Thursday, December 13, 2012

Myth: If I buy a supplement with herbs or botanicals, they are safe for me or my family.

Answer: BUSTED!

Are you taking a dietary supplement? You’re not alone. Most adults in the U.S. take one or more dietary supplements either every day or once in awhile.

Many people believe that products labeled "natural" are safe and good for them. This is not necessarily true because the safety of a supplement depends on many things — how it works in the body, how it’s prepared and how much is taken.

Supplements in powder (in beverage) & pill forms
Supplements in powder (beverage) & pill forms
Dietary supplements can come in many forms — as a food such as energy bars, drinks or powders, or over-the-counter as pills.

Unlike drugs, there is no law that requires the Food and Drug Administration to "approve" dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they are sold. Dietary supplements are not required to be standardized in the U.S.

Be sure to tell your doctor what supplements you are taking so you can be alerted to any reasons you shouldn’t be taking a supplement. This would include a health condition you have, any upcoming surgery you are scheduled for or interactions with regular medicines. For example, St. John's wort may reduce the effectiveness of drugs for heart disease, depression or certain cancers. You can use these fact sheets at to find a specific dietary supplement and see if there are any concerns about use.

The information above is adapted from information at

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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