Natural supplements and herbal remedies have been used for centuries across cultures. While they aren’t new, there has been a rise in the “go organic” trend over the last few years. It’s important to know what defines natural supplements, as they may not undergo the same scrutiny as regulated medications. However, they can still be powerful tools in maintaining health and wellness, especially if you can discern what all of the different health claims actually mean.
What is considered “natural”?
Natural supplements are those that contain plant matter in which the beneficial ingredients naturally occur. This means that the vitamins and minerals listed on the supplement are already present along with natural cofactors (these are the compounds that help the vitamins to work in your body.) In synthetic supplements, this is not the case and additives must be used.
What regulations apply to natural supplements?
While dietary supplements aren’t required to have FDA approval, they do still need to meet some basic requirements. Natural supplements must:
Ensure their product is free of contaminants.
Be accurately labelled with the appropriate ingredients and amounts.
Have conducted clinical research to support health claims, but disclaim that the FDA hasn’t reviewed the health claims.
Avoid claiming to cure or treat any medical condition.
What should you look for in supplements?
In general, you should look for products that contain 100% active ingredients. This means that the supplement is only comprised of the beneficial ingredients that the health claims are based on, and it doesn’t contain additives like fillers, dyes, or flavoring.
Many synthetic supplements contain this because it enables companies to produce larger amounts of the supplements cheaply. However, these compounds offer no health benefits and serve simply to deodorise natural scents, create visually appealing capsules, or make synthetic supplements appear identical to their natural alternatives.
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