Supplements aren’t regulated like drugs. Their makers don’t have to prove that they’re safe or effective. Let’s talk about some of the pitfalls of using supplements, and how you can improve your chances of getting a pill that does what it’s supposed to. You’re not alone if you assume that vitamins and other supplements must pass some sort of approval process to be sold in stores (59% of adults agreed in a 2002 Harris poll), that any claims on the label would have to be supported by scientific evidence (55%), or that supplements with dangerous effects would have to carry a warning label (68%).In a supplement industry survey, 85% of Americans agreed they were “confident” in the “safety, quality, and effectiveness” of supplements. Academic studies have shown similar results, including the idea that people perceive supplements as safe because they are available without a prescription and because they are “natural.” It’s not hard to find examples of supplements that have caused real harm: Hydroxycut was finally recalled after causing liver damage for years; a supplement called Total Body Formula turned out to contain massively damaging overdoses of selenium, way more than what was listed on the label.