Dietary supplements could cause more harm than benefit, BBB warns

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle or just live a healthier lifestyle, supplements can aid you in achieving your desired outcome. However, Better Business Bureau urges consumers that supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and urges consumers to be extra cautious before testing out a new product.

According to the FDA, “Generally, manufacturers do not need to register their products with FDA or get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements.”

In 2012, BBB received more than 2,000 complaints nationally against various vitamin and food supplement retailers and manufacturers. Many of those complaints allege dissatisfaction with customer service and issues with billing. Some complaints also allege consumers had adverse reactions to supplements or felt misled by product claims.

Before adding a supplement into your daily routine, BBB advises you:

  • Consult your doctor or healthcare provider. Certain supplements and ingredients can be potentially dangerous when mixed with medications or if someone is pregnant, nursing or has a pre-existing health condition. Always consult with your doctor first.
  • Research the supplement. The Food and Drug Administration is a great resource for researching supplements and their ingredients. You can also go to to check out the BBB Business Review of any retailer or manufacturer that makes the supplement you’re interested in purchasing. Additional information on product claims, the safety and effectiveness of the product, as well as any reports of adverse effects can be acquired directly from the product manufacturer or distributor.
  • Be cautious of too-good-to-be-true claims. If a product is touting exaggerated claims or instant fixes, this is a red flag. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Be extra diligent when searching products on the Web. When searching for information about supplements online, use respected websites such as those run by the government, university research or reputable medical databases rather than just doing a quick search through a search engine.