Are Supplements Safe?
Supplements have steadily gained importance and social sanction because of which the supplement industry is flourishing at an unprecedented rate. Newer brands are coming up with so-called innovative never-before-seen products. In addition, the recent scientific breakthrough is leading to better purity and higher bioavailability of supplements. From supplements for faster recovery to explosive power, from sharper mental focus to better sleep & anti-ageing, from multivitamins to testosterone boosters, we get supplements for everything under the sun. But, with so many kinds of supplements around us, one question needs to be answered – Are Supplements Safe?
WHAT are Supplements?
WHO needs Supplements?
It is important to note that we have been consuming supplements in one form or the other throughout human history. Today, infants are prescribed supplements like vitamin D and formula milk, children consume milk added with supplements like malt-based powders, adults consume supplements like chyawanprash, immunity boosters, gym-goers & athletes take supplements like amino acids, creatine, protein, antioxidants etc.
If our diet is deficient in any micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, trace elements etc. or macronutrients like fats or proteins, supplements will help overcome the deficit. Deficiency can be in terms of quantity, quality a combination of both. If we get all the required nutrition through diet alone, then there is no need for supplementation in any form.
Supplements are required if we can’t obtain all nutrition from diet alone.
Are Supplements SAFE?
Let’s look at the factors that affect the safety of supplement consumption.
#1 Do we REQUIRE Supplements?
First, it is essential to check our nutritional requirements and then probe if our diet is deficient in any nutrient we require. Deficiency can be in terms of quality, quantity, or a combination of both. There is no point in consuming supplements without fundamental requirement(s) for the same. For example, there is no point in novice weightlifters consuming creatine. Here’s a blog to check if we require supplements: Are Supplements Necessary?
Any supplement consumed without a requirement can be potentially dangerous.
#2 Supplement OVERDOSE and ABUSE:
Supplement dosage must be calculated and customised for our requirement(s). The dosage depends on our lifestyle, activity levels, goals, and diet. Any overdose or abuse in supplement consumption can sometimes be useless and other times be potentially dangerous. For example, although chances are more petite, excess protein consumption may lead to fat gain, and excess fat burner consumption may be potentially dangerous.
#3 Buying Supplements from a TRUSTED SOURCE:
Buying supplements from a trusted source is of paramount importance. We may find individuals or companies selling popular brands of supplements at just half the price. However, the authenticity of such supplements is highly questionable. Some may be well beyond the expiry date, and some may be adulterated with soy. Hence, make sure to buy from a certified or authorised seller only. Never buy damaged packs of supplements.
#4 Check Supplement CERTIFICATIONS:
There are certification bodies that certify the genuineness of supplements and nutrition information. Such organisations must approve the supplements we consume. Some of the reputed certifications include Informed Sport (here are brands certified by Informed Sport: Informed Sport certified brands, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India or FSSAI, Current Goods Manufacturing Practices or cGMP, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point or HACCP, International Organisation for Standardisation or ISO, The Therapeutic Goods Administration or TGA and Global Organisation for EPA & DHA omega-3s or GOED.
If in doubt, get the supplement tested from a third-party lab.
#5 Brand ETHICS:
Choose ethical brands over unethical ones, even if they are expensive. Check for full disclosure on the nutrition content and ingredients. For example, check if the brand declares total sugar instead of added sugar. Check the source of ingredients, their purity, and the process of extraction. For instance, for hydrolysed protein, check if the brand declares the degree of hydrolysis, which should be greater than 15. Ethical brands will always talk about the science of their formulation rather than what’s trending on the internet.
#6 Mixing Supplements and MEDICATIONS:
Mixing supplements with certain medications can be potentially life-threatening. We can take supplements and medications together, but we need to evaluate if it is okay to do so. It depends on the kind of supplements and medicines that we intend to take together. Speak to your doctor or nutrition consultant and do your research before mixing supplements and medications.
#7 Substituting Supplements for MEDICINES:
Supplements and medicines are not the same. Each plays their role and can’t be replaced by each other. So, never replace supplements with medicines or medicines with supplements.
If our diet is deficient in any micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, trace elements etc. or macronutrients like fats or proteins, supplements will help overcome the deficit. Supplements are required if we can’t obtain all nutrition from diet alone.
Supplements are safe if:
The correct supplement is consumed in the right quantity.
We don’t overdose or abuse supplement consumption.
We buy genuine supplements from a reputed and a trusted source.
The supplement is certified for manufacturing practices, ingredients, processes, and purity.
We consume supplements that are ethically procured, manufactured, marketed, and distributed.
We do not mix or replace supplements with medications.
We hope the article helped in understanding if Supplements are Safe.