Health supplements are a fast-growing industry. According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the supplement industry employs 750,000 Americans and has an economic footprint of $122 billion. A major reason for the growth of supplements is the ability to purchase health supplements online. Looking online for supplements has many advantages. The buyer can consult online customer reviews and easily comparison shop. This is great for saving money and avoiding badly reviewed or misleading products.
However, shopping online for supplements carries its share of risks. Health supplements are regulated by the FDA as a food, not a medicine. This means they are less stringently tested for safety than medications and prescription drugs. It is important to research where you are buying your supplements from and to make sure it is a trusted, reliable source.
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Purchase Health Supplements from a Trusted Retailer
When buying supplements, it is important to make sure you are buying from credentialed health supplement websites. Many companies are appraised by the Better Business Bureau. If the BBB has certified a supplement retailer as trustworthy, you are unlikely to have any problems.
The FDA also has a set of Good Manufacturing Practices. Supplements that meet these practices are usually labeled on their product pages.
Trusted retailers will always be as transparent as possible about the ingredients in their products. They will usually include medical references and resources. If a retailer is claiming a supplement as a miracle cure, or making unsubstantiated claims not backed up by medical science, that retailer may be untrustworthy.
Buying from smaller online retailers can be a great way to support small businesses. However, it’s best to stick to the larger retailers until you have chosen several supplement brands you trust. Their product information is often more complete, and they are likely to be more thorough in their safety practices.
Be Careful on Amazon and eBay
However, there is a major exception to the rule of buying from larger companies. Amazon and eBay allow anyone to open a seller account on their website. Most sellers do not need to provide proof of legitimacy, a website, or even contact information. Amazon has a large selection of goods it officially offers, but many products are sold by third-party sellers as well.
It’s possible to purchase health supplements safely from these websites, but be extra careful. Make sure the seller has many positive reviews and a long history of successful sales, as well as a website where you can research more information.
Look At the Supplement Itself
Even if you’re confident in the retailer you’re buying from, it is still a good idea to look at the supplement itself. There are several signs in product descriptions that can help you ensure that you are getting a supplement of the highest possible quality.
Look at labels on products or online descriptions for certifications from organizations like ConsumerLab.com or the United States Pharmacopeia. These organizations act as watchdogs. They make sure certified products contain the ingredients they say they do. They also make sure that they are manufactured under safe conditions.
Detailed Product Information
All ingredients for supplements should be complete and specific. They should contain information about the manufacturer. They should also contain the percentage of the main vitamin or nutrient in the supplement. All products should also come stamped with an expiration date.
The Department of Health’s Dietary Supplement Label Database is a great place to look at the labels of many different supplements.
Most health supplements are sold in either opaque plastic bottles or a dark brown glass container. This is because many health supplements include sensitive ingredients that are best kept away from light and heat.
Depending on the supplement, an inadequate container can be a sign of a less trustworthy buyer.
Define Your Terms
The more specific you are with your supplement needs, the more likely you are to find a supplement dealer online that is right for you. That means finding out exactly what vitamins or other substances it is you need – not just generally looking for a product that promotes itself as improving health
It’s also important to familiarize yourself with medical terms. The world of health can be confusing.
For instance, make sure you are looking for the right definition of “health supplements,” as this can also refer to Medicare add-ons, such as this overview on Medicare supplement plan G.
Know Your Tainted Products
The FDA provides a list of tainted products marketed as dietary supplements. This list is not exhaustive, but it is a great resource. If a product is on this list, it is important to stay away.
Some of these products can cause permanent damage with sustained use, or react badly with other medications.
Most of the products on this list claim to either stimulate weight loss or increase sexual performance. If you are looking for a supplement for this purpose, it’s important to be as careful as possible. Consult a medical professional before purchasing a supplement for this purpose.
Health Supplements and You
Buying health supplements online can be a fantastic way to improve your health and make your body work for you. With a critical eye and a little patience, you can buy health supplements and experience many positive effects. These could include better focus, a better night’s sleep, or fewer aches and pains.
Always consult your doctor or another medical professional if you are confused or concerned about health supplements. Even if a supplement seems innocuous, it’s always best to double-check.
Many supplements can have adverse effects when combined with other medications. They can also interact with the food you eat and with stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol. When it comes to what you put in your body, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!