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    You Ask, I Answer: Buying Vitamins

    uspSince vitamins are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, how does one know if  they are getting what they pay for?

    My local store says that you have to go on faith, however, my faith in companies is at an all time low ebb.

    Do you have any guidelines for the purchase of vitamins other than “faith?”

    — Barlow (Last name withheld)
    Westchester, NY

    Yes, there are two steps you can take to ensure you are getting higher-quality vitamin supplements.

    Number one: look for the “USP Verified” logo on packaging.

    USP — U.S. Pharmacopeia — is “a voluntary testing and auditing program that helps dietary supplement manufactures ensure the production of quality products for consumers” through laboratory testing, quality control, and manufacturing audits.

    You can see a list of USP-verified supplements on their website.

    Number two: for thirty dollars a year (less than three dollars a month!), you can subscribe to ConsumerLab.com, a private company that provides third-party assessment of thousands of supplements.

    Unless you purchase a large amount of niche supplements — which I don’t believe most people need to do — looking for USP certification should suffice.

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    2 Comments

    1. Bill M. said on October 13th, 2009

      Andy,

      Are you aware of any side effects resulting from ingesting fish oil capsules? Specifically, a relative of mine is very sensitive to many compounds (a number of prescription drugs in particular). Her (highly regarded) GP advised her to start fish oil supplementation, possibly in connection with high cholesterol. Since taking the supplements, she has experienced itchiness, has developed some sores (similar to psoriasis) and says that she has experienced cuts more frequently with higher than normal bleeding from the cuts. Have there been any studies conducted that point to such possible side effects? Thank you.

    2. Susan Sanders said on October 13th, 2009

      Andy,
      Could you comment on the following article from Dr. Chet Zelasko regarding supplement regulators?
      http://www.drchet.com/pdf/2009pdf_Messages/07-2009pdf/07-18-2009–Regulators.pdf
      Thanks

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