About ‘Our take’

Know what’s behind the recommendations in the ‘Our take’ section of each Mayo Clinic piece on herbs, supplements and vitamins.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

In the ‘Our take’ section of each Mayoclinic.org piece on herbs, supplements and vitamins, there is an accompanying stoplight graphic. Here’s help understanding these recommendations.

  • Green light. This light indicates there’s at least some evidence that the product does what is claimed and that it’s considered generally safe when used as directed. But a green light doesn’t mean it’s OK to take the product for any condition or in any amount. Often, a product is given a green light because studies have found it beneficial for just one or two conditions. There might be other conditions for which the product isn’t effective. Also, the green light only means that the product is one possible therapy to consider. It’s up to you and your doctor to decide if the product is right for you.
  • Yellow light. This light can mean that evidence of the product’s effectiveness might be lacking or that there might be some evidence of efficacy, but there also might be an increased risk of side effects or health problems. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits before adding one of these products to your regimen — and follow up with your doctor if you experience any side effects.
  • Red light. This light indicates that there’s either no evidence of the product’s benefits, the risk associated with taking the product is high, or both. These products are generally best avoided.

Always discuss your use of supplements with your doctor, and take supplements according to directions. Remember that most products haven’t been studied for longer than six months to determine their long-term effects.

If you experience harmful effects that you believe are related to use of an herb, supplement or vitamin, be sure to submit a safety report through the FDA Safety Reporting Portal.

Nov. 14, 2020