Reacting to News About Contaminated Supplements

Recently, there has been some negative press about the safety of supplements and once again I want to comment on this.

Nutritional supplements refer to products ranging from vitamins to herbs, and almost everything in between. Walk into your local grocery store, box store or drug store and the selection can be overwhelming; one can find products being promoted for almost any known condition. Many stores sell these products, and the truth is that the store employees are not likely to be well trained in the proper use of these products. You have a better chance of finding a knowledgeable salesperson at a specialty health food store. Your physician, if trained in the use of them, can also be a great resource for information about nutritional supplements.

There has long been controversy about nutritional supplements, both in regards to their usefulness and their quality and safety. They are not drugs, and thus are not regulated by the FDA. Some people assume, then, that there are no standards by which supplements are measured.

Thankfully, this is not true, and there are supplement companies that hold their products to what is known as the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) and are tested for safety and quality. These products are tested for purity, for lack of contaminants, and for being sourced form ingredients whose qualities are tested. This is important; we don’t want to be ingesting products that are contaminated with heavy metals or that contain ingredients that are not supposed to be included. Also, we want to make sure that the product has what it says it has.

There are third party testing companies that will test products and the results are available to the public.

Generally, the nutritional supplements that are available through physicians are produced under this higher standard, as are some of the products that are more widely available.

My advice is to consult your physician when buying dietary and nutritional supplements, and make sure you are purchasing a product that adheres to the Good Manufacturing Practices.

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