Thousands of different dietary supplements line store shelves, from vitamins and minerals to herbal products, fish oils and probiotics. Looking for the latest information on supplements? NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine have new or updated resources to help you navigate the supplement maze.
ODS and the National Library of Medicine recently teamed up and launched an online Dietary Supplement Label Database (www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov) where you can look up the ingredients on the labels of about 17,000 different dietary supplements. This free, searchable database gives researchers, consumers and health care providers useful product information from the label including dosage, health claims and cautions. NIH will continue to update the database with the goal of including most of the more than 55,000 dietary supplements sold in this country.
For information on the go, check out NIH’s free updated mobile app: My Dietary Supplements (MyDS). To access the app, which is not currently available in the app store, visit myds.nih.gov and then save the app icon to your smartphone or tablet.
The app lets you keep track of the supplements you take. Search for specific products, manufacturers and ingredients. It’s a particularly handy tool for when you’re in a store or at the doctor’s office. Another great feature of the updated version is the ability to create multiple user profiles.
“My friends track their parents’ supplements usage to tell their doctors what they’re taking and also to help buy their supplements at the store,” says Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian and consultant to ODS.
For even more information, NIH provides dietary supplement fact sheets, with separate versions for researchers and consumers, at http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/. ODS and NCCAM also publish results of new clinical research on supplements as it becomes available. “We’re interested in good science, regardless of the outcome,” says Craig Hopp, NCCAM program director. “We share results of whether the supplement works and we’ll let you know if it doesn’t.”
ODS and NCCAM advise anyone taking supplements, even vitamins, to tell their health care provider which ones they’re taking. Some have side effects or can interact with medicines or interfere with medical conditions. Says ODS director Dr. Paul Coates, “Speak to your health care providers about products of interest and decide together what might be best for you to take, if anything, for your overall health.”