Become a Smart Patient
The ABCs on Vitamins and Minerals
You might be surprised to know that, except for a few basic vitamins and a few minerals, we have limited scientific information about most supplements on the market. The bottom line? If a supplement works for you, then it works.
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Look for the "USP"
Nutritional supplements are classified as food products, so the FDA does not regulate them. Manufacturers can sell them in any quantity or combination they want, with little quality control. The pills might not even contain the substance claimed. Always look for a small "USP" on the label. This means that the United States Pharmacopeia, a reliable nonprofit science organization, has tested and verified the supplement. Check out the U.S. Pharmacopeia's website at USP.org to get more details.
What's the Real Deal on Echinacea?
Come cold and flu season, we see hordes of patients taking the herbal powder echinacea to ward off a budding bug. Unfortunately, the very few studies on echinacea in Germany and the United States have produced mixed results. And a few even hinted at negative affects. You might be better off putting your money toward a piping hot bowl of chicken soup, which has been proved beneficial by scientific research and grandmas everywhere.
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