How to decide if a dietary supplement is worth trying


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Chances are, we’ve all felt the need to enhance our athletic performance, aid our weight loss or increase our energy — and everywhere we turn, there are dozens of products claiming to help us reach our goals faster. Everything from multivitamins to meal replacements can be found on the shelves, all labeled “dietary supplements.” But with so many options, choosing — or not choosing — can seem a daunting task.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates dietary supplements as “substances such as vitamins, minerals and herbs used to supplement the diet.” However, supplements are regulated based on safety, not effectiveness — which doesn’t do much to help us decided if a product is worth a shot. Here are a few tips to help decide if a supplement could be of use to you.

  1. Try getting the majority of your vitamins and minerals from a natural diet. According to WebMD, most of what we need is offered in a natural state, combined naturally to help our bodies best absorb the necessary nutrients.
  2. Supplements are not drugs, which means they cannot claim to “treat, diagnose, prevent or cure diseases,” according to the FDA. Products claiming to reduce or treat symptoms should be avoided.
  3. You can go wrong — beware of taking supplements if you regularly use other medications, you’re replacing a prescription or if you have recently or will undergo surgery.
  4. The easiest and most effective tip of all: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Health and wellness doesn’t come from a bottle; it comes from a lifestyle. If you’re looking for a magic fix, a dietary supplement probably won’t produce any miracle results.
  5. Discuss your options with your doctor to make sure there are no potential complications with your current state of health, lifestyle or medications.