Selecting high-quality dietary supplements is an essential part of supporting your health and well-being. Poor-quality supplements can be composed of fillers, have inaccurately labeled ingredients, insufficient levels of active ingredients, or even contaminants, so it’s important to carefully evaluate a supplement before making a choice. The FDA does not regulate supplement manufacturers in the way you might think. This means purchasing from supplement companies with reliable certifications and quality assurance standards is essential.
Here are some tips to make sure you are selecting good quality supplements, ensuring safety for you as an individual, and how to spot snake oil salespeople.
Getting Supplement Advice from Social Media
While the popularity of using social media to find out what supplements to take is on the rise, it is important to remember that most advice found on social media platforms should not be blindly trusted.
Many of these products have not been properly tested. Therefore, relying exclusively on such recommendations can be, at best ineffective in supporting your health concern and, at worst, potentially dangerous. It’s best to take dietary supplement recommendations from qualified health professionals. In almost every circumstance where an influencer or celebrity is endorsing a supplement, they are paid to do so. This calls into question immediately the safety, effectiveness, and legitimacy of the product.
Supplement Safety Considerations
A crucial thing to consider when purchasing supplements based on the advice of social media influencers or is that there is no conversation about potential interactions with any other supplements or medications you are taking or any existing medical conditions you may have. This conversation is critical regardless of who recommends the supplement.
Supplements are not harmless. In many cases, they have the potency of prescription drugs, and they can have adverse effects when taken without the oversight of a trained health professional.
Another important consideration is that there are many different forms of various nutrients. Depending on what the reasons are that you are taking a dietary supplement, you may need a specific form of it. For example, magnesium comes in various forms, including citrate, oxide, malate, glycinate, etc. They all have different levels of bioavailability and address different health concerns.
Essential to using a supplement properly is knowing what the right amount of the supplement for you as an individual is. More is often not better and can even cause harm. So knowing the right amount that you need to take based on your health condition and other medications and supplements you are currently taking is vital.
While supplements can be a practical part of any health strategy, be weary if your practitioner recommends a ton of supplements for you. Look for a practitioner that uses a food-first approach to help you incorporate supportive nutrients through food and improve your health with positive lifestyle changes.
Speaking with a qualified health practitioner like a CNS or pharmacist can provide you with the information you need to make a sound educated decision. You can schedule a consult with Symphony Nutrition here to help make these important decisions!
How to Select High-Quality Dietary Supplements
The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements as drugs but rather as food.
So when it comes to selecting high-quality dietary supplements, you want to be sure that what you’re buying contains the right ingredients, is free of impurities and is made by a reputable manufacturer. It’s best to look for brands labeled with the NSF International, US Pharmacopeia, Underwriters Laboratory, or Consumer Lab seal. The label should also list information such as expiration date, directions for safe use, possible interactions with other medications or supplements, and any major allergens in the product. By being diligent about these criteria when selecting supplements, you can be confident that your choice is of the highest quality.
See this helpful table below from Consumer Reports that provides detail on the evaluation practices of each of these bodies.
It’s true that choosing highly quality-controlled supplements often results in a more expensive product. But that product will be safer and more effective than you might find in your local grocery store, Costco, or advertised online.
To sum up, here is a list of helpful questions you can use to decide if a dietary supplement is right for you.
- What is the specific health concern this dietary supplement is meant to address?
- How much do I need to take?
- Which form of dietary supplement is best for my specific health concern?
- How long should I take this dietary supplement?
- Will this interact with my current medication or health condition?
- Is the recommendation for this dietary supplement coming from a reputable source? (qualified health care practitioners)?
Is the label making baseless claims or using meaningless phrases like “all-natural,” “antioxidant-rich,” “clinically proven,” or “anti-aging?”
Supplements can be a powerful part of a health plan if used safely and effectively. To schedule a personalized supplement review, click HERE
- “How to Choose Supplements Wisely.” Consumer Reports, https://www.consumerreports.org/supplements/how-to-choose-supplements-wisely-a2238386100/. Accessed 20 Jan. 2023.