Be Supplement Savvy: 8 Tips For Consumers

Choosing a nutrition supplement can be a challenge. So many decisions go into choosing the right supplement and along the way sales people and companies try to sell products that may or may not be necessary.

To help avoid some of the confusion, here are some tips to help consumers choose the right supplement and avoid paying good money for a product that doesn’t work or is inappropriate.

1) Check with a registered dietitian, doctor or pharmacist before using a supplement. Our customer service reps are always available to answer your questions, and they can also consult with our staff registered dietitian. For supplement questions, call 1-800-689-8221. 

2) Consider the total diet first. Supplements are not meant to replace eating healthy food.

3) “Natural” ingredients do not mean a product is safe. Some products may interact with medications and other supplements and cause serious adverse effects. Read the supplement label, follow all direction and heed any warning.

4) If you are an athlete, some supplements may contain ingredients that can cause you to test positive for banned substances. The ingredients may not be declared on the label. Always buy from reputable companies.

5) Look for well-known brands from respected companies. The manufacturer should be able to demonstrate the product passes tests for content potency, purity and uniformity, answer questions and/or address complaints. If not, do not use the product.

6) The label should provide accurate and appropriate information. If the label is unclear or makes preposterous claims, it is unlikely the company follows good quality control procedures.

7) Be wary of sales people trying to sell more than is needed. Also beware if the claims for the product sound too good to be true.

8) The three categories of supplements with the most dangerous ingredients, including banned substances, are supplements for weight loss, body building and sexual enhancement.


Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition web page.

National Consumers League. A consumer’s guide to dietary supplements.

NSF Dietary Supplements Certification Program.

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