There’s a lot of talk about the lack of quality of over-the-counter supplements. Supplements are different from prescribed medications, which are regulated by the government to ensure quality.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
When it comes to prescribed medicines, the ingredients on the label have to match what’s in the bottle, and each dose must be consistent. But supplements are not regulated in this way. Supplement manufacturers may cut corners. So how do you know what you’re getting?
The first step is to be aware of the common issues with supplements. These include:
- Form of the nutrient may be poorly absorbed or used by the body.
- Dosage on the label may not match the dose on the pill. Current regulations don’t guarantee that dosage is consistent.
- Supplements may be filled with all kinds of additives and fillers.
- Raw materials (especially herbs) may not be tested for toxins, such as mercury or lead.
- Factory where supplements are produced may not follow good manufacturing standards that lead to inconsistent quality.
What can you do to get the best supplements? First, focus on finding quality. Think of supplements as part of your diet and not an area to skimp. For guidance on specific supplements, talk to a trained dietitian, nutritionist, healthcare practitioner or functional medicine practitioner.