Dietary Supplements – 12 Tips for Consumers

Supplements Pic   It’s a safe bet that you’re taking a dietary supplement or have taken them in the past.

According to the results of an October 23, 2015 survey commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) the majority of U.S. Adults – 68 percent – take dietary supplements.

There is a wide variety of choice when purchasing dietary supplements – choice in selecting product categories and specific products and choosing the company or source that sells them.   Some choices are smarter than others, and CRN recommends that consumers do their homework when making their choice of dietary supplements.  Based on CRN’s recommendations here are 12 tips to help you in selecting a dietary supplement.

1.  Manage your expectations.  Dietary supplements are meant as supplements to other healthy habits and should be used in combination with other smart lifestyle choices like exercising regularly, trying to eat a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and seeing your healthcare professional periodically.   Dietary supplements are not drugs and are not intended to have the same immediate impact that drugs are expected to provide.

2.  Don’t look for quick fixes.  a) Expect to lose weight gradually with a supplement for weight loss and combine with proper diet and exercise.  b) When taking a supplement as a sexual enhancement product (like ginko biloba and L-Arginine) they can provide some benefit but not the type of effects you would get with a sexual enhancement drug.  While a dietary supplement may provide subtle, incremental improvement don’t expect immediate results.

3.   If it sounds too good to be true. . .  it probably is.  Be skeptical of dietary supplement products that claim to work instantly, promise miracle results or promise to work instantly.

4.   You want products that are legal.  Stay away from products which claim to be “barely legal”, “in limited supply”, or “won’t be available much longer”.  This could be a tip-off that there may already be some regulatory concern about the product’s safety.

5.   Look for nationally recognized brands or store brands from a trusted retailer.  There are certainly many quality specialty and regional or local products available, but if it’s a company you’re not familiar with, do some research to learn more before you buy.

6.   Look for quality seals or third-party certifications.  There are several independent certification programs that review the manufacturing process for supplement makers.  These third-party certifiers such as NSF International, UL, and USP only award their seal to companies that have passed rigorous examination.  Just keep in mind that the absence of a seal does not mean that a product is of poor quality.

7.   Watch where you buy.  The internet can be a viable option when buying quality supplement products, however several products identified by the FDA as associated with contamination problems are offered only through internet sites from fly-by-night companies.

8.   Look for membership in industry trade association.  Companies with a membership in one of the industry’s five major trade associations (such as CRN) demonstrate long-term commitment to consumers.

9.   Visit the company’s website.  Although a great website doesn’t guarantee a quality product, the absence of any website presence – or one that doesn’t provide a contact number – could be an indication that the company doesn’t intend to be in business long enough to interact with its customers.

10.  Look for product labels and ingredient lists.  Being able to review the product label and list of ingredients can provide an added level of assurance that the product is legitimate.

11.  Look for a company with longevity.  Has the company been marketing products for at least several years, and does it have a good track record?

12.  Avoid companies that regularly undergo name changes.  Companies that constantly change their names may be trying to hide past problems.

We agree with the foregoing CRN recommendations and believe that dietary supplement consumers will be well served by following them.  We recommend Mannatech Dietary Supplements.  To see Mannatech’s Dietary Supplement Report Card regarding CRN’s recommendations, please go here.

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