Curious as to which supplements work? Worried about safety concerns. This is an extremely common question we get. It turns out that there isn’t much literature from traditional medical textbooks or traditional peer reviewed medical journals in terms of general guidelines. There is very little training in either medical school or residency as well. People are constantly bombarded with marketing claims that certain supplements cure such and such disease. You will then often hear the quick disclaimer “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.“ FDA Link. This statement is used by many companies who sell supplements to mitigate any legal recourse against them. So despite the claim that it can take care of your insomnia or heartburn, they contradict that statement with the legal disclaimer.
It is important that when choosing a supplement, that it is either USP or NSF certified. You may see the USP certification on the supplement. NSF or the National Sports Foundation, is a nonprofit organization that certifies supplement manufacturers to ensure quality controls. Unfortunately, there is no oversight on supplement manufacturer quality and there have been numerous lawsuits that have done an analysis on many supplements at your most common retail stores showing impurities or not even containing the ingredients it claims to contain. This can lead to medical problems including liver injury. Hepatology Journal: Liver injury from herbal and dietary supplements. You can also download the NSF app and click on product type to look for certified supplement manufacturers.
Does this mean not to take supplements then? No, there are many cases in which supplements can show benefits. When trying to verify claims made about a supplement, it is extremely important to ensure that multiple studies have been conducted for the condition you are seeking treatment. In other words, you may have 5 studies showing benefit of supplement X to treat a particular symptom, but there may also have been 10 studies showing no effect. It is very easy to only show the 5 studies that showed benefit from the company trying to sell. So do your proper homework. In addition, it is preferable to find studies with larger numbers of patients and studies that are randomized, controlled and double blinded. Observational studies are helpful, but can be extremely misleading. You can easily search for studies using Pubmed. It is a free resource for anyone interested in researching any study.
By: Ryan Adami, DO
December 7, 2021