Have you ever gotten confused about what supplements you should take or just feel overwhelmed with all the options? Do you ask if you should be even taking any? Or maybe you are like many people that have a collection of supplements they have slowly accumulated throughout the years of trying to find that one magical remedy.
When you walk down the aisle at the store or scroll through Amazon, you’re met with countless types and brands of supplements with the hottest marketing tactics that will promise you exactly what you want to hear – long and full hair, weight loss in two weeks, better sleep, less joint pain, optimal gut health and more! But how do you know which ones you can trust or if they will even work? To the general public, supplements are considered safe and readily available, making it really easy to buy them and just see if they work. But let’s break down the anatomy of the supplement and why one thing matters above all… quality.
Supplementing Red Flags
First, let’s review some major red flags when you’re buying supplements that can clue you in that it might be a waste of time and money.
- Red Flag No. 1: Is the supplement claiming to prevent or treat a disease not approved by the FDA.
- Red Flag No. 2: The supplement company isn’t transparent about research and quality control of their ingredients and the final products. This often leads to supplements that are contaminated.
- Red Flag No. 3: Is this supplement sold on third-party websites like Amazon? You may find reputable brands on Amazon, but more often, what you will find are supplements not approved by the supplement company and are wrongfully being sold.
Pitfalls of Third-Party Sellers
A recent study from JAMA revealed that 17 out of 30 immune-marketed products sold on Amazon had inaccurate labels, were misbranded, or had additional ingredients not noted on the label. Let’s dive specifically into the pitfalls of third-party sellers like Amazon. Several quality issues arise when purchasing supplements through Amazon. You don’t always know the company making or selling the product or how it was manufactured or stored. Expired products can be sold because of oversight, and products may not be warehoused properly. This lack of quality control impacts probiotics and supplements that need refrigeration or need temperature control. Another major pitfall is that products can also be counterfeit or purposefully mislabeled. The supplement products can be adulterated with ingredients and fillers that can be harmful to those who are immunocompromised or have food sensitivities or ingredient sensitivities. Third-party sellers like Amazon do not have organized medical oversight of supplements and health products being sold.
How to Spot Good Supplements
What should you look for when buying supplements?
- Ingredients with pure, raw, or branded ingredients
- Reputable supplement brands
When evaluating supplements for verification and their dedication to pure raw materials, look for branded raw ingredients through well-researched companies, such as Setria, Metafolin, and Albion. Also, look for the USP Verified Mark behind vitamins and minerals, which means the quality controls have approved them through the United States Pharmacopoeia third-party testing. Some third-party organizations inspect supplements and manufacturing practices to ensure quality control standards looking for heavy metals, insecticides, gluten, and other harmful contaminants. These organizations certify supplement companies that are compliant with Current Good Manufacturing Practices.
The third thing to look for is transparency. Look for labels that indicate all ingredients in the supplements, both active and inactive. Labels that list vague ingredients, like proprietary blends, are often highly less than ideal ingredients without knowing the exact amount of each ingredient. These ingredients have additives that can be harmful to those who have food sensitivities or are immunocompromised.
Here’s a bonus tip. Look for supplements that are reputable and only partner with health care practitioners. This will assure you that the supplement is of the best quality and will actually work.
Supplements are one of the most powerful tools that we have when it comes to our health. I personally use supplements and recommend them to my patients all the time. They fill nutrient gaps, mitigate imbalances, and help your body function at optimal levels. But when it comes to choosing supplements, quality is everything. Use these tips to ensure you’re choosing only the best products so you can reap all the benefits of supplements in a safe and effective way.
If you are interested in adding supplements to your routine, check out my newest guide, Supplements 101. Get it sent straight to your inbox here.