Posts Tagged ‘supplements’

a person standing in the sun

It’s fall now, which means the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are getting cooler. In the long winter months, warm weather and sunshine can seem like a distant memory. We start to look forward to the days when the sun will stay longer and bring back all that we love about being outside – picnics, barb-b-ques, and more. The sun, in fact, gives us more than we realize. One of the most important vitamins we need – Vitamin D – actually depends on the sun, so much so that it is known as the “sunshine vitamin”.

If vitamins had a popularity contest, vitamin D would surely be a top contestant. Why does it get so much press?  The answer lies in just how much it does for our bodies. Vitamin D supports neuromuscular and immune function, reduces inflammation, and improves bone health.

You might be wondering how the sun plays a role in the vitamin D levels in our bodies. We naturally produce an inactive form of vitamin D in our bodies called calciferol. Our hero, the sun, converts calciferol to the active form of vitamin D – cholecalciferol. However, this process depends on a number of factors including the length of exposure to the sun, skin type, where you live (how much sun exposure your geographical area gets), the season, and the time of day.

Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the world, and in the United States. It is estimated that around 40% of Americans may be deficient in Vitamin D. Infants, disabled individuals, the elderly, obese individuals, people who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, people with darker skin, and people who have medical problems which interfere with normal absorption of nutrients are at higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency. If you feel you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency, talk to your doctor about getting bloodwork done. It is important to consult with a doctor before taking a vitamin D supplement. Your doctor will help you determine whether supplementation is needed, and if so, what an appropriate dose would be. Taking a supplement without consulting with a doctor could put you at risk for toxicity, and you may suffer side effects associated with too much vitamin D. If your doctor does recommend a supplement, be sure to ask for recommendations, or use this resource to find products that have been tested for quality. As described in a previous blog article, not all supplements are created equal!

Proactively, besides getting outside and taking in the sun, you can also aim to include foods high in Vitamin D in your diet. Fatty fish such as trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel; eggs yolks, cheese, mushrooms, and cod liver oil are all naturally high in vitamin D. Fortunately, in the United States a number of foods are now fortified with vitamin D: milk, infant formula, breakfast cereals, some brands of orange juice, and select yogurt products.

Whether it comes from the sun, food, or supplements, getting enough vitamin D is important!


Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D. Accessed February 18, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

Nair, R. & Maseeh, A. (2012). Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother;3(2):118-126. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.95506

Forrest, K.Y.Z. & Stuhldreher, W.L. (2011). Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults. Nutr Res.;31(1):48-54. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2010.12.001

Written by Avani Patel, Pharm-D, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

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a cabinet full of dietary supplements

The dietary supplement industry in the United States is robust, and it continues to grow with increasing consumer demand for health and wellness products. About two out of every three Americans take a dietary supplement today. As the industry grows, consumers have an ever-increasing choice of products and brands to choose from. This may leave people with an important question: is there really a difference between supplements brands? The simple answer is yes.  Suppliers of vitamins, minerals, and other wellness products do not all have the same standards of quality, purity, or safe manufacturing practices. Surprised? You might ask, “Doesn’t the government regulate these companies?” Here the answer gets a little complicated. The FDA does enforce certain regulations; however, since 1994 dietary supplements have been regulated under the category of food, not medication. Under these guidelines it is the manufacturer of the supplement, not the FDA, who is responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of the products. The lack of consistent regulations across the industry has flooded the market with products with varying degrees of quality. The number of consumer reports against manufacturers of dietary supplements is increasing, and the FDA continues to take action against companies that distribute and sell products that pose health risks.

This brings us to the next question, how do I find a quality brand of vitamins, minerals, or other supplements? One simple way to know if the brand you are reaching for is trustworthy is to check for the USP verification mark. The USP Dietary Supplement Verification Program identifies manufacturers who produce quality products. To receive the USP verification mark, manufacturers must meet quality standards by completing a facility audit, documenting their manufacturing and quality control measures, testing samples of their product in a laboratory, and providing off-the-shelf testing of supplements. What does this mean for consumers? The USP verification mark means that:

  1. The product contains the correct ingredients in the correct amount as stated on the label  
  2. The product does not contain harmful levels of certain contaminants
  3. The product will be broken down and released in the body in a particular time frame
  4. The product was made in accordance with USP and FDA current Good Manufacturing Practices. 

Want to do research before going to the store? You can look for USP verified dietary supplements by visiting the USP Quality Supplements website. You can use this reference to learn more about USP verification and to search for USP verified supplements by type. You can also search for brands, including select store brand products. There are also resources to help consumers learn how to read supplement labels. 

Given the inconsistent quality across the industry for dietary supplements, it can be hard to know which brand to trust.  Choosing a dietary supplement that has the USP verification mark can help you make that choice with confidence. 

Written by: Avani Patel, Pharm-D, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County


 Dietary Supplement Manufacturing – USP Verified Mark | USP. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.usp.org/verification-services/verified-mark

Quality Supplements. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.quality-supplements.org/resources/resource-gallery-infographic

Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the agency’s new efforts to strengthen regulation of dietary supplements by modernizing and reforming FDA’s oversight. FDA. Published February 11, 2019. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/statement-fda-commissioner-scott-gottlieb-md-agencys-new-efforts-strengthen-regulation-dietary

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Want some muscles or to reduce your body fat?  Working out but still not seeing much difference?  Would taking supplements like a steroid or a nutritional supplement help?

With football practices starting up your son might want an advantage to be the best on the team.  It seems like many athletes are taking steroids or supplements thinking that “bigger is better,” and “being the best is more important than how you get there.”   Since they do it, it must be alright.  But wait! 

Some athletes take anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass and strength.  These drugs appear to make muscles bigger and may help athletes recover from a workout more quickly, which means they can work out more frequently and harder.  However, the use of these drugs is not recommended for improving athletic performance and many cause some serious side effects or risks. These drugs are dangerous and when used may cause some severe, long-lasting and irreversible negative health consequences.   This can be especially serious for youth, whose bodies are still growing and developing.  The Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse has an online letter warning about the use of anabolic steroids and encouraging young people and adults not to take unnecessary health risks by using steroids.  Some of the serious adverse effects may not be recognized for many years.

Risks of anabolic steroids include:

  • Short Stature (if taken by adolescents)
  • Increased tendinitis and tendon rupture
  • Severe acne and cysts
  • Liver abnormalities and tumors
  • Liver cancer
  • Increased LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol)
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Depression
  • Drug dependence
  • kidney damage

The FDA warns that many bodybuilding products sold online as well as in retail stores are labeled as “dietary supplements.”  However, these are not dietary supplements but are illegally marketed and unapproved new drugs.  They have not been reviewed by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or quality.  A study done by Consumer Reports some years ago highlighted problems with many bodybuilding substances as many of them had substances not on the label and not approved by the FDA.

The FDA recommends you do not take bodybuilding products.  If you are taking them they recommend you stop taking them immediately.  They encourage you to talk to your health care professional about the products you were taking.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension


Federal Drug Administration. (2017). Caution: Bodybuilding Products Can Be Risky. FDA Consumer Updates.  Available at https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm173739.htm

National Institute on Drug Abuse, (2006). What are the Health Consequences of Steroid Abuse? National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Health.  Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/anabolic-steroid-abuse/what-are-health-consequences-steroid-abuse

Volkow, N.D. (2006). Letter From the Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health.  Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/anabolic-steroid-abuse/letter-director

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