Monday, February 3, 2014

Office of Dietary Supplements: Your internet supplement expert

Juggling work, family, and daily responsibilities – it seems as though there is not enough time in the day. When this is the case, it may be hard finding time to meet with your health care team when you need supplement advice or have related questions. Thus, for supplement advice you may turn to daytime television personalities who tout the next “breakthrough,” or “revolutionary,” supplement. However, doing so can set you up for false hope. Most of the information is based off poorly designed experiments facilitating inconclusive results and therefore misleading claims.  
Although navigating the confusing world of supplements and supplement fraud may be overwhelming – the Office of Dietary Supplements has made it their mission to help you untangle it all. Their mission is simple, to strengthen your knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements. At you will find seemingly endless resources for anything and everything dietary supplement related – and the best part is, it is user friendly.
Conveniently located on the home page is a link to fact sheets which cover some of today’s most common dietary supplements. From there, you can select any supplement that may be of interest or concern to you. Healthcare providers can also reference the website – as each dietary supplement includes a “Health Professional” tab. In addition, there is also useful information for dietary supplement researchers such as funded and published research on dietary supplements.

Take glucosamine for example. Its various forms and uses can create a head scratcher. Simply by using the search box you can find helpful information on its effectiveness, what form may be a better choice, and if there are any safety concerns associated with the use of the product. More specifically, drug/supplement reactions or allergies. If you happen to be allergic to shellfish – which is one of the eight most common ingredients that trigger food allergies – there may be a reaction because glucosamine is a derivative of shellfish.
Unfortunately, with supplement use also comes supplement fraud. Even though the FDA cannot regulate supplements, they play a big role in consumer protection. On the Office of Dietary Supplements website there is a subcategory under “Health Information,” titled “Consumer Protection.” Under this tab there are several links which navigate you to the FDA website. There you will find information on how to spot health fraud, warnings and safety information, and consumer updates on dietary supplements. This is a great tool to reference, so next time someone is touting a “magical” supplement or a product which promises to help you “melt the pounds” in days … Run. Run as fast as you can.
Remember the ODS website is there to provide users with information to better understand the role of dietary supplements in health. Always consult with a Registered Dietitian to discuss both the advantages and risks of using dietary supplements.

Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Following graduation, Gavin will pursue his Ph.D. in nutritional sciences while aiming to make a positive impact on the over well-being and nutritional status of the American people along the way.