Fine print of dietary supplements may not be so fine for your health
Many individuals take one or more vitamins or dietary supplements in India including adults and children. You’ve heard about them, may have used them, and may have even recommended them to friends or family. Other than vitamins, dietary supplements can contain minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and many other ingredients. Dietary supplements come in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, gummies, and powders, as well as drinks and energy bars. According to the law, supplements can only contain approved dietary ingredients. But some contain far more, or far less ingredients than the label promises. Some dietary supplements also contain unknown drugs or rejected or banned substances.
Some supplements can help assure that you get enough of the vital substances the body needs to function while others may help reduce the risk of disease. Products sold as dietary supplements come with a Supplement Facts label that lists the active ingredients, the amount per serving (dose), as well as other ingredients, such as fillers, binders, and flavorings. Have you ever noticed or paid attention to it? Some dietary supplements can help you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients if you don’t eat a nutritious variety of foods.
The FDA India, FSSAI & Ministry of AYUSH
The FDA India (Food Drugs Administration India) has established good manufacturing practices (GMPs) that companies must follow to help ensure the identity, purity, strength, and composition of their dietary supplements. However, FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe BEFORE they go to market. If the dietary supplement contains a NEW ingredient, manufacturers must notify FDA and FSSAI about that ingredient prior to marketing. However, the notification will only be reviewed by FDA (not approved) and only for safety, not effectiveness.
Several independent organizations offer quality testing and allow products that pass these tests to display a seal of quality assurance that indicates the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants. These seals do not guarantee that a product is safe or effective. While the FDA oversees pharmaceutical industry, FSSAI for supplements and AAYUSH oversees ayurvedic medicines. Regulations for dietary supplements are different from those for prescription or over-the-counter medicines. Recently in July 2021, new regulations under FSSAI are in the process of implementation where RDA values are being changed and new label guidelines promoting transparency are being enforced.
Medicines must be approved by the FDA before they can be sold or marketed. Supplements do not require this approval but needs approval from FSSAI or AAYUSH (Ministry of Aayush). Supplement companies are responsible for having evidence that their products are safe, and the label claims are truthful and not misleading.
Dietary supplement labels may include certain types of health-related claims. Manufacturers are permitted to say, for example, that a supplement promotes health or supports a body function (like immunity or heart health). These claims must be followed by the words, “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or protect.
Manufacturers must follow good manufacturing practices (GMPs) to ensure the identity, purity, strength, and composition of their products. If the FDA or FSSAI finds a dietary supplement to be unsafe, it may remove the product from the marketplace or ask the manufacturer to voluntarily recall the prod
HOW CAN YOU SHOP SMART?
- When searching for supplements on the internet, use noncommercial sites rather than depending on information from sellers.
- Check for FSSAI logo and FSSAI Number for both manufacturer and marketer
- Read the ingredient list in detail
- If claims sound too good to be true, they probably are. Be mindful of product claims.
- Be aware that the term natural doesn’t always means safe.
- Ask your healthcare provider if the supplement you’re considering would be safe and beneficial for you.
- Always remember – safety first!
Who may need to take a supplement?
In order to reduce the risk of some birth defects, it is recommended that women who could become pregnant consume 400 micrograms per day of folic acid from fortified foods and/or supplements in addition to natural sources of folate.
During pregnancy, women are also at risk of other nutrient deficiencies, including iron, choline, and iodine. Depending on food intake, additional supplementation may be recommended by a health care provider.
Nowadays, adults and children are facing a lot of nutrient deficiencies, especially Vitamin D deficiency as there’s limited exposure to sun due to Covid-19 and lockdowns happening worldwide. Adults who are deficient in vitamin D may experience muscle weakness, bone loss, and an increased risk of fractures. In children, it may cause growth delays and soft bones. Also, vitamin D deficiency may play a role in reduced immune function and an increased risk of cancer. People who are deficient may want to take a supplement or increase their sun exposure as it is hard to get sufficient amounts through diet alone.
As people age, it can be difficult to absorb enough vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Sources of vitamin B12 include chicken, fish, milk and other dairy products. It's also found in some fortified foods like breakfast cereals, meat substitutes and soymilk. Vitamin D is available in fatty fish as well as fortified milk and some fortified cereals. Choosing food sources to obtain these important nutrients is encouraged, but a supplement may also be needed.
- But how will you know you have vitamin deficiencies?
A diet lacking in nutrients may cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms are your body’s way of communicating potential vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Recognizing them can help you adjust your diet accordingly. Some of the symptoms are:
- Brittle hair and nails: Adults with brittle hair or nails might consider trying a supplement that provides about 30 micrograms of biotin per day.
- Mouth Ulcers or cracks in the corners of the mouth: often the result of iron deficiencies or B vitamins.
- Bleeding gums: People who eat few fresh fruits and vegetables may develop vitamin C deficiency. This can lead to unpleasant symptoms like bleeding gums, a weakened immune system, and, in severe cases, tooth loss and scurvy.
- Scaly patches and dandruff: Stubborn dandruff and scaly patches on the scalp, eyebrows, ears, eyelids, and chest may be caused by low intake of zinc, niacin, riboflavin, and pyridoxine. Adding these nutrients to the diet may help reduce symptoms.
- What does the Supplement Facts label on a dietary supplement tell me?
The %RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) allows you to see how much a product contributes to your approximate daily needs for that nutrient. For example, if a supplement provides 50% of the RDA for calcium, it contributes about half of your daily needs for calcium. Osoaa’s Daily Multivitamin has 100% RDA of 21 vitamins and minerals.
All products labeled as dietary supplements carry a Supplement Facts label that is similar to the Nutrition Facts label found on food products. It lists the active ingredients and their amounts, plus other added ingredients like fillers, binders, and flavorings. It also gives a suggested serving size, but you and your healthcare provider might decide that a different amount is more appropriate for you.
For instance, in the Supplement Facts label of Osoaa’s Daily Multivitamin, you will be able to see and infer the following information:
The Osoaa multivitamin tablets have probiotics, minerals and 7 herbal extracts. It has 100% RDA of 21 Vitamins & Minerals (32 Key Ingredients) and added probiotics for digestive and gut health. Its Grape Seed Extract & Selenium for Antioxidant protects your cell against free radicals which further protects from cancer, heart, and other diseases. Some of the benefits of using these multivitamins are:
- They provide energy and strength
- They are good for hair, skin and nails
- They enhance gut and digestive health
- They improve bones and joint health
- They boost immunity and enhance brain function
- They work on anxiety and stress reduction
- They support eye health.
It also consists of natural herbs like Hadjod, Giloy, Ashwagandha, Gokhru and Panax Ginseng, Grape seed extract and Selenium. One must take one tablet each day for 2-3 months regularly for best results.
- I’m training for a marathon and wonder if taking a creatine supplement would be helpful.
Creatine is a compound that is stored in your muscles and supplies them with energy. Your body produces some creatine, and you also get some creatine from eating animal foods. Creatine supplements provide much larger amounts of creatine (usually in the form of creatine monohydrate) than you can get from your diet.
Creatine supplements can increase strength, power, and the ability to contract muscles for maximum effort. But creatine is helpful only for repeated short bursts of intense, intermittent activity such as sprinting and weight lifting. For endurance activities like distance running, it appears to have little value. Creatine can cause slight weight gain because it tends to cause water retention, but otherwise, it is considered safe for healthy adults.
All the products at Osoaa offer a clear insight into the ingredients used and contents of the product in the label at the back. It gives full and clear information like you’d have never seen before. We provide you with what’s written and what we claim and follow the FSSAI and AAYUSH guidelines very diligently. We only sell products that we can use ourselves and don’t use any banned or low quality or ageing ingredients in our products. We are here to accompany you as your trusted partner in your journey of wellness.