If you’re thinking of taking vitamins, you’re not alone: 86% of US adults already take them every day.
Despite that, only one in five of these consumers have an actual need for the supplements.
Still, some types of vitamins are helpful, such as vitamin B12.
Many adults, especially those aged 50 or over, are lacking in this vitamin.
Taking supplements, therefore, can help them avoid deficiencies.
However, it’s best that you know how to safely buy vitamins, especially if this is your first time doing so.
It’s even more vital if you plan to purchase them online.
To that end, we’ve come up with this list of tips and must-dos when ordering vitamins and supplements.
Read on to learn what you need to do and look for when buying and consuming such products.
Always Consult With Your Doctor First
This is especially true if you’re already taking prescriptions.
As helpful as they may be, some types of vitamins can cause drug interactions.
Drug interactions can occur when you take two or more pharmaceutical products.
Sometimes, the ingredients in these products can react with each other.
This reaction can then result in an unexpected, and most of the time, unwanted side effects.
For example, some dietary supplements can heighten the effect of certain medications.
Others may reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of prescription drugs.
A perfect example is vitamin E, which you should never take with aspirin or warfarin.
Their combination can result in dangerous internal bleeding.
So, to stay safe, make sure you consult your primary physician before taking any vitamins.
This way, you can be sure that they won’t interact with any of your prescriptions.
Thoroughly Examine Labels on Products
There are about 29,000 different dietary supplements available to US consumers today.
On top of that, 1,000 new products get introduced to the market each year.
With so many of them now in grocery aisles and pharmacy shelves, things can get pretty confusing.
That’s why the Food and Drug Administration has put in place certain laws on these products.
One such regulation is the proper labeling of all dietary supplements, including vitamins.
Before you buy any vitamin or supplement, make sure you look for the following in the product’s label.
Statement of Supplement Identity
Under federal law, all dietary supplements must indicate that they are “dietary supplements”.
At the very least, the word “supplement” must be in their label.
For example, vitamin D pills or tablets should have a label that says it’s a “Vitamin D supplement”.
Statement of the Net Quantity Content of the Supplement
Federal law also mandates that dietary supplements state their content’s net amount.
Let’s say you want to purchase a bottle of a gummy vitamin.
Its label should indicate the exact number of gummies the bottle contains.
If there are 100 gummy vitamins in the container, then it should clearly say “100” on the label.
Statement of Nutrition
Another federal law that supplement makers must abide by is to label their nutrients.
This is the “Nutrient Declaration” portion of supplement labeling.
These should include the following if the product contains them in measurable amounts:
- Total calories and calories from fat
- Total fat and saturated fat
- Cholesterol and sodium
- Total carbohydrate
- Dietary fibers
- Sugars and protein
- Vitamins A and C, calcium, or iron
The federal law also mandates supplement makers to list trans fat if the product contains it.
If it does, the label should have a separate line for it just right below the listing of saturated fat.
Statement of Ingredients
All supplements must also have a complete list of their dietary ingredients.
These include any vitamins they contain, be it vitamin A, C, D, E, K, or any of the B vitamins.
Labels must also include any other minerals present in the product, such as calcium or iron.
Statement About the Companies Involved
This part should be about the manufacturer, packer, or distributor of the supplements.
It should include the name and the complete address of all the parties involved.
Some labels may also have the contact information of the companies.
What’s important is to take the time to look up the names of these companies.
Make sure that they actually exist and carry proper licenses and registrations.
This way, you can be certain that they are a legitimate entity.
Stay Away From Products and Websites That Make Claims
Despite federal labeling standards, some supplement makers still make specific claims.
Some may even go as far as to say that their products can treat, cure, or prevent illnesses.
While they may have the potential to boost your health, they can’t make such statements.
So, if you encounter such a product, don’t believe it. That claim is more than likely to be advertising misconduct.
Shop Only From Reputable Vitamin Websites
As mentioned above, thousands of new vitamins and supplements make it to the market each year.
While it’s fine to test these out, make sure that you do as much research as you can about the makers first.
Find out where they’re from and what makes them such a specialist.
While examining the labels of products, look for specific certifications.
These include The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention and ConsumerLabs.
Many products may also bear the logo of NSF International.
These organizations don’t provide guarantees about the safety and effectiveness of supplements.
However, their certification indicates that these products have undergone quality testing.
If you’re not comfortable with new brands, then stick to the more established ones.
Some brands have been around for decades, which be a sign that they make decent products.
Otherwise, federal agencies would have long since cracked down on them.
Stay on Top of FDA Product Recalls and Warnings
Speaking of crackdowns, the FDA says it’ll be more vigilant and proactive in doing such.
This was after the agency found 17 supplement brands claiming to treat Alzheimer’s. Note that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease yet.
With that said, it’s in your best interest to always read news about new FDA warnings.
The agency publishes such informative posts whenever it discovers illegal products.
It also regularly rolls out notifications about product recalls.
Look for Specific Studies Carried Out by the Manufacturer
Reputable supplement manufacturers know how important independent lab tests are.
As such, they publish the results of the tests that their products have undergone on their sites.
Read the test results to ensure that you know what those products contain.
Also, it’s best to note the specific name of the independent laboratory that did the test.
Their contact information should be on the website, too, so make sure you list that down as well.
Then, ring up the lab to confirm they did test that supplement, and the results posted online are factual.
Read Online Customer Reviews
Granted, many online customer reviews may only be marketing ploys.
These usually take the form of raving reviews about how “amazing” or “incredible” a product is.
So, instead of looking for such kinds of reviews, it might be best to search for complaints.
Most of the time, bad experiences with supplements are a more reliable source of info.
Be on the lookout for reviews about side effects, such as nausea or upset stomach.
When In Doubt, Call Your Doctor
During your online search for vitamins and supplements, you may encounter confusing terms.
An example is the word “contraindication.” If you see this, it means that you shouldn’t use the product in certain situations.
For starters, contraindications almost always mean that the product could be potentially harmful.
For example, pregnant or nursing women should avoid certain supplement ingredients.
This may be due to how the ingredients may affect their baby or the safety of their breast milk.
You may also have to hold off on shopping for supplements if you’re undergoing surgery soon.
Many herbal supplements may contain ingredients that can hinder post-surgery recovery.
They may do so by either causing bleeding or slowing the body’s healing process.
You should also avoid Vitamin E before surgery, as it can result in increased bleeding.
The bottom line is to ask your doctor if there’s anything at all that confuses you about a supplement.
Don’t buy or take the product unless your primary physician gives you the green light.
Safely Buy Vitamins by Following All the Tips in This Guide
There you have it, your ultimate guide on how to safely buy vitamins.
The most important of all is to always ask your doctor for advice.
This way, you can reduce your risks of experiencing adverse effects.
Remember: you want to take vitamins to help enhance your health and well-being.
However, improper or unguided use can cause more harm than good.
So, it’s better to be safe by calling up your physician first.
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