In the past, if you took a multivitamin, it was the height of nutrition. You probably grew up on a chewable like Flintstones and your mom took One A Day (plus iron of course), and your grandparents got theirs from Geritol. Today, in addition to a wide selection of multivitamins, there are supplements available for just about everything.
Over 170 million Americans take supplements. These come in the form of pills, powders and even essential oils. People use them to treat chronic pain, joint pain, memory issues, energy issues and more. There are even several tinnitus relief options available if you have a problem with ringing in your ears. But do these supplements work? How do you find out without going to great expense buying them? The answer to these questions isn’t simple. Since they aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are no standards in place to qualify them.
Consult Your Doctor
Before taking any supplement, notify your doctor and pharmacy. Just because they aren’t drugs, doesn’t mean they can’t react with them. After that, it’s time to do some homework.
Ask Your Friends
While not all supplements work the same for everyone, asking people you know and trust about their experience is always helpful. These are people who will give you an honest answer. If it works for them, they are going to tell you that, usually in a glowing way. If it doesn’t, they’re going to be honest about that too.
Check the Internet
The Internet is a wealth of information but only if you look in the right places. Chances are you can find a website that will tell you anything you want to hear. The key to finding the best information is to check reputable websites like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic.
Where you don’t want to look is to the maker of the supplement. While they may have great websites, fancy videos and impressive statistics, they are really out to sell their products. Any information obtained from them should be corroborated by independent studies found elsewhere.
Use your favorite search engine (Google, Bing, etc.) and search for the name of the supplement you are considering followed by the word “reviews”, you should find a few sites that aren’t connected with a manufacturer that have actual user reviews. Amazon is another option as they make sure the reviewers are actual purchasers of the products. When you read the reviews, look for overall ratings. If 5 percent of the people love it and 75 percent hate it, that’s an overwhelming majority. Read some positive and negative reviews, and never just one. To get a good general feel for how a supplement works, you should read a lot of reviews, both good and bad, and look for trends. If a majority of the bad reviews all mention the same thing, like a bad side effect, that’s probably a good indication that there’s an issue there to be concerned about.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to supplements, the general consensus is that they might be helpful in some cases. Some people swear by them and others think they are nothing more than a modern-day snake oil. The key to finding options that work for you is to do your research. And then, of course, try them yourself.