These Secrets Will Help You Choose Safe Supplements Every Time!

May 14, 2021 0 Comments

Nowadays, grocery store or pharmacy is filled with an overwhelming number of options in the supplements section. According to the 2018 Council for Responsible Nutrition survey, the vast majority of adults in the United States—we’re talking a full 75%—take supplements.

78% of the people believe the dietary supplement industry is trustworthy and that while supplements can be an incredibly helpful way to optimize your health, it’s wise to be just a little bit sceptical (and highly informed!) when it comes to choosing which bottles to take off those supplement-aisle shelves.

A lot of people may not aware of and will be surprised to know that Supplements are not thoroughly regulated by the United States government. While they are overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), they are treated more like food than drugs—which is why it’s especially important to be cautious when choosing a supplement that is safe, effective, and the highest quality possible.

You also want to be sure you are taking supplements that meet your personal needs, which is based on your body, your genetics, your microbiome, and your diet. The supplements you take should ideally be unique to you. Translation: You won’t be able to figure out what to take based on what an article on the internet recommends or what your favourite celebrity swears is a game-changer. This is why my nutrition programs focus on evaluating each client’s lab results to determine individual supplement recommendations—no two are alike! 

The following will help you the most when you’re looking to add the safest, most effective, and highest-quality supplements to your daily routine:

  • Embrace a “Food First” Mentality

It’s important to take a “food first” approach to getting the nutrients your body needs: Eat a varied low glycemic diet and use supplements to fill in the gaps.

  • Know that You Still May Not Get All the Nutrients You Need

It’s very common to not get all the nutrients your body needs through food alone. In fact, according to research from NHANES data, a large percentage of Americans fall short on vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, calcium and magnesium. In my clinical experience, some of the most common nutrient deficiencies include omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and vitamin D. It can be very difficult to get optimal levels of these nutrients through food alone, which means supplementing, when appropriate, can be crucial.

  • Look for “Medical Grade” or “Third Party Certified” on the Label

The best way to ensure optimal quality is to purchase supplements that are medical grade and have been third-party tested. Some companies conduct this third-party testing and then award products their seal of approval to indicate that it meets the highest standards—including ingredient quality, consistency of product label, freshness, and more. The most common third-party testing certifications to look for include, NSF International, Informed-Choice and US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). One other certification is the Gold Certification in the Emerson Quality Program. Many of the professional-grade supplements that I recommend are Gold Certified, including Designs for Health, Metagenics, Nordic Naturals, Pure Encapsulations, and Integrative Therapeutics[MR2]. You may need a practitioner code to order these supplements. All of my clients have lifetime access to my supplement store, where I sell these brands at a discounted rate.

  • Get Expert Help When Deciding What to Take

Yes, it can be tempting to buy that bottle of zinc or vitamin C because your best friend or favourite social media influencer swears it keeps her healthy all winter. Yet while that’s a common move—data from NHANES indicate that just 23% of supplement users take supplements based on recommendations from a healthcare practitioner—your best bet is to work with an expert who’ll run lab tests to understand your nutrient deficiencies and your personal needs. After all, just because your friend, family member, or a Kardashian sister benefited from a supplement doesn’t mean that it is the right supplement for you. It’s also important to be considerate of drug-nutrient interactions. 

  • Look at the Ingredients List

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act uses the term “ingredient” to refer to the compounds used when manufacturing a dietary supplement. This includes substances such as binders, colours, excipients, fillers, flavours, and sweeteners. These are largely inactive ingredients that are used to hold a tablet together, fill space, or improve the flow of ingredients through the machinery that makes them.

When reading the label that lists all of a supplement’s ingredients, pay attention to the ones often listed under the “other ingredients” line—and choose a formulation that’s in line with your dietary approach. For instance, if you are a vegetarian, you’ll want to avoid supplements with gelatin. If you are allergic to soy, look for (and avoid) supplements with soybeans. If you have fructose intolerance, steer clear of supplements with fructose. If you are allergic to dairy, watch for milk-based ingredients in popular probiotics.

If you avoid food dyes and artificial sweeteners (like sucralose or aspartame), avoid them in your supplements, too.

  • Remember that More is Not Always Better

Water-soluble vitamins, such as B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) and Vitamin C, can be excreted through the urine and are less likely to cause adverse reactions if you get too much. However, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to take extremely large doses. For instance, when taking more than 1g of vitamin C in one sitting, absorption rates fall to about 50%. What’s more, high doses of vitamin C can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea. This is also true for supplements like probiotics, where more strains do not equate to the best results.


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