If you are overwhelmed and confused about how to choose quality supplements that actually work for your body, this simple guide can help you pick out the right ones!
When you walk in to a health store, drug store, or even a grocery store these days, you’ll find a huge section of supplements with various minerals, vitamins, and concoctions, some you may not even have heard of. The supplement industry is a huge contributor to the US economy and it’s estimated that more than two-thirds of Americans take dietary supplements each year.
With hundreds of thousands of products to choose from, with countless number of manufacturers and companies promising similar outcomes, how do you know which supplements to choose from? Just like any other money-driven industry, there are a good amount of poor quality products in the supplement industry that you need to watch out for that may do more harm than good for your health.
The trick is to choose quality supplements so you don’t end up wasting you hard-earned dollars on something that may not work for your body. But how do you do this with the overwhelming amount of products out there? Here are 6 questions to ask when purchasing your next supplement.
1. Can the ingredients be easily absorbed by the body?
When it comes to certain vitamins and minerals, they come in various forms and some cannot easily be absorbed and utilized by the body. This is why is it’s important to educate yourself on the most absorbable forms and always read the ingredients label.
For example, magnesium comes in so many forms, but I always look for magnesium chloride, citrate, or glycinate because they are the most easily metabolized in the body and incredibly fast acting, even when it’s absorbed through the skin. Magnesium sulfate and and magnesium oxide (the most common form sold in the market), on the other hand, have poor absorption rates and laxative effects.
Do your research with the various forms of vitamins and minerals, and check to see what may be the best for you and your needs, instead of impulse buying after reading a few reviews.
2. What are the farming practices?
Just like food, it’s important to look at the farming practices behind each supplement. Were toxic pesticides used? Are there GMO ingredients? Are the farming practices sustainable?
These are just some of the questions to ask when picking out your supplements. Poor farming practices compromise the quality of supplements AND our environment. If the company does not provide this information on their website, you can reach out to them directly. If they refuse to disclose how they source their products, it’s a clear red flag and you can move on to the next company to research.
3. Is it Fair Trade?
I believe that promoting Fair Trade practices is just as important as farming practices, and the two go hand in hand. The supplements you buy should benefit not just your body, but for everyone involved in the production and harvesting of the ingredients.
Call it woo-woo, but I believe that food we consume carries energy that either harm us or do us good. And the entire process from how the food was grown to how it lands in our mouths (sourcing, harvesting, cooking) brings energy to the food. No matter how organic a food or a supplement is, if there were workers who were unfairly treated or underpaid while on its way to the consumer, I’d rather not put it inside my body.
It’s usually easy to spot a Fair Trade company because they will post some kind of certification seal on their website or the packaging. And why not? They should be loud and proud to be part of a great cause.
4. Are there any fillers?
Additives, binders, and fillers are commonly added into supplements for various reasons. They make it easier to produce the product, sell more in a bottle for a lower price, give the supplements a more appetizing color, and change the texture and consistency to make it easier to consume. Just like how we don’t want to see additive and fillers in processed foods, the same goes for supplements.
Some common ones include artificial colors, inflammatory vegetable oils, magnesium stearate, propylene glycol, titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide, carrageenan and more. You will often find these in the “Other Ingredients” or “Inactive Ingredients” section of the label. These ingredients do not provide any health benefits, and may even cause allergic reactions and other health issues. Even if you don’t experience obvious side effects, why would you want to consume these fillers that may do more harm than good?
And to make things worse, while manufacturers are required to list all their inactive ingredients, no such law exists for the pharmaceutical industry. To avoid these fillers, find a company that’s transparent with everything that’s in their products.
5. Has it be tried and tested?
As with any drug or supplement that you are about to consume, it’s a good idea to ask what research has been done with the product and if it’s been properly tested. Has the product been tested to make sure its contents on the label are accurate?
A fairly recent study looked at common dietary supplements in the market for the presence of gluten, and found 23.8% of the investigated samples tested positive. This is bad news for anyone with a gluten intolerance, or even worse, Celiac disease, and they may be consuming supplements that are causing inflammation in their body without even knowing.
One of the certifications I look for in supplement companies is the cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Process) label, which is FDA’s regulations to ensure that products are manufactured to specific requirements, in terms of strength, quality, and purity.
6. Where is it sold from?
The tides are changing a bit, but I still avoid buying supplements from chain drug stores like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and even Costco. The products sold in these places are usually poor quality and they are cheaper for a reason. Often, they contain fillers, the ingredients are not well researched or tested, and they are not as effective.
I always recommend smaller companies that you can get to know and ask specific questions to, rather than big conglomerates usually owned by pharmaceutical companies. If their supplements are what they claim to be, you’ll be able to sense their mission and philosophy fairy quickly, and truly see that they want to improve the health of their consumers with quality nutrients.
Some of my favorite companies are:
- Perfect Supplements –> Save 10% off your entire purchase by using the code GREATGRANDMA10 at checkout!
- Biotics Research
- Thorne Research
- Klaire Labs
- Gaia Herbs
- Pure Encapsulations