There’s a lot of good research backing the health benefits of some supplements.
The problem: While the pills used in scientific studies are carefully tested for quality and dosage accuracy, most consumer OTC supplements are largely unregulated, says Mark Moyad, M.D., director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan. (Ever get prescribed a drug off-label? Here's what that means.)
Dr. Moyad explains that few people are checking to make sure your OTC pills are free of heavy metals and other harmful contaminants. There’s even less oversight when it comes to ensuring the pills you’re taking contain the types and amounts of nutrients listed on the label.
“When you’re taking a pill, you’re also taking a lot of not-natural stuff that’s in that pill—stuff like herbicides, pesticides, hormones, the stuff in the capsule or shell itself, allergens, and even sand, which is used as a stabilizer,” he says.
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While he’s quick to say that supplements can be hugely helpful if you’re sick or trying to treat a specific medical condition, he says that, if you’re healthy, the risks aren’t really worth it. (Here are 3 Supplements That Are Just Wasting Your...