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Editor’s note: This article was written based on my experience and what I have researched about the topic. Everyone is different. The decision to use supplements should be a decision between doctor and patient.
As part of the week-long Mayo Clinic fibromyalgia program I attended in 2016, I met with a pharmacist to review the long list of prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, and supplements I was taking at the time. My medicine cabinet looked like a GNC store.
I was instructed to bring the actual bottles with me to the appointment, so I packed the bottles into a gym bag (yes, I was taking a lot of medicines and supplements) and went to see her.
I was surprised as she read each bottle, making comments and recommendations about each pill – including product quality, labeling issues, ingredient safety, and dosing.
When the appointment ended, my medicine and supplement list was much shorter with her recommending stopping most of the supplements and my gym bag much lighter – throwing away the pills was going to stop taking. I kept only one supplement - Vitamin D.
Unlike prescription or over-the-counter drugs, which must be approved by the Federal Drug Agency (FDA) before they can be marketed, the FDA doesn’t review supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are sold.
We don’t know where the products are made, how they are made, what is in them, and if the dosage is appropriate.
Safety is left up to the manufacturers and distributors of the supplements.
You assume all risk when using supplements. While some may be valuable, many aren’t and some may even be harmful.
Tom Bowen is a chronic pain patient who turned into an advocate, educator, and collaborator.