Supplement Safety: Who Can You Trust?

From the Show: Naturally Savvy
Summary: There's been some recent buzz lately about the safety of supplements - or rather, lack of safety - even in some of the popular Big Box store brands.
Air Date: 2/25/15
Duration: 10
Host: Andrea Donsky, RHN and Lisa Davis, MPH
Guest Bio: Ashley Koff, RD
Ashley-KoffAshley Koff is an internationally-renowned registered dietitian who believes better nutrition is simple and is on a mission to help anyone achieve their personal health goals by providing simple but highly effective tips and strategies. A self-described “Qualitarian,” Koff emphasizes the value of quality nutritional choices in achieving optimal health and has developed tools such as The AKA Qualitarian Nutrition Plan and The AKA Personal Shopper to help facilitate this.

Koff is widely sought after for her knowledge and ability to translate nutrition science into practical and motivating messages and appears regularly in the National Media, has authored two books and speaks frequently on the topic of better quality choices for better health.
Supplement Safety: Who Can You Trust?
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There's been some recent buzz lately about the safety of supplements -- or rather, lack of safety -- even in some of the popular Big Box store brands.

How do you know if your supplements are safe?

According to Registered Dietitian, Ashley Koff, there are certain things you need to consider, first and foremost, when contemplating supplement use. 

First, there's no supplement out there that can out-do a poor quality diet. If you're turning to supplements, you should first look at the quality of the foods you're eating and start there.

Second, the best case scenario for a poor-quality supplement is that it's just a waste of money. Worse? A lot of supplements don't carry the ingredients they claim to, or they might have the advertised ingredients, but also contain other ingredient "fillers." Or, they might have the right ingredient/nutrient, but the way the nutrient has been processed becomes foreign to your body. Calcium supplements are often a big offender in that regard.

Third, your doctor needs to be informed about everything you're putting in your body... not just your prescription medications. Certain interactions can occur that might cause one health condition to develop when you think you're fixing another. Koff gives the example of a woman who was taking a high dosage of a fiber supplement and ended up with high blood pressure (and being put on a blood pressure medication) because of the licorice root in the fiber supplement.

Finally, look at your supplement as just one element of your overall nutritional plan. It should act as part of the foundation for complete, optimal nutrition -- not replace it.

If you're not quite sure which supplements are safe and which are questionable, you can always look for the GMP stamp of approval (Good Manufacturing Practices). Also, you should shop for your supplements like you shop for your food; look for whole food, organic nutrients. 

In the accompanying audio segment, Koff explains more about the recent supplement safety issues, the top things you should be aware of when shopping for supplements, and specific brands she knows to be legitimate.

Sylvia Anderson

Originally from Minnesota, Sylvia moved to California for the sun, sand and warm temperatures. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in English and Communications, both of which she has put to good use in her work with RadioMD as Senior Editor.