What to look for in a label
Choosing a supplement can be confusing. Not all brands are equal, and how do you know that you’re actually getting what the label says?
“Quality matters if you hope to see a benefit and reduce the risk of harm,” says Melinda Ring, MD, executive director at the Osher Center for Integrative Health at Northwestern University. “Remember that ‘natural’ doesn’t equal safe.”
Nearly 60% of adults in the U.S. take at least one supplement, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many do equate natural with safe. Yet, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has minimal regulatory oversight in the supplement industry. The FDA classifies supplements as food, which means companies don’t have to prove their safety and effectiveness prior to bringing them to market.
Talk to your doctor about any supplements you take to make sure you’re taking them at safe levels and they don’t interact with other medications. “Ideally, I encourage people to work with an integrative physician, naturopath, or herbalist with experience supervising appropriate use of natural products,” Ring says.
To sort top supplements from lesser quality, know what to look for in a label.