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Dietary Supplements: Do They work?

A number of dietary supplements claim to do everything from balance out your diet to help you instantly slim down. With promises of lofty results, one must wonder: do they really work?

There is a lot of unclear information about these products, so let's unravel fact from fiction.

Over-the-counter weight loss? Just because something is lining the shelves at your grocery store or drugmart doesn't mean it's necessarily safe for you to ingest. Although some people have found that vitamins and dietary supplements can be very effective for health and wellness, others have found them to be dangerous. Dietary supplements and over-the-counter weight loss aids don't typically have to undergo the strict requirements that are mandated by the Food and Drug Administration — a government agency that bans and detects dangerous products. In fact, the FDA has banned other supplements in the past.

It's not all bad. However, not all dietary supplements are created equal. Vitamins in particular are often packaged in a raw form similar to how they are naturally found in the earth. Many of you may remember taking them in chewable form as a child, but these vitamins and minerals are actually important nutrients that can be a great addition to a healthy diet. For example, if you are lactose intolerant, it may be a great idea to take calcium supplements since you won't be getting that particular nutrient from low-fat milk or yogurt. This is especially important since the body can't produce calcium on it's own.

The best way to get these essential vitamins and minerals is to stick to healthful eating. Weight loss and nutrition don't come from simply popping a pill, and fruits and veggies are chock full of the same ingredients without the uncomfortable swallowing and chalky aftertaste. By tracking what you eat and diversifying your meals, you can get all of the ingredients you need to feel great and lose weight at the same time!

The best thing to do is to conduct plenty of research on these products as you begin your diet plan. Reading labels, talking to your doctors and pharmacists, and frequently checking the FDA website for alerts can help you make a better informed decision about your weight loss goals.