9 Common Vitamin Shopping Errors to Avoid Online

vitamin shopping errors avoid mistakes buying dietary supplements

Researchers found that a staggering 31% of people in the US were at risk of at least one vitamin deficiency. Worse, they discovered that almost 2% were at risk of at least three to five deficiencies! 

Vitamin B6 is one of the most common nutrients that many folks in the US lack. A separate study found that at least 10% of the nation's people are deficient in this vitamin. Deficiencies in vitamins B12, C, and D are also prevalent. 

Taking supplements can help keep such deficiencies at bay. However, just as important is avoiding common vitamin shopping errors. Otherwise, the supplements you consume may do you more harm than good. 

Don't worry, though, as we're here to enlighten you on these dietary supplement product online buying mistakes. Read on so that you can steer clear of them, and instead, get the best types of vitamins for your long-term health. 

1. Forgetting to Seek Your Doctor's Approval 

Keep in mind that over-the-counter drugs still need to pass rigorous testing. That's because they're medications, which means that they aim to "treat" or "cure" diseases. 

The thing is, vitamin supplements don't go through the same regulatory standards. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate these products. However, this doesn't automatically mean they're always safer than OTC medications. 

On the contrary, supplement misuse can cause the same or even worse side effects than OTC drugs. 

These adverse effects are often preventable with the help of a physician. For example, your doctor will tell you if you need to avoid certain nutrients while you're on other meds. This is especially true if you're already taking prescription drugs. 

After all, some types of vitamins and other nutrients can result in drug interactions. Some supplement components may have a heightening effect on prescription ingredients. An example is vitamin E, which can trigger bleeding if taken with aspirin or warfarin. 

The exact opposite can also happen, in which a supplement reduces the effectiveness of a drug. 

That's why it's always best to get your doctor's green light before you buy and take vitamins. This way, you can rest easy knowing it's safe to use supplements with your prescriptions. 

2. Not Reading the Ingredient List 

One study cited that there are at least 12 to 18 nutritional ingredients in supplements. Copper, folic acid, manganese, and various vitamins are among the most common components. 

The thing is, many of these ingredients can be present in amounts that can lead to nutritional excess. This means that they can provide you with a "surplus" supply of such nutrients. 

Some water-soluble nutrients aren't harmful at higher levels. The body can simply excrete these "extras" through urine or feces. 

However, fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A and D, aren't so easy to get rid of. The body stores the excess in adipose tissue, and over time, the build-up can result in health problems. At this point, the surplus nutrients can already cause nutrient toxicity. 

So, for your safety, make sure you give the supplement label a thorough reading! This way, you can avoid the potential side effects of consuming too much of a good thing. 

3. Neglecting to Do Your Ingredient Research 

It's vital to learn more about each item listed on the labels of products designed for nutrition. This means that you shouldn't only read the ingredients list. Just as important is to look up specific details about what each ingredient can do to your health. 

This is especially crucial for ingredients you aren't familiar with. A few examples are choline, inositol, pectin, citric acid, and sodium citrate. These are all common ingredients in supplements, but not a lot of people know what exactly they are. 

For example, choline is an essential nutrient, but an estimated nine in 10 people in the US don't have enough of it. The lack of awareness about it may be contributing to its high deficiency rate. 

With that said, it's best that you take the time to research each item you see on a supplement label. This can help you determine if its ingredient list is really helpful or if it's full of unnecessary stuff. 

4. Failing to Check for Any Contraindication 

Contraindications are specific situations in which you shouldn't use certain products. In supplements, this can mean that you shouldn't use a product with another drug. It may also mean that a supplement isn't safe for a specific group of people, such as high-risk individuals. 

An example of supplement-to-drug contraindication is vitamin E and aspirin or warfarin. Supplements that contain this vitamin may also be unsafe for surgery patients. That's because the vitamin may hinder the healing of their surgical wounds. 

Many supplement ingredients are also inadvisable for pregnant or nursing women. For example, high doses of vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E can be dangerous to both the mom and the developing fetus. Other contraindications include herbs like black cohosh, goldenseal, and Dong Quai. 

5. Believing the Claims 

By law, the majority of dietary supplements can't and shouldn't make health-related claims. These include statements that use the terms "cure," "treat," or "prevent." It's illegal for most supplements to promise to cure, treat, or prevent diseases. 

So, if you ever see a vitamin brand that claims to "treat Alzheimer's disease," don't believe it. In fact, there's no known cure for AD yet, so that kind of statement is outright deception. 

6. Disregarding Indicated Directions of Use 

As you shop for vitamins online, make sure you also check how many of the products you need to take every day. For example, some may require only one tablet, pill, or gummy a day, while others may need two to three each day. This is a crucial consideration, as you may end up buying either too many or too few. 

There's also the price to think about. Suppose that you find two reputable vitamin brands with the same ingredients. Both brands also offer a bottle containing 60 tablets each, although they differ in price. This may make you opt for the lower-cost one. 

However, it may turn out the one you buy requires you to take two tablets a day. So, even if one bottle has 60 tablets, it's only good for 30 days. 

On the other hand, you may only need to take one tablet a day of the competing brand. So, even if it has a higher price tag, those 60 tabs will last you for two months. In this way, it may actually be cheaper since it provides you two months of supply. 

7. Paying No Heed to Health Warnings and Product Recalls 

Counterfeit or adulterated supplements can harm you, or at the very least, do nothing at all. Meaning, you may end up wasting a lot of your money on a product that won't benefit you. That's why you should make it a habit to check for FDA announcements. 

The FDA posts regular updates on product recalls and warnings. Many of these have to do with misleading claims, while others are due to deceptive practices. However, the more dangerous ones are counterfeit and adulterated products. 

So, do yourself and your wallet a favor by staying up-to-date on this list. This way, you can be sure that the brand you want to buy is legit, safe, and beneficial. 

8. Overlooking Recommendations from Scientific Organizations 

Aside from reading online customer reviews, make sure you check out the ODS database, too. ODS stands for the "Office of Dietary Supplements." It has a humongous library of specific products, including vitamin supplements. 

The ODS site lets you search the brand and even look up information on its ingredients. 

Another useful and trustworthy source is the United States Pharmacopeial Convention. The USP is a nonprofit organization that consists of medical experts and scientists. They set the standards for the identification and quality assessment of dietary supplements. 

The USP also certifies supplements based on rigorous tests. So, it's a good idea to invest in vitamin supplements that bear the USP label. 

9. Passing up Discount Codes and Coupons 

Don't forget to check for money-saving deals like free shipping or price discounts. This is especially helpful if you plan to purchase a few months' worth of supply. The discounts may only be a couple of dollars each, but they can add up to considerable supplement savings. 

Steer Clear of These Vitamin Shopping Errors 

There you have it, your ultimate guide on the common vitamin shopping errors to avoid at all costs. The most important thing is to get your doctor's approval before using these products. From here, you can then research each ingredient used in the dietary supplement

Feel free to bookmark this page so that you can reference it later on once you shop for your supplements. You can also check out our other health, fitness, and lifestyle guides while you're at it! We also publish a wide variety of helpful articles on dietary supplement industry, healthcare, mental health for entrepreneurs, and workplace wellness.

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