3 important facts to know before buying supplements

October 9, 2015

You've probably seen countless advertisements boasting about the goodness of supplements. Here are some things to look out for when you're shopping for supplements:

3 important facts to know before buying supplements

1. Have an open mind

  • Approach dietary supplements with an open mind — including a healthy openness to skepticism.
  • Marketing and promotional materials make supplements and other products sound like an obvious choice to use. But don't trust everything you read or hear.
  • Even much of the information published in books or on websites has an advertiser's spin.

2. Beware of unsupported claims

There are certain things to be aware of when evaluating a supplement. Here's what to be aware of, and skeptical about, when supplement shopping:

  • Unquestioning faith: in many cases, labels and advertising will simply state what a product is used for as if there's no doubt that it will work.
  • Vague research: sometimes, "research" or "studies" are cited with no further details about the validity of the research.
  • Testimonials: A favourite "proof" that a therapy works is to quote somebody who says it works, preferably a celebrity. Scientifically speaking, anecdotes are the least convincing form of evidence.
  • History: the fact that a therapy has been used for hundreds or even thousands of years is often held out as evidence of effectiveness. Tradition is not necessarily proof.

3. Research before you buy

  • Do thoughtful research before making any purchase.
  • Never buy something on a whim, or solely because a salesperson has made a convincing case or one-time offer. Any legitimate product will be available tomorrow.
  • Take your time, do your research and read varying opinions about a product before making a decision.
  • Remember to ask your doctor as well.

The trick to taking supplements isn't about whether you take them with food or buy a certain brand. It's whether you did your homework. Stay skeptical and discerning before buying and the results could be more in your favour.

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