Overweight people and even those in good shape would like to lose extra weight as quickly as possible. As a result, consumers spend millions of dollars every year on diet supplements. Unfortunately, few of these supplements have any proven positive effect on weight loss. Not only are some of them not effective, but some also pose a danger to your health.
Taking a look at your local drugstore or supermarket will uncover dozens of different diet supplements and weight-loss pills. Most pills are ineffective and untested. While common sense would mean that harmful health supplements are not sold, companies are able to slip through the system in the U.S. because of the standing laws.
Dietary supplements are not subject to the strict standards of pharmaceuticals (Tylenol, Albuterol, Vicodin, etc). Instead, diet supplements are treated as food, which has much lower standards to meet to be legally sold. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors dietary supplements once they are on the market, but they do not test them further. Further testing comes only through consumer complaints or complaints from medical professionals.
The reality surrounding the questionable effectiveness and potential harm that can come from dietary supplements warrants that consumers do their homework before purchasing any particular dietary or weight-loss supplements. Following a few recommendations about purchasing and taking diet supplements can save you from throwing money out the window and from adverse health reactions.
Consult a Physician
It is never recommended to take dietary supplements as a treatment for a self-diagnosed condition. When it comes to weight-loss, the diagnosis may be readily obvious, but many people have a distorted self-image. They believe they are overweight when, in fact, they are not. Talk to a doctor to determine if you need to lose a couple of pounds before looking at supplements to do so.
If your physician or healthcare provider says that you could stand to lose some weight, ask about some of the effective products on the market. If you have a specific product in mind, bring it up. It is even better if you have a list of the ingredients in the product. Here are some questions to ask about specific products:
- What are the health benefits of the supplement?
- What are the safety risks of taking the supplement?
- What is the recommended dose and frequency?
If your doctor cannot provide answers to these questions, he or she should be able to point you to a trusted source of information. If this cannot be done, you have two recommended choices: get a second opinion or do not take the supplement.
If you do not have a particular supplement in mind, your doctor can still be a valuable source of information. Ask for recommendations. If you are given any recommendations, ask why they are recommended.
Diet Supplement Quality
Another problem with diet supplements is not the type of ingredients it contains, but the quality of the ingredients in contains. Some diet supplements are mixtures of many different herbs, plants or extracts. It is important that each capsule or tablet contains exactly what the company claims it contains, both in type of ingredient and the strength of the ingredient. Ingredients should also be pure and unadulterated.
Several independent organizations exist that test the purity and quality of diet supplements. Supplements with one of the following seals of approval have been batch tested and can be trusted:
- U.S. Pharmacopeia
- NSF International
- Natural Products Association
Nevertheless, keep up-to date with the news regarding weight loss supplements you are taking. Check out the FDA.Gov and WebMD for information.
No matter what you do, please speak to a doctor before taking any dietary supplements.