SOURCE: Nature Made

February 07, 2011 05:00 ET

Be Supplement Savvy in the Vitamin Aisle

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - February 7, 2011) - (Family Features) A walk down the vitamin aisle at your local pharmacy or grocery store can be confusing. There are so many options available that it can be difficult to choose between products and brands. How can you determine which vitamins are right for your individual needs? And how can you differentiate between the quality, purity and potency of products on the shelf? 

Suzy Cohen, America's most trusted pharmacist, author and frequent television guest, understands the confusion people face when considering vitamins. "A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that about 50 percent of the U.S. population use dietary supplements, a slight increase from previous studies," Cohen said. "However, most users aren't aware that all vitamins are not created equal, and you can't always believe everything printed on a label."

Cohen offers these tips to help you make smart decisions and get the most out of your vitamins.

Talk to your physician or pharmacist. It's essential to consult with your medical professional before taking new vitamins. Talk about your goals, your lifestyle, current prescriptions and dietary supplements. He or she can recommend what you need, and in what dosages. "I only recommend brands that meet the highest standards of purity and potency, those that follow rigorous quality testing and verification programs, to ensure that what's on the label is what's in the bottle," says Cohen. "That is why I recommend Nature Made vitamins and supplements, a brand I trust for safe and effective products that meet the highest standards in the industry."

Look for the USP Verified Dietary Supplement mark. Seek brands that participate in third-party verification programs with such organizations as United States Pharmacopeia (USP), which has established federally recognized standards for dietary supplement quality, purity and potency. Finding this distinctive green and gold mark on a product label helps to assure consumers that the supplements they buy meet the quality standards they expect.

Think twice about chasing the latest headline. Sound health advice is generally based on research over time, not a single study. Consider vitamins and minerals for overall health and be wary of results claiming a quick fix or one study suggesting a certain result. 

Do your research. There are a number of helpful resources available:

  • Visit the American Academy of Family Physicians' website,, for credible, physician-reviewed information on health and wellness topics, including the role vitamins and supplements can play in a healthy, active and balanced lifestyle.
  • United States Pharmacopeia's "Choosing a Dietary Supplement" Interactive Educational Tool,
  • Nature Made,, has helpful information, including a new Vitamin Assessment tool to help provide customized vitamin recommendations. 

Read the label and follow dosage instructions carefully. Just as with prescriptions, follow the dosage instruction on the label. Look for any warning statements such as combining certain supplements with prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines. Be wary of claims that seem too good to be true.

Keep these tips in mind and you can walk the vitamin aisle with confidence and make savvy choices with ease.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images