Educational Consumer Tips

Dietary Supplements

Author: Better Business Bureau

The following information was taken from a Federal Trade
Commission brochure on Precautions for Taking Dietary

There are thousands of dietary supplements on the market. Many
contain vitamins and minerals to supplement the amounts of these
nutrients that people get from the food they eat.

Some dietary supplements have documented benefits; the
advantages of others are unproven and claims about those
products may be false or misleading. For example, claims that
you can eat all you want and lose weight effortlessly are not
true. To lose weight, you must lower your calorie intake or
increase your calorie use through exercise. Most experts
recommend doing both. Similarly, no body building product can
tone you up effortlessly or build muscle mass without exercise.
Claims to the contrary are false. Other questionable claims by
makers of dietary supplements may involve products advertised as
effective in curing insomnia, reversing hair loss, relieving
stress, curing impotency, improving memory or eyesight and
slowing the aging process.

In addition to lacking documented effectiveness, some dietary
supplements may be harmful under some conditions of use
according to the US Food & Drug Administration.

According to the FDA, the following substances are among those
that raise serious safety issues at certain concentrations:
chaparral, comfrey, yohimbe, lobelia, germander, willow bark,
guar gun, jin bu huan, ma huang, L-tryptophan, phenylalanine,
and germanium.

In addition, some vitamins and minerals can cause problems for
SOME people when taken in EXCESSIVE doses. These include
vitamin A, niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin d, Iron and folic acid.
And remember that a label of "natural" is no guarantee of a
product's safety or effectiveness.

Consumers who use dietary supplements should always read the
label to determine the percentage of daily requirements for
various nutrients contained in the product. Also, it is a good
idea to seek the advice of a health professional before taking
dietary supplements; particularly for children, adolescents,
older or chronically ill persons and women who are pregnant or
breast feeding.