When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, most of us are aware that we should be consuming a wide variety of foods in order to get the nutrition our bodies need. The reality – most of our diets are definitely lacking in the vegetable department and depending on the day, most of us could probably benefit from one or two more servings of fruit and whole grains. But let’s be honest, eating the recommended number of servings for each food group on a daily basis can be challenging. Thus, many of us have turned to dietary supplements in hopes that they will provide us with the nutrients we aren’t getting from our diet. But, as a consumer, do you actually know enough about dietary supplements to be certain that they are benefiting you rather than putting your health at risk?
Here are some things you should know before taking a dietary supplement.
What is a Dietary Supplement?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a dietary supplement is defined as a product taken by mouth that contains a ‘dietary ingredient’ intended to supplement the diet. These ingredients include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, as well as substances such as enzymes and metabolites. Supplements can be found in various forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids, or powders.
Are Dietary Supplements Regulated?
Simple answer – Yes. Complicated answer – not as tightly as drugs. So what does that mean?
All prescription and non-prescription drugs are regulated in the US by the FDA and are considered to be unsafe until they are proven safe through clinical trials. Additionally, the FDA must approve new drugs before they can be sold in the US and once approved, they must be manufactured under monitored conditions. Dietary supplements on the other hand are considered safe until proven unsafe. Additionally, they do not have to be proven effective before they appear on the market. Why is this?
In 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was signed into law which changed the FDA’s regulatory approach to this product category. According to this legislation, supplements are considered a food rather than a drug. Therefore, the safety of dietary supplements is based on existing food standards. Additionally, DSHEA has set forth the following guidelines:
• Dietary supplements cannot contain anything that may have ‘a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury’ when the supplement is used as directed on the label, or with normal use if there are no directions on the label.
• If a supplement contains an ingredient not recognized as a food substance before October 1994, the manufacturer must provide the FDA with reasonable evidence that the new ingredient is safe before the supplement is marketed to the public. Though no clinical trials are required to ensure safety of the ingredient.
While DSHEA changed the way that supplements were regulated by the FDA, the FDA still has authority over dietary supplements in a few respects.
1. Product labeling – Marketers of a supplement are required to submit proposed claims to the FDA within 30 days after its first use. These claims are limited to ‘general structure/function’ and cannot state that the supplement prevents or treats disease.
2. Manufacturing practices – Supplement manufacturers are to follow certain ‘good manufacturing practices’. These industry standards were put in place to ensure that dietary supplements contain the right ingredients, are free from contamination, and are accurately labeled.
3. Permission to stop the manufacturing of a dietary supplement if proven to pose a significant risk to consumers.
Concerns with Supplements:
Unfortunately, because the regulation over supplements is not as tightly controlled as that of drugs, some manufacturers have disregarded the good manufacturing practices. This has led to a growing concern over the safety of dietary supplements. These concerns include:
Lack of Standardization of Active Ingredients – The ingredients used in supplements (e.g. vitamins, minerals) are found in plants. The amount of ingredients found in each plant varies depending on several factors including: the plant species, the part of the plant used, the age at harvest, the way the plant is prepared/processed, and the methods of extraction. Therefore, standardization is important as it helps to ensure that every batch of a supplement contains the same amount of each ingredient.
Risk of Contamination – Though many manufacturers are careful about the ingredients they use in their products, some products have been found to be tainted with germs, pesticides, or toxic heavy metals. To protect yourself from exposure to these contaminants, look for the certifications below on dietary supplement packaging.
Having one of these certifications provides evidence that the manufacturer of the supplement is using good manufacturing practices to reduce the risk of contamination.
Potential Interactions with Medications – Because dietary supplements do not undergo rigorous testing before they are put on the market, their interactions with other medications may not be well understood. Therefore, it is important that you talk to a healthcare professional before you start taking a supplement to make sure there are no known interactions with any medications you may be taking.
Is Mommi 3-in-1 a Dietary Supplement?
Yes, Mommi 3-in-1 is considered a dietary supplement. It is a specially formulated product which contains prenatal vitamins, whey protein, and DHA. Mommi 3-in-1 is made by TwinLabs, a NSF® GMP registered facility which manufactures, packages, and distributes over 1,000 premium quality products. So, if you are looking for a great product that can help you meet your daily nutrition needs, Mommi 3-in- 1 is the perfect solution! Using this product, you can rest assured that you are getting the nutrients you need to maintain your health and to support the proper growth and development of your baby.
Questions for Melanie Marshall, Director of Nutrition at Mommi? E-mail her at [email protected] and we will send you a quick response!