As Doctors, we spend a great deal of time talking to our patients about ways that vitamins can help or hurt them. Our patients often coming in asking two questions: First, “which vitamins should I take?” and then, “which vitamins should I buy?” . These are complicated questions which do not have a one size fit’s all answer. We founded Vous Vitamin® and started making Personalized Multivitamins to meet individual needs to answer the first question. To help address which vitamins you should buy we did several years of research and here are a some of the things we found.
It turns out that the supplement industry is highly unregulated and resides outside of the FDA’s jurisdiction. This means that no one is necessarily overseeing the manufacturing of these products. Unlike prescription medicine or even over the counter medicines, vitamins and supplements can essentially fly under the radar of any regulatory agency. Just about anything goes when making these products. Pretty scary, we think.
What does that mean for you? How do you know which are safe supplements? How do you know what is listed on the label is what is actually in the bottle? How do you know what is on the label is actually safe?
This is the source of much of the confusion for our patients and customers and the basis of our award winning book – The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. Unfortunately, in many cases you just don’t know. For example, just this fall under CVS’s own label, CVS Homeopathic Children’s Teething Tablets were found to contain the poison, Belladonna.
So how can we avoid buying products that can harm us? We have come up with some suggestions to help guide you in the process of figuring out what vitamins to buy.
- Always look for a legitimate seal of approval. Some supplements manufacturers volunteer to be certified or registered and undergo an independent evaluation. If they do so and obtain a respected seal of approval, this means they are likely producing well made products. In figuring out which vitamins to buy the best seals to look for to find safe supplements are: GMP – Good Manufacturing Practice, USP – United States Pharmacopeial Verification, or NSF – National Sanitation Foundation Certification . Vous Vitamin® takes safety very seriously and has a voluntary GMP certification from our manufacturer.
- Don’t go for big claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. For example, Lose 50 pounds in 5 days, Gain the Energy of Your Youth, and Male Potency Enhancers. These type of products have been found to contain unlabeled amphetamines and even prescription medications which can be dangerous to your health, especially if mixed with other medications. A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that there are an average of 23,000 Emergency Room visits per year related to vitamins and supplements. Pills that sound like magic, often lead to big health problems.
- Talk to Your Doctor. In this day of shared information it is hard to know who is a trustworthy source for vitamin information. The media sends many conflicting messages and new research is constantly coming out. Finding a credible, trusted source can be challenging and many physicians don’t have the time in typical office visits to discuss vitamins and supplements (nor do they necessarily have training on the subject). The Vitamin Solution can help answer some of the questions that your doctor may not.
- Everyone is an Individual. Realize that the right vitamins for your sister, best friend or hair dresser, may not be right vitamins to take for you. We all have different diets, lifestyles and health concerns, so we do not need the same vitamins. Finding the right balance and amounts of vitamins in a good personalized multivitamin from a quality source is likely the way to go.
Next time you wander through the store wondering what vitamins to take and which supplements to buy, please refer back to this list of helpful hints. We know that supplement safety is an overwhelming topic and we hope we can help your figure which vitamins to take to feel your best and find your best health.
Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three active adolescent boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health. She is a mother of three teen agers. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients. After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take, Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015). Take your vitamin survey now to get exactly the right vitamins for your needs.
The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice. The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.