4 Things to Consider When Buying Vitamins and Supplements
BY AHNA KENNEDY
If you’re in the market for a new supplement — whether it be to boost your immunity, improve digestion, or ease a particular symptom — there’s a very good chance that you’re completely overwhelmed by the options.
Walking down the supplement aisle or scrolling through a plethora of internet search results and deciphering between hundreds of products that all contain different ingredients, dosages, and prices can make purchasing vitamins or supplements very confusing, to say the least! What ingredients should I avoid? Does price affect quality? Which brands are the most effective?
If you can relate to this, I’ve got your back! Here are four things to consider before you put a new supplement into your shopping cart or body.
1. Where you source your vitamins + supplements matters!
If you think of supplements as part of your diet, you want to consume the best quality you can get your hands on. When you invest in a product from a third-party website (where a vast majority of supplements are purchased) you have no idea where or how it’s been stored, how long it’s been there, or if it’s been tampered with. The fact is, some of the biggest and most trusted online stores have the most inferior products.
To avoid these complications, you will most likely need some assistance in choosing the best active and quality ingredients, as well as a trustworthy brand for your individual needs. Businesses specializing in dietary supplements tend to be more particular about what they stock, so the most ideal place to buy from would include a local health food store, apothecary, or healthcare practitioner’s office, where you can get 1:1 assistance help lead you in the right direction.
But if shopping online is easier or more feasible (hello 2021!), these are some of the most reputable places I would suggest purchasing from:
2. Nearly all retail supplements are made with inferior ingredients.
A majority of manufacturers cut costs by adding the inactive parts of specific herbs and botanicals, synthetic vitamins and minerals, and/or a plethora of fillers, additives, and allergens (such as bacteria, mold, yeasts, aflatoxin, and heavy metals) to their formulations that you won’t be able to find identified on a label. Additionally, many supplements also contain agents and ingredients that are difficult to digest, thereby reducing what is actually being absorbed by the body. This means most of its nutritional value is literally ending up in the toilet, leaving you with little or no real benefit or feeling worse than you did in the first place.
To avoid this, steer clear of the following ingredients:
Did you know that citric acid is not at all derived from citrus? It is actually a chemical that is derived from corn and manipulated into a preservative. Eek! This toxic ingredient can wreak havoc on the immune system, intestinal tract, and stomach lining, and negates any benefits that the supplement including this ingredient has to offer. That being said, it is best to avoid any capsules, powders, or liquids that list “citric acid” as one of the ingredients.
Just like citric acid, it is best to stay away from supplements that have natural flavors listed as an ingredient. “Natural flavors,” “natural flavor,” and “natural flavoring,” are all labels for the same chemical composition that contains MSG and acts as an adversary to the body. Numerous B-12 sprays and lozenges, in particular, include natural flavors, so be mindful of ingredient lists when browsing various brands and products.
Alcohol found in most herbal tinctures completely wipes out the supplement’s beneficial elements. In addition, the typical alcohol used in tinctures is GMO corn-grade alcohol, which is highly toxic to the body.
If you eat animal products or animal protein, you likely look for the highest quality grass-fed beef or free-range chicken you can find. Unfortunately, animal derivatives in supplements come from extremely low-quality sources that are saturated with heavy metals, hormones, and a variety of other toxic ingredients. Even well-respected companies have these issues with the quality of animal products found in their supplements.
Although whey has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, few people are aware of the fact that whey protein contains glutamic acid which is a form of MSG.
Always take note of the “other ingredients” list and avoid products with lengthy lists of potentially harmful additions. Some well-known brands sell supplements with an “other ingredients” list of over twenty items, including numerous preservatives and toxic components.
3. Be prepared to spend more money on quality supplements.
In today’s society, everyone is always trying to get the most “bang for their buck” so it’s no surprise that this happens with vitamins and supplements as well. However, supplements are not something you want to purchase at the lowest available cost, as lower cost usually equals lower quality which means less therapeutic benefit and essentially money being wasted.
Higher quality supplements may cost more, but that’s because they are not packed full of harmful ingredients and will allow you to achieve the goals that you have set out by taking the product. So, ounce for ounce, ingredient for ingredient, pharmaceutical, and high-quality brands can actually be the less expensive option in the long run.
4. Does it have certifications?
If you want to make sure that the supplement you’re buying meets quality standards, it’s a good idea to look for certifications or seals of approval such as USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and Certified B Corp. You can also look for something called USP (United States Pharmacopeia), which is one of the best indicators of quality in the industry and it certainly helps products stand apart from the majority of their competition.
Interested in a healthier lifestyle? Read our blog post Beginning Your Health & Wellness Journey – Progress, Not Perfection.