Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

4 Ways to Determine if Your Nutritional Supplement Is Healthy for You

Food
4 Ways to Determine if Your Nutritional Supplement Is Healthy for You

They may seem like "easy fixes," but multivitamins, dietary supplements and energy-boosting pills may not be the safe cures they promise to be. A new federal study, completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in association with the Food and Drug Administration and published in the New England Journal of Medicinereports that supplements were the reasons behind approximately 23,000 emergency room visits each year.

The complications with the supplements show that the popular pills can have seriously adverse effects. Photo credit: Shutterstock

From heart problems—which include irregular heartbeat and chest pain—to choking on pills or even accidental ingesting of pills by children, the complications with the supplements show that the popular pills can have seriously adverse effects.

Weight loss and energy pills—the most common supplements taken—were behind the majority of the visits. By studying the emergency visits throughout a 10-year period of time, researchers investigated the ones where dietary supplements were involved. Patients reported severe allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting and heart troubles, from having taken supplements. But as one doctor notes, the statistics may not even scratch the surface.

"This is just a sampling of emergency rooms around the country," says Mark Moyad, MD, MPh, author of The Supplement Handbook. "Patients who have side-effects from supplements don't always think of emergency rooms. They think of urgent care or their primary care doctors. If [this study] is not capturing all of the urgent cares and minute clinics and visits to the internists or primary care doctors, that number is much higher."

In fact, as the study notes, the 23,000 patients who visited the emergency room are just one-tenth of one percent of the number of people who use supplements. But as Moyad points out, it could be much higher.

"This has been a long time coming and I think the real number are a lot larger than this," Moyad adds.

So if you're considering adding a supplement to your diet, follow Moyad's top recommendations for supplement care:

1. Read the Ingredient List

"When you look at a lot of products on sale today, they have a list of ingredients," says Moyad. In reality, your supplement should not have a blend of ingredients. "If you go to a health foods store and buy melatonin, for example, you're buying melatonin," Moyad continues. "But when you go to a CVS or a Walgreens, a lot of the products say 'melatonin' on the front, but have a mixture of ingredients companies have put together to create a proprietary or unique blend. The problem with those blends is that they've never been tested on human beings."

2. Read the Studies

With your doctor—or individually—look up the actual study that proves a specific supplement should be used. "By doing a little bit of homework and looking up the paper, you can reward the research that went throuth the study," Moyad says. "The supplement industry is a $35 billion business and there are are many fly-by-night companies, so looking up the facts and specific ingredients used in a study, you can get the best products."

3. Get Verified

"Don't be shy to look on the supplement's website, call the company or look on the bottle for some kind of label," Moyad adds. "Look for items that have the NSF stamp. It's a third-party control system—used by the NFL—that audits supplement companies and it means that your product has gone through some scrutiny."

4. Set a Higher Standard

"This should up the threshold of what people should require of their supplements," Moyad says. "Instead of getting information, people are being clinical trials of one and they're signing up to be a clinical project." That means speaking to a doctor, confirming that a supplement will deliver on its promises and not buying pills simply thanks to their celebrity endorsements. "Take an extra effort," he adds. "Supplements can really change your life if they're done correctly."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Dr. Mark Hyman: 7 Ways to Tackle Lyme Disease

50 Powerful Sources of Plant-Based Protein

Can Drinking Water Help You Lose Weight?

5 Smoothie Ingredients to Fuel Your Workout + Recipe

The National Weather Service station in Chatham, Massachusetts, near the edge of a cliff at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Bryce Williams / National Weather Service in Boston / Norton

A weather research station on a bluff overlooking the sea is closing down because of the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Amsterdam is one of the Netherlands' cities which already has "milieuzones," where some types of vehicles are banned. Unsplash / jennieramida

By Douglas Broom

  • If online deliveries continue with fossil-fuel trucks, emissions will increase by a third.
  • So cities in the Netherlands will allow only emission-free delivery vehicles after 2025.
  • The government is giving delivery firms cash help to buy or lease electric vehicles.
  • The bans will save 1 megaton of CO2 every year by 2030.

Cities in the Netherlands want to make their air cleaner by banning fossil fuel delivery vehicles from urban areas from 2025.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Protestors stage a demonstration against fracking in California on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

A bill that would have banned fracking in California died in committee Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER / E+ / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

As world leaders prepare for this November's United Nations Climate Conference in Scotland, a new report from the Cambridge Sustainability Commission reveals that the world's wealthiest 5% were responsible for well over a third of all global emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.

Read More Show Less
The saguaro cactus extracts carbon from the atmosphere. Thomas Roche / Getty Images

By Paul Brown

It may come as a surprise to realize that a plant struggling for survival in a harsh environment is also doing its bit to save the planet from the threats of the rapidly changing climate. But that's what Mexico's cactuses are managing to do.

Read More Show Less