Your Questions on Supplements Answered
With the latest developments around the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) not having any legal jurisdiction to regulate natural medicine, we all have many questions. I hope to answer some of them here.
How can I get more information about a particular dietary supplement such as whether it is safe and effective?
There is no national database in South Africa where you can enter the proprietary name of a dietary supplement and assess its safety, quality and efficacy. In countries where natural health products are regulated, such as Canada, the public simply can look up a product online. In South Africa one has to do your own detective work and study the individual ingredients of a product to ascertain its health benefits and usefulness (efficacy) and whether the amount of each ingredient is safe in the dosage contained in the product. Again, the Canadians lead in this field. They have an online database where you can look up individual natural health ingredients to obtain information on their indications of use, upper safety limits (maximum allowable dosage per day), and any warnings one should consider before use. Consult with a suitably qualified and registered health professional, such as integrative medicine practitioners, naturopaths, medical herbalists (phytotherapists) or dieticians.
How do I know if the supplement contains the ingredients that it claims on the label or if it is contaminated?
It is almost impossible for consumers to tell if a product is contaminated without confirmatory tests being undertaken on the product in a laboratory setting to evaluate and screen the chemical substances. Current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) regulations safeguard the public from products which may be contaminated. However, as within all industries, there is always a risk that some companies may take chances and not follow the safety guidelines.
How do I choose which brand(s) of dietary supplements I should purchase?
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