Top four facts you need to know about health supplements
Here are the top four facts about health supplements you need to know, according to Ms Rosemary Chng, 55, a life scientist/botanist and founder of natural health products company Elixir Botanica.
Many supplements contain a lot of fillers and binders
Consumers must learn to read labels to ensure they are getting what they want to buy, as what is on the front of the label may not be all that is in it.
Ms Chng said: "Check that 100 per cent of the ingredients are broken and listed down on the label. Do not accept any product that only gives a general listing of the ingredients without the amount or volume of every single active ingredient. This is to ensure you are getting the right dose of what you need to prevent over- or under-dosing or even potential allergic reactions."
Getting the right dosage is very important
Many people who buy online think more is better, according to Ms Chng, but therein lies the danger of overdosing.
She said: "For example, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) stipulates that capsules containing vitamin D3 should be 1,000iu a capsule and the dose for the average person is one capsule daily. But most sold online is 4,000 to 5,000iu. So if you are taking this, you could be setting yourself up for liver poisoning in the long run."
It is better not to take any supplements than bad supplements
A good health supplement will boost our immune system, but taking the wrong type is worse then not taking any. The latter includes synthetic vitamins, oxidized or poor quality fish oils, and too much vitamin D3 and calcium.
Ms Chng said: "Synthetic and natural vitamins can be worlds apart, especially for members in the B vitamins family. Taking the wrong type can have negative side effects for people who cannot process or metabolise them."
Tighter regulation needed for supplements not sold in stores
Ms Chng chooses to import her health supplements from Canada - and only those that come with the Natural Product Number registration.
As far as she knows, only Health Canada licenses and regulates all supplements before they can be sold in Canada, and certifies them safe and effective, while the US Food and Drug Administration "only has powers over health supplements sellers once the products are sold on the shelf and not before".
She added: "HSA has a very good and comprehensive guideline for sellers to follow for the import and sale of health supplements in Singapore, and is very strict over the words used for marketing and promotion.
"Yet, I have seen some really amazing claims that go against the regulations but are still used liberally by independent direct marketing companies." - ANGELII TRISSHA MOHAN