What Should you Look for When Buying Supplements?

Healthy or risky? From different types of vitamins and minerals to blends of nutrients and herbs, there are a number of supplements available in the market that claim to have potential health benefits.

While there is evidence that certain supplements can help improve overall well-being and health, it is not true that they are – 

  1. Really necessary
  2. Have no risks or side effects
  3. Are of high quality

While you may be consuming your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, it is important to take into consideration the quality and brand of your supplements. 

When consumed properly, some supplements may improve your health, but some can just prove to be ineffective or even harmful.

Due to poor regulation, at times toxic chemicals and unnecessary ingredients do make it to these vitamin and mineral bottles that can be potentially dangerous.

Here’s what you need to know about possible harmful effects before you pop that vitamin, mineral, or herbal pill.

This guide covers all you need to know about supplements and their possible harmful effects before you pop that pill –

Are your supplements FSSAI approved?

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued regulations with respect to licensing and registration of food business, manufacturing, packing and labeling, food product standard, and so on.

Standards for Health supplements and Nutraceuticals are specified under Food Safety and Standards (Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Food for Special Dietary Use, Food for Special Medical Purpose, Functional Food, and Novel Food) Regulations, 2016; Pdf size:( 2.1 MB). 

These regulations cover eight categories of Functional foods, namely, Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Food for Special Dietary Use, Food for Special Medical Purpose, Specialty food containing plant or botanicals, Foods containing Probiotics, Foods containing Prebiotics, and Novel Foods.

Source – FSSAI website

Now since we know that the FSSAI does evaluate the quality of supplements being brought into the market, we want to read product labels to ensure the safety and quality of the products we buy.

To ensure the safety and efficacy of a product, you can look for supplements that have been certified by FSSAI

Negative interactions with other medications

What does this mean?

Remember, safety first. Always consult with your healthcare provider/doctor before taking any supplements. 

If yes, what are your safe options depending on your individual situation and health concern? They can help you achieve a balance between the foods and supplements you need.

In addition to consulting your doctor on what supplements to consume, you must also be careful of other medications being consumed at the same time.

Which means if you are already on medication, some supplements when mixed with those can have a negative effect on your body. 

For example, vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of bleeding in those on blood-thinning medications, while calcium supplements may limit the effectiveness of antibiotics and reduce the absorption of iron from foods and supplements. 

(Source – Healthline)

Do you need supplements? 

It’s important to understand that not everyone needs a supplement. 

Most health experts agree that adults who eat a wide range of nutritious foods have no need for supplements.

Taking supplements is no substitute for healthy lifestyle choices, such as exercising and eating a balanced diet.

But it also depends on your age, your diet, or if you have a certain medical condition that might require you to add a supplement to your diet.

But who can take multivitamins? While there is no harm as such to consuming supplements, a blood test can help you determine any missing nutrients from your diet. 

People who should consider taking supplements – 

  • Someone who is on a special diet and needs nutrition in the form of supplements
  • Individuals who have certain long term or short term medical conditions or surgical procedures
  • Individuals who have vitamin deficiencies like iron or Vitamin D
  • The elderly who are at a risk for poor food intake and do not get their daily vitamin needs from their food

Hidden Ingredients in Your Supplements

Yes, your supplements do contain dangerous ingredients. Shocking? I know.

Many supplements contain fillers that help bind all the ingredients together. So, when you are buying supplements and vitamins, always remember to read the labels. 

Watch out for the following additives –

  • Hydrogenated Oils – most commonly found in highly processed foods and bakery products, they are used to increase the shelf life of the products. These oils are not a healthy type of fat, instead it can contribute to heart diseases, bad cholesterol etc.
  • Artificial Colours and Flavours – Artificial and “natural” flavours in supplements come in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, artificial sweetener, flavour enhancers and and other unnecessary ingredients in your vitamins.

The FDA states that artificial colours in your vitamins are added to: “Offset colour loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in colour; enhance colours that occur naturally; provide colour to colourless and ‘fun’ foods.”

These artificial colours and flavours are linked to health issues.

  • Titanium Dioxide – It is most commonly used in paint, cosmetics, paper, and sunscreen products and has no actual health value. It only acts as a filler to whiten products.
  • Magnesium Silicate- It is used as an anti-caking agent in powdered or capsulated supplements.

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