CHOOSING THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENT
HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD SUPPLEMENT THAT MEETS WITH YOUR HEALTH NEEDS?
Before you start taking any herbal medicine or supplement be sure you assess your vitamin needs. Consider your lifestyle and diet. Look for nutritional deficiencies in your diet. There are some medical tests you can do to find out your vitamin or nutritional deficiencies or do research on possible remedies for health symptoms you may have.
It has been well documented that our food supply isn’t as rich in nutrients as it once was. This is due to several factors including mono-crop farming, depleted soil, earlier harvest for longer transports and the varieties being grown. Ideally we take supplements with the intention of supplementing our existing diet.
Environmental toxins and stress can also contribute to health issues.
TIPS ON HOW TO PICK A GOOD SUPPLEMENT THAT WILL HELP YOU STAY HEALTH
Below are some tips on how you can select good supplements / vitamins that can help you overcome some of your health challenges and help you stay healthy:
1. Serving Size / Dosage
If the supplement is only one serving size per day especially a multivitamin, you are wasting your time. It is not possible for producers of vitamins to pack all the vitamins into one capsule/tablet to complement your healthy diet.
2. When to take a supplement
It is vitally important to take the vitamins at the right time to help optimize your nutrient absorption. Read the label.
Not all vitamins are created equal. Quality of your supplement makes a big difference as to whether it will help you stay healthy. Avoid partial vitamins which are combined with other chemicals. They are completely different from vitamins from whole, real food.
If you remove a part from the whole, you get “synthetic,” “isolated,” or “fractionated” pieces of the whole. it is not the same. Your body cannot absorb synergistically synthetic supplements with bio-availability being the key concern.
Partial vitamins also requires higher dosages to work as well as good natural vitamins. It is like comparing fast food with real whole foods. The nutrient value lost can be more than 50%. Furthermore, these anti-nutrients can deplete the nutritional value of your foods just like cooking can alter the nutritional value of your food.
4. Price has bearing on Quality
Price is usually a good indication if the supplement is of a good quality. If you buy it from a discount store or from a small producer, you do not know if they have good manufacturing practices in place. If it is cheap, it usually means that there is very little R&D that went into the making of the product. For the true value of the product, compare cost per day than cost per bottle.
5. Where you buy your supplements?
Is it a highly reputable company with highest quality control manufacturing practices?
6. RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance and RD (Recommended Daily Intake) guidelines.
The supplement must meet with the specified minimum RDA/RD amounts.
7. Must include added bonus of essential minerals.
These minerals add their unique layer of nutritional support. Many specialised vitamins lack important minerals.
8. Whether it is evaluated by laboratories or received awards.
Labs that provide clinical evaluation of the vitamin or awards are a good indication of the quality of the supplement. Look for research studies to show that the product is clinically proven to support health.
9. Look for manufacturers with a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility.
A GMP facility must comply with rigid standards, the same standards required by pharmaceutical companies as mandated by the FDA.
This assures that what is in the bottle is the same as what is on the label.
Discrepancies happen more often than you might realise!
Recently a study on 55 brands of vitamin D supplements found they contained between 9% – 146% of what was listed on the label!
Next, you want to know that the raw materials are of high quality.
10. Does the manufacturer have a Certificate of Analysis (COA) for each ingredient.
Having a COA means that the raw material is tested by an independent lab and deemed to be contaminant-free.
11. Is it NSF certified.
NSF.org is a respected third-party quality assurance organisation. It verifies that a facility complies with good manufacturing practices, and takes proper steps to ensure product safety and accurate labelling.
12. Other Seals of Approval
Seals of approval from Consumerlab.com, the Natural Products Association (NPA), the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), and others are indicative that the products are the best supplements to take. However, the absence of such a seal is no reflection on quality, either good or bad.
13. Look for transparent labeling.
Some products contain “proprietary formulas” that do not reveal ingredients’ amounts and concentrations.
It should have the herb’s scientific name, plant part, and an expiration date. It’s also nice to see the plant’s place of origin and whether it was grown organically or wild-crafted (picked in the wild). Companies will say they do this to protect their formulations from their competitors, and we understand this. But less-than-reputable companies hide behind these words to conceal the fact that there isn’t enough of specific ingredients to do you any good.
If you have allergies, you should check if it contains soy, nuts, animal products etc.
14. Avoid supplements which contain binders or coatings
Binders and coatings holds the product together so it can be easily swallowed. Also look out for fillers. Some of these substances may be bad for your health. Research to find out which substances should be avoided.
15. Label Red Flags
Look for “red flags” on labels—Sucrose (sugar), artificial colouring and flavouring, preservatives, and additives such as shellac, chlorine and other chemicals should be avoided. Check to see if it contains hydrogenated oils.
These are usually hidden in the “other ingredients” category. Watch out for meaningless terms like “nutraceutical” which does not add any value to the supplement.
16. Make sure you are getting the therapeutic dosage.
Some companies intentionally add a miniscule amount of an expensive ingredient so they can add it to the label. “Fairy dust” does not give you right amounts of the ingredient for it to be effective in providing a solution to your health.
17. The vitamin must be formulated with a knowledgeable researchers or herbalists.
Buy products from herbalists who understand the required dosages and possible interactions. The americanherbalistsguild provides useful information on various herbs and how they should be used.
18. Beware of Private Label Supplements
These are supplements created by manufacturers based on existing generic supplements. Look for spelling mistakes, no contact numbers, and hype claims about the value of their product to get an indication of the product reliability.
19. Look for a 30 Day Return Policy
Reputable companies will offer a 30 Day money back guarantee.
20. Avoid overly expensive products.
Expensive does not mean that that it is a very good product. If is it over US$100a bottle, you may be paying too much for the product.
21. Look for Standardized Herbal Extracts vs Whole Herbs.
Traditional herbalists prefer the use of whole herbs, also called full spectrum extracts. Standardize extracts usually means the use of harsh chemical solvents to isolate the main active ingredients. Check for Absorption and Bioavailability Rates.
22. Check whether your supplement will dissolve
USP refers to U.S. Pharmacopeia, an organization that was established to create state-of-the-art standards to ensure the quality of medicines that humans use. This includes vitamin and mineral supplements. An example of the kind of USP designation that you want to look for on the label of a product you are considering would be something like, “this product conforms to the USPXXVII requirements for disintegration and dissolution”.
23. Customer feedback
Always be on guard on user comments on social media. Recommendations can be bought. Always read in between the lines of such user recommendations. Comments on Amazon, particularly those who are “Amazon Verified Purchase” are more reliable. Put more weight age on recommendations from other health professionals.
The Better Business Bureau rating is also a good gauge of whether the company has a good customer rating and low on complaints or legal issues.
24. Expiration Dates
Always look for an expiration date. While some nutrients, such as calcium and other minerals, maintain their potency for several years, others like vitamins B and C have a significantly shorter shelf life. The FDA doesn’t require expiration dates on supplement bottles, so many companies don’t provide them. I do not recommend buying such products. Who knows how long they’ve been sitting on the shelf or warehouse?
25. Are Dietary Supplements Regulated by the Government?
Contrary to popular belief, dietary supplements are regulatory govt organisations eg
- FDA regulates the manufacturing of supplements (ingredients that can be included in the supplements and the manufacturing practices)
- FTC regulates the marketing of vitamins and supplements (eg proper labelling and benefit claims of the products).
26. Adverse Reactions to your Vitamins / Supplements
Don’t believe all the propaganda about vitamins and supplements being unsafe. There are very instances of people getting an adverse reaction from alternative medicinal products if you adhere to the label instructions and choose a good quality supplement. If you are worried about adverse reactions on your supplements, you should be even more worried of the medicines that your doctor is prescribing routinely to you. Do careful research on the medications you are taking to assess your risk of adverse reactions, poisoning, and even death which your doctor will not tell you because if you knew, you wouldn’t take them.
What if I pick the wrong supplement?
If the vitamin supplement you are considering doesn’t meet the standards discussed above, it can pass right through your body and do you no good at all.
To give you an example of this, I have actually seen a photo of an x-ray taken of a person’s colon area with the vertebrae of their backbone off to one side. In this photo I could clearly see two supplement tablets, still intact, looking like they had just come out of the bottle. These supplement tablets were poorly made, never disintegrated and would soon end up in the toilet. Photos like these are a graphic illustration of the fact that just because you swallow your vitamin supplement doesn’t mean your body is going to be able to use it.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SUPPLEMENTS / VITAMINS
If you have gotten to the point where you are looking for a vitamin and mineral supplement to take, congratulations. You have taken a positive step towards improving your health and taking better care of your body. However, make sure to continue that commitment to yourself by doing your homework and making sure that you choose a good quality supplement. It makes no sense to go that far then end up wasting your money on something that your body can’t even use.
Who Takes Supplements | Why
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