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Is that supplement good for you — or too good to be true?


We’ve all seen ads for dietary supplements that claim they can make us thinner or healthier. But how do you know if a claim is backed by science, or if it’s just another fad or scam? Here are a few tips to help you know the difference.

We’ve all seen ads for dietary supplements that claim they can make us thinner or healthier. But how do you know if a claim is backed by science, or if it’s just another fad or scam? Here are a few tips to help you know the difference.

CLAIM: This one product does it all. Very few products can treat multiple diseases and conditions at once. When in doubt, ask yourself, “Does it sound too good to be true?” If it does, it probably isn’t true.

CLAIM: It’s a quick fix. Be cautious of anything that offers immediate relief, especially for serious conditions. Terms like “in days” may refer to any length of time.

CLAIM: It’s natural. While “natural” may suggest “safe,” keep in mind that certain plants are toxic and can kill when ingested. Plus, any product — synthetic or natural — strong enough to work like a drug may be strong enough to cause negative side effects.

CLAIM: It’s a time-tested or brand-new treatment. If a product really cured a serious disease, it would be widely reported in the media and regularly prescribed by health care professionals.

Still not sure if a supplement is the real deal? Do a little research:

  • Talk to a doctor or health care professional.
  • Visit websites such as quality-supplements.org or consumerlab.com to find independently approved, quality supplements.
  • Check the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website at fda.gov to see if the agency has taken action against the product’s manufacturer or the company responsible for marketing that product.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration.