How do I choose a high quality supplement?

jaiedocere, supplements

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How do I choose a high quality supplement?

Choosing good quality supplements is very important! I have people say, “Oh, I took that for a month and never felt better” and when I ask about brand and quality I learn that they have chosen a low quality supplement. As a naturopathic doctor, I spend hours each week looking for the right form/dose/type of nutrient or herb produced by a high quality manufacturer. This time goes directly to my practice members when I make brand specific recommendations.

Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, therefore there is no guarantee that the bottle contains what the label says it does. How can we know what we are taking is safe? There are three main areas of concern: raw materials, the production process and the finished product. Look for:

  • Raw material testing, on either all batches or at an appropriate frequency, to show that the ingredient is what it should be, in the right dose, and is free of contaminants.
  • A third party verifier showing Good Manufacturing Practices. Agencies include US Pharmacopeial Convention, Natural Products Association, etc. (It should be said, though, that the manufacturers pay a fee to have their products verified. Many smaller companies might be in full compliance, but not have this verification.)
  • Finished product testing to look for potency, stability, and no adulterants or contaminants present.

In addition, here are some common sense tips:

  • Look at what else is in the supplement, often listed as “other, inactive ingredients.” These fillers help in the production process and may make the pill easier to swallow or prettier to look at. They could include things like hydrogenated oils, titanium dioxide, magnesium stearate1, and artificial colors. There will be some, but keep the list as short as possible. If you are dairy, soy, corn or gluten sensitive be extra alert for those ingredients!
  • Just like when you buy groceries, check the expiration date.
  • Check the storage requirements, and follow them. Some supplements need to stay cool, others need to stay dark.
  • Avoid hype! Some labels make outrageous claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Image by Taylor Dawn Fortune via photopin cc

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