Learn the Facts, Leave the Fear

It’s time for yet another physician and pharmacist to tell the public to “steer clear” of all dietary supplements.

The authors state truly—as I have—that most supplements are made in substandard facilities, contain contaminants, and might not even contain the ingredients stated on the label.  And I’m impressed the authors’ hospital has taken steps to verify the quality of dietary supplements used by their patients.  But the conclusions made and recommendations given both leap past existing knowledge and ignore existing resources.

First, since the authors make a point of telling readers supplements might be harmful, I was surprised they claimed melatonin is safe without also taking a few words to identify its risks and interactions.  Don’t get me wrong — melatonin is indeed a great option for many people — but partial information from licensed medical professionals is what can lead to the numerous adverse reactions the authors cite as a concern.

Second, the ongoing claim by medical professionals that all dietary supplements lack scientific evidence is not only tiresome, but untrue.  Perhaps medical professionals could gain a better understanding of the supporting evidence by at least skimming the information offered by the University of Maryland Medical Center, the Mayo Clinic, or numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals.  They could also consult their counterparts in Canada and Germany, where regulatory agencies have already determined the safety and efficacy of numerous dietary supplements and incorporate them into standard treatment protocols.

Lastly, the authors recommend consumers seek the “U.S.P. Verified” label as the gold standard of quality.  This is a stance held by many in the medical community; the U.S.P. does, after all, sponsor and support the education of many in the field.  But as I’ve stated before, such certifications don’t indicate the highest quality.  USP doesn’t require product purity; it merely limits the amount of contamination that can come from pesticides and other harmful substances.

The authors also mentioned calling the FDA to confirm whether your supplement manufacturer has met Good Manufacturing Practices.  You don’t have to do that (and neither do they, truly) because the FDA provides the information online to any consumer.  In fact, a quick cross-reference will show a “USP Verified” manufacturer has been cited for failing to properly prevent contamination of its products.

I’ll be honest: every article like this makes me more and more glad I can offer Choose Well to consumers who want the highest quality supplements, and are willing to take responsibility for their own wellness.  It’s also a great resource for medical professionals who want to offer their patients complete and accurate guidance on evaluating dietary supplements.

I’m not a physician or pharmacist, but I am educated and intelligent. Facts exist regardless of the credentials of the persons stating them.  As always, I invite my readers to follow the links, read the research, and make their own decisions.

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About blair

Writer, educator, speaker, karateka, and proud single parent. Actively wondering every day.
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