In today’s world, there are thousands of different supplements to choose from, and they all claim they’re beneficial to you in different ways.

It can be confusing to know what supplements to take, when to take them, and if they’re safe to take.

The most important thing to know when it comes to supplements is that they are not regulated or checked for safety before being allowed on the market for consumers.

This means that supplements can contain illegal substances, like steroids in protein powder. They also may not contain any of what they actually claim to be, like herbs in herbal supplements. There are many instances of positive drug tests in athletes taking non-regulated substances. One way that supplements cover up what is or is not in their product is labeling ingredients as “proprietary blends”.  This is because when this word is used, the company legally does not have to disclose the exact amount of each ingredient in this blend.

There are ways that trustworthy companies show that they are a safe option.

Sport supplement companies can pay an outside company or “third party” to test their supplement for safety and/or accuracy and quality of ingredients. This shows that a company wants to provide safe and high caliber products to consumers. Two great third party certifications are NSF Certified for Sport® and Informed Choice or Informed Choice for Sport. These are well-known and trusted supplement testing companies.

For general supplements like vitamins and minerals look for a USP certification which tests quality of ingredients. You can also look for Consumer Lab certification which tests for quality, potency, and consistency in ingredients. While there are less issues with general, non-sport supplements causing health issues, it is still important to get your money’s worth by looking for these certifications.

It is also important to note that third party certifications do not mean that a supplement works, just that its ingredients are safe and accurate.

Not all supplements work and every supplement doesn’t work for every person. There can be confusion on this because the claims on supplement products are not regulated either. For example, if a supplement bottle says “100% pure” or “free of banned substance” this does not prove that it actually is. Some supplements are on the market simply because they are trying to turn a profit.

The bottom line is to be careful what supplements and brands you choose!