Beth, 35, believes in the use of supplements. She takes her daily multivitamin supplement with antioxidants to help her “age gracefully.” She has tried cranberry pills, along with her antibiotics, for her recurrent bout of urinary tract infections. On various occasions, she has tried glutathione capsules for her skin, melatonin tablets to help her sleep, and even glucosamine when she had joint pains at one time. She has also used herbal supplements for her cough and colds. Beth is comfortable adding supplements to whatever her doctor will prescribe as she says they help in keeping her healthy and that there’s “no harm in trying.” But is there?
Supplements for good health?
According to the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, and other substances intended for ingestion in a tablet, capsule, powder, soft gel, or liquid form. Dietary supplements and herbal remedies aren’t classified as drugs. They aren’t intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure disease.
In 2007, the U.S. FDA issued Good Manufacturing Practices to ensure that supplements are produced in a quality manner, don’t contain contaminants or impurities, and are accurately labeled. But even if manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products before they’re marketed, they’re also exempt from regulations and testing required for prescription drugs. Any reports of adverse events are required to be reported back to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, randomized controlled trials regarding efficacy and safety are rarely performed.
Luisito Llido, M.D., an active consultant of the Clinical Nutrition section of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, says supplements are acceptable if they fulfill the following criteria: