Supplements: Which Ones Can You Trust?

Nutritional supplements are basically unregulated by any governmental agency, since they are not considered medicine.  You will notice each product will have a disclaimer regarding any statements made about potential benefits ("may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease").  Most commonly the disclaimer will be something like:

"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."

Does that mean they have no health benefits?  No, it only means the purported benefits have not been rigorously evaluated according to government standards. 

AND the manufacturers and retailers are free to suggest benefits without being able to prove the benefit.

AND there is little or no governmental testing of product purity or whether ingredient labels are accurate.

In a perfect world, manufacturers would be ethical, adhere to high standards, and have our best interests at heart.  They would make sure their products contain what they advertise and do what they say (or imply).  Unfortunately, the supplement industry appears to often fall short of those standards.  See this link for one example: 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers

There are some private organizations that are filling the need for unbiased testing.  The one I subscribe to is www.consumerlab.com (with a monthly fee).   Another "free" lab is at www.Labdoor.com.; free for basic info though detailed results are $150/yr. 

However, the technical reports are somewhat "information dense" and may be more useful if summarized. 

We will be systematically reviewing all supplements that are recommended through La Mer, plus commenting upon newsworthy developments as they occur.

It should be noted that I personally use a probiotic, vitamin D, omega-3, Juice Plus+, and melatonin. More on these in the near future.

So.......can we trust some supplements?    Yes, just not all of them!


Article written by Doug Peterson, PhD.

Doug Peterson is our clinical psychologist on the team. He received his doctorate in Psychology from State University of New York at Binghamton. Cognitive behavioral therapy is his approach to psychotherapy. Dr. Peterson has special interest in issues associated with aging and the management of chronic medical conditions.