What’s really in your vitamins? What’s really in your vitamins?

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) — From fish oil to iron, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the vitamin aisle.

A Knoxville, Tennessee dietitian explains what it all means: what you need, what you should leave on the shelf and what could be dangerous.

“It’s so overwhelming, I mean just take a look at this, that’s a lot of stuff that you have to decipher,” said dietitian Allison Maurer as she walked down the vitamin aisle.

They have colorful labels, some even taste like candy, but picking the vitamins you need can be confusing. Knowing what you don’t need is just as important.

“It’s kind of the wild wild west. You could be told you’re getting something and you’re not,” she warned.

Because vitamins are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, Maurer said the process of determining what to buy starts with checking the label for third party testing.

“I do not see any label,” she said as she reached for a bottle. “You can see the statement that it has not been tested by the Food and Drug Administration.”

The bottles are required to include a warning that they FDA has not tested the product. She said if the vitamins have not been tested by a third party company, it’s a red flag, and you would be consuming the supplement at your own risk.

“They find lead or arsenic or all the different things they’ve found in basic vitamins or mineral supplements because no one is paying attention to what’s in it,” Maurer said.

Another thing to look out for is daily value.

“‘Some is good, more is better’ is kind of our mentality, but that’s not always the case,” she said.

Find the daily value percentage on the nutrition label, then do the math.

“It has 600 percent, 400 percent, and it’s not going to be helpful to general health,” she read off a bottle.

Maurer also advised to check the dosage, as you may need more than a couple of pills to do what the label claims.

“You would need at least, if you’re just going for the omega-3, you would need at least 15 of these,” she explained.

Maurer recommends most healthy people stick with a daily multi-vitamin. She said anything else should be recommended by a doctor. She said nutrients should be received by food first, then supplemented by vitamins.

“Unless you know exactly what you’re taking, why you’re taking it, what purpose it’s going to serve, how long you’re going to take it for and what the outlook is going to be, just stick with the basic multi-vitamin,” she said.

Read the original version of this article at local8now.com.

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