Today’s fast-paced, modern lifestyle does not give people enough time to be and stay healthy. Not a lot of us get to eat a well-balanced diet. Some sources say most fruits and vegetables being sold now do not offer the same amount of vitamins and minerals like before as they usually need to be transported from great distances to be available in supermarkets all year.
This is why supplements have been cropping up in the nutrition market. Relying on food alone for nutrition isn’t recommended anymore. Pharmaceutical companies promise that by taking their supplements, your recommended daily intake of essential nutrients will be met. There is no need for you to prepare a complex dish with all the greens because all you have to do is to pop a pill into your mouth, and voila, all of your nutritional deficiencies are fixed!
It sounds too good to be true, right? Still, many people easily believe in ads, thinking that these products are doing exactly what they are supposed to. The reality is that most of the supplements in the market do not actually offer what they claim. With that said, you should be vigilant regarding which of these supplements you entrust your health to.
Unless you are a chemist, clinical researcher, biologist or a nutritionist, it is not easy to determine if a certain supplement will truly improve your health, address any deficiencies, or contain everything written on the label.
To help you choose which supplements you can trust, here are some tips to consider:
1. Check for Quality Assurance
A supplement will most likely contain everything on its label when it is manufactured at a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility. This facility is expected to comply with industry standards. Also, it makes sure that the pills in the bottle contain exactly what is on the label.
Aside from this, check also if there is a COA or Certificate of Analysis for every ingredient. This will mean that the raw materials were tested by a lab and are free of any contaminants like lead, mercury, fungus and mold.
Another sign that a product is safe and reliable is when it is certified by a third-party quality assurance organization. NSF International, for instance, verifies that the facility is compliant with excellent manufacturing practices. It likewise takes the right steps to guarantee product safety.
There are also reputable companies that ensure product safety and reliability by giving botanical and phytochemical reference standards to different labs for accurate testing. The main goal of these organizations is to improve the user’s health and wellness through product verification and lab research.
2. Check the Ingredients Label
Reliable supplements should have transparent labeling. You may have noticed that some manufacturers reveal the ingredients their product contains but without the specific amounts and concentrations.
They do this to prevent their competitors from stealing their formulation data. However, some manufacturers use such kind of reasoning to conceal the fact that their products contain insufficient ingredients as well.
Generally, you must stay away from products that have unnecessary sucrose, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavors or colors. Make sure that even the inactive ingredients are healthy.
There are also manufacturers using very small print that you need to use a magnifying glass to be able to read it. Is there something they are trying to hide? When you choose to buy supplements online, opt for those that publish a copy of the ingredients on their website, listing both inactive and active components.
Apart from the ingredients, the product label should also list any contraindications. Remember that there are some ingredients that can cause individual allergic reactions, or that can hasten or weaken the efficacy of some prescription medications. No wonder most supplement manufacturers give a warning that, before taking their products, you must consult with your physician.
3. Know Your Therapeutic Dosage
Therapeutic dosage refers to the minimum amount of a nutrient that provides real benefit, and this differs from one person to another.
In general, supplements that have a couple of ingredients may work synergistically, meaning every ingredient will boost the benefit of the others. But this is only guaranteed when the product has been developed by experts who fully understand the required dosages and potential interactions.
4. Prioritize Value Over Cost
Look for a manufacturer that puts their resources into the research and development of effective and safe products instead of marketing and promotion. A good sign is when they discuss their R&D on their company website. Similar to buying any item, most products are worthless and only a few stand out as truly excellent.
Do not base your choice solely on the price. With your health at stake, do not opt for products, whether cheap or expensive, that come from unreliable companies.
Remember that even the most reputable companies are finding ways to make their products affordable. This can be in the form of free trials, promotional codes, auto shipments, and combo packages.
Calculate the cost per day instead of the cost per bottle. Most importantly, don’t forget to read the fine print. Reputable supplement manufacturers don’t have to trick you to buy their products. Also, they give more value to establishing long-term relationships than to the amount of money they will get from you immediately.
Supplements that are out on the market today may or may not have been reviewed for effectiveness and safety by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is now your job as the consumer to check if the supplement you are considering to buy can be trusted. So, before ingesting any pill, make sure to follow the above tips, and for added safety, discuss taking supplements with your doctor first.
Frank L. Jaksch Jr. is the Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of ChromaDex. He oversees research, strategy and operations for the Company with a focus on scientific and novel products for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets. Mr. Jaksch earned a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from Valparaiso University.