Dietary supplements may seem like a smart way to optimize our health, yet too many of us are taking a haphazard approach to pills and powders that may not help and can potentially even hurt, experts say.

Dietary supplements are a $37 billion-a-year business in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health. Some of this consumption is medically necessary, even lifesaving. And yet, for every person who takes a supplement that’s medically warranted, experts say more of us are taking something because our neighbour or colleague swears by it.

For those looking to science for guidance, it can be confusing when a new study comes out and a nutrient that was seen as beneficial one day is questioned the next. “Medicine is an art as well as a science, and through the years we’ve made a lot of mistakes,” said Dr. Roxanne B. Sukol, medical director, Wellness Enterprise at the Cleveland Clinic.