Is Wellness Formula Safe?

Many wellness supplements claim to support the immune system, but their megadoses of nutrients may cause adverse side effects.

Wellness supplements are thought of as easy, affordable ways to support immune health and protect against infections. Looking at supplement use in the United States (US) from 2017 to March 2020, almost 60% of adults surveyed used at least one supplement daily, and the number of supplements being used daily increased with age, with nearly 25% of adults over 60 using four of more supplements.

Wellness Formula is one wellness supplement that claims to "boost" the immune system by supplying megadoses of vitamins A, C, and D, among other nutrients and herbs. Some experts have raised concerns over the safety and efficacy of wellness supplements like Wellness Formula.

This is because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not evaluate supplements for safety or efficacy and does not have to approve what is written on the supplement label. The manufacturers are responsible for making sure their products are safe and that the label lists the ingredients in the proper amounts.

Given the popularity of wellness supplements like Wellness Formula, here's what you need to know about whether those supplements are safe and how to support your immune system naturally.

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What Is Wellness Formula?

Wellness Formula is a dietary supplement made by Source Naturals, which claims to support the immune system by supplying high doses of vitamin C and more than 30 other vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Available as capsules or tablets, Wellness Formula claims to work "deeply at the cellular level" to strengthen the body's stress response and respiratory system.

Though, there are no clinical studies to support those claims. There is a disclaimer on the Source Naturals site that the FDA has not evaluated those claims.

The FDA only inspects a small percentage of dietary supplements every year. That lack of regulation opens the door for many supplements to falsely claim health benefits since they do not need to provide evidence.

Are Wellness Supplements Safe?

The FDA does not regulate wellness supplements. For some, like Wellness Formula, no clinical trials exist to confirm their claims. 

For those reasons, it can be difficult to be sure of the supposed benefits of wellness supplements. For example, wellness supplements may interact with certain medications or other supplements. Likewise, megadoses of certain nutrients can cause adverse side effects.

Potential Drug Interactions

Some ingredients found in supplements like Wellness Formula "can interact with certain medications or existing medical conditions," Cynthia Sass, RDN, a nutrition and wellness expert, told Health. For example, evidence suggests that echinacea, a type of herb found in Wellness Formula, can exacerbate autoimmune diseases.

Consult a healthcare provider before taking a new supplement. They can assess your health history and any medications and supplements you take that may interact with the new one.

"Meet with a registered dietitian who can sit down with you and go over each supplement to determine if it's appropriate, and if so, the proper dose, form, and how long you should take it," advised Sass.

What to Look for

Look for a supplement with United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or NSF International (NSF) logos to be sure that it is free of contaminants and has a verified ingredients list, noted Kitchin. Keep in mind that those logos do not mean the product is effective.

Can You Have Too Many Immune-Supporting Nutrients?

Many ingredients in wellness supplements, like vitamins A, C, and D, support immunity in amounts that do not exceed the upper intake level. Many wellness supplements, like Wellness Formula, market their products as containing high doses of those immune-supporting nutrients. In excess, those nutrients can cause adverse side effects.

One six-capsule dose of Wellness Formula contains 1,300 milligrams of vitamin C. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) advises 75 milligrams of vitamin C for women daily and 90 milligrams for men. The tolerable upper intake is 2,000 milligrams daily. The one dose keeps you just under the tolerable upper intake. A second six-capsule dose puts you at 2,550 milligrams or 128% of the upper intake. Three doses put you at 191%.

Side effects of taking too much vitamin C may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps

Likewise, Wellness Formula's zinc content can exceed the upper intake. The NIH advises eight milligrams of zinc for women daily and 11 milligrams for men. The tolerable upper intake is 40 milligrams. Just one dose of Wellness Formula has 23 milligrams of zinc. After two doses, you're at 115% of the upper intake level.

Side effects of taking too much zinc include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite

How to Support Your Immune System

Many wellness supplements claim to protect against infections like the common cold, the flu, or COVID-19. Still, no supplement will definitively keep you from becoming ill. Instead, practicing proper handwashing and staying away from people who are sick will prevent the spread of germs.

Other lifestyle changes can help support your immune system. For example, a balanced diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help you meet the recommended daily intake of immune-supporting nutrients without exceeding the upper limit.

Sources of immune-supporting nutrients include:

  • Vitamin A: Leafy green vegetables, fresh fruit (e.g., cantaloupe, apricots, and mangos), and dairy products
  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, red and green peppers, fresh fruit (e.g., kiwi, strawberries, and cantaloupe), broccoli, and baked potatoes
  • Vitamin D: Seafood, beef liver, and dairy products.
  • Zinc: Seafood, red meat, dark meat poultry, high-fiber foods (e.g., beans, whole grains, and nuts), and dairy products

In addition to eating a balanced diet, other lifestyle changes include:

  • Regularly exercising
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Getting a good night's sleep daily
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting your alcohol intake

A Quick Review

Wellness supplements like Wellness Formula are marketed as easy, affordable ways to support immune health. In actuality, no supplement can fully protect against infections like the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19.

Some wellness supplements may pose risks due to their excessive doses of nutrients. Instead, to stay healthy, practice proper hygiene, maintain distance from people who are sick, eat a balanced diet, and exercise, among other lifestyle changes. 

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