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The Truth About Nutrition Supplements

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4 Ways to Protect Yourself

Until adjustments like these are put into place, it's buyer beware. But there are steps you can take to prevent your own private supplement scare.

Be independent. If you or a member of your family takes a lot of supplements, Gurley recommends subscribing to an independent testing service, such as the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database ($92 a year, naturaldatabase.com) or ConsumerLab.com ($27 per year or $44 for two years), to keep tabs on your preferred brands. Quackwatch.org also regularly surveys the supplement industry.

Seek out well-tested products. If you're not interested in joining a subscription service, look for supplements that carry the seal of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), a nonprofit public-health organization that charges manufacturers a fee to conduct independent product testing. The USP seal doesn't indicate that a particular ingredient is safe or effective, but it does ensure that the product you're buying contains what the label says it does, that it's free of contaminants, that it will be properly absorbed into your body, and that it was made using safe manufacturing processes.

Beware of complicated ingredient lists. "The more complex a product is, the more likely it is to have problems," says Dr. Cooperman. And be wary of products that tout a "proprietary formula" or a "uniquely formulated blend." "Those are wiggle words for putting all kinds of things in there without having to explain what they are or why they're there," he says.

Get educated. The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (cfsan.fda.gov/list.html) is ground zero for information on the products of most concern. Click on the "Dietary Supplements" tab to see recent announcements and warnings, or subscribe to the Dietary Supplements/Food Labeling Electronic Newsletter to have them e-mailed to you. If you do experience side effects that you believe may have been caused by a supplement, file an adverse event report with the FDA via the provided link. One person's so-so side effect might be another's really bad one.

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mauth06 wrote:

dthoma03, do you work for Shaklee? It sounds like you're a little biased. I've never heard of that company or their supplements, but I do know that the govermental regulations in this article or inaccurate. I stick with the facts.

11/9/2009 03:16:25 PM Report Abuse
dthoma03 wrote:

In the 2007 Landmark Study conducted in collaboration with researchers from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Dr Gladys Block found people who took Shaklee supplements had markedly better health than those who took a mulitvitamin or no supplements at all. Yoru authors should really do their homework before rendering an opinion. Facts are facts and they did not present them.

11/4/2009 11:35:46 AM Report Abuse
dthoma03 wrote:

Shaklee has over 100 scientific papers 90+ published in peer reviewed journals that support the effectiveness of the Shaklee products. Shaklee has invested over 250 million dollars in clinical testing, research,& development.

11/4/2009 11:35:32 AM Report Abuse
dthoma03 wrote:

Shaklee products have no parabens, triclosan, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), 1,4-dioxane or propylene glycol. There are no banned substances, no dyes, no trans fats & no artificial sweetners or flavors. There is no animal testing. The packaging is safe & free of toxins bisphenol-A, phthalates & toxic links. (see further comment)

11/4/2009 11:33:55 AM Report Abuse
dthoma03 wrote:

This article is grossly inaccurate. Shaklee corporation conducts over 350 tests on every single new ingredient for heavy metals, pesticides, or any of hundreds of other harmful contaminants. They conduct over 80,000 quality tests annually to guarantee the purity & safety of each & every product. (see further comment)

11/4/2009 11:33:07 AM Report Abuse

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