bottle label. Consumerlab.com tests different brand names and can give you the same information.
- For more information on this topic and the role of the FDA log onto: www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/ConsumerInformation/ucm110567.htm.