If you are considering taking a supplement to enhance your training, lose weight, or for health benefits, there are some factors you should take into consideration.
- There are supplement labels and there a food labels. In order for something to get a food label, it has to be approved by the FDA. Most supplements have a supplement label and regulations are very loose. The claims that the manufacturer makes are not regulated by the FDA so they can pretty much say whatever they want to say. However, within the supplement world, there are a few organizations that will put their stamp on a product certifying that what is on the label is actually in it, and that it doesn’t contain anything harmful such as steroids. A couple stamps you should look for are NSF (NSF International) and USP (U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention). Another label out there is GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) which ensures that the product meets certain manufacturing standards. You’re going to pay a little more for USP and NSF labeled products, but at least you have some assurance of what you are getting.
- Many supplements have no known recommended daily allowances for human consumption. In other words, it isn’t known how much you should take or what level of consumption could be harmful. Just recently, the FDA asked supplement makers to stop using DMAA in products because there have been 86 illnesses or deaths associated with it.
- Do your research. Take supplements that have studies done with humans that actually back up what they claim. A great example is Juice Plus+. It has university research studies done showing that it actually helps improve many aspects of health, and it has a food label instead of a supplement label since it is made from fruits and veggies. It also has the NSF stamp on the bottle. Other supplements that have research behind them are Omega-3 Fish Oil supplements and Whey Protein or Whey Protein Isolate.
- Be wary of products that claim to be a magic pill. None of those supplements you hear about on the radio have research done specifically with them or have the USP or NSF label. Nothing beats a good diet plan when it comes to losing weight anyway.