Supplements Ingredients – Which To Choose?

 In nutrition&supplements

Supplements are something that can improve or worsen your health, depending on the ingredients. Most supplements aren’t monitored, so you must do your own research. FDA monitors drugs, but do not monitor most dietary supplements, so there is no strict rule you can follow. But, do high-quality supplements always improve your health and how to know before you buy? Read more to find out.

What Are Supplements For? 

Vitamins and supplements can fill gaps in your everyday diet but its effects are short term. Only a plate of healthy and balanced food can promote good health. However, numerous studies have shown that vitamin and mineral supplements can help prevent deficiencies that can contribute to some chronic conditions. But, everybody agrees that an overall healthy diet and regular physical activity can help prevent chronic diseases.

What Supplements to Take? 

If you still need to take vitamins and supplements, you must choose cleverly. First and foremost, you should know what kind of deficit is present in your body, as well as to consult with your nutritionist about the compensation. In case that your nutritionists recommend supplements, respect the limits. Some supplements can build up and potentially cause toxicities if you take more than 100% of the DV (daily value). Also, take only those vitamins or minerals, which are recommended to you.

Is There Dietary Supplement Regulation?

So, you consulted your nutritionist or dietitian, and you are determined to purchase your supplements, but which to choose?

The dietary supplement industry is very adept at advertising their products, so you should be very careful. Namely, dietary supplements do not require premarket review or approval by the FDA, so it may happen that they do not contain the components that are specified on the label, as well as they may contain some components that can be harmful to your health. The government of USA does not require supplement makers to prove their products are safe before they can sell it.

So, you may ask: are supplements safe?

FDA had established Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for dietary supplements to help ensure their identity, purity, strength, and composition. In addition, several independent organizations offer quality testing and allow products that pass these tests to display their seals of approval. These seals of approval provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, that it contains the ingredients listed on the label, and that it doesn’t contain harmful levels of contaminants. So, if you find labels with seals of:

  •  U.S. Pharmacopeia,
  • NSF International,

you may be sure that the products passed the tests about verification of their quality. So, you can consider that dietary supplements are regulated by those organizations.

Top 5 Things to Look for To Ensure Quality Supplements

1. Read Supplements Label

USP (U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention) has created the infographic to help you find and understand the most important features of a supplement label. Supplements may be the form of tablets, capsules, powders and liquids and that fact has to be specified on the label as well as directions for use, health-related claims and any cautions, so as if its content has other added ingredients, such as fillers, binders, and flavorings. USP tests guarantee that you will buy what is indicated on the label. This protects your health as well as your wallet.

2. Look for Quality Assurance

You certainly don’t want heavy metals, chemicals from pesticides that may have been used on plants, toxins like mildew, or even intentional adulterants like active pharmaceutical ingredients, in your supplements. But, how to check it? FDA and vitamin supplements regulation is associated with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). A GMP facility must comply with the standards mandated by pharmaceutical manufacturers. Those are high-quality standards, therefore, the seal of GMP on the label can help assure that these supplements are free from contamination and are accurately labeled. Lack of that tag may be signed labeling discrepancies.

3. Check Out the Company Website

Who are the people behind the company? Are they scientists, herbalists, and doctors? Check on the company website! Some dietary supplement manufacturers use contact option such as a toll-free phone number and/or live chat. Those companies care about good reputation and their experts are always available to clarify your doubts. Many supplements on the market are sold as private label brands. Those dietary supplement manufacturers rarely use expertise in their supplements. So, try to avoid them.

4. Explore the Evidence Of Effectiveness

You want to know why some ingredient is a supplement, as well as what is its role in your organism. Some dietary supplement manufacturers use links to provide outside studies about their product’s ingredients. Look for the companies that put more money into the research and development of safe and effective products. So, find them and inform yourself if their supplements are clinically proven to support health.

5. Be Sure About Therapeutic Dosages

Therapeutic dosage is the minimum amount of a nutrient necessary to provide any real benefit. This can be easier to find with single-ingredient supplements. But, in a multi-ingredient supplement such as a multivitamin, they should be labeled separately. Besides, it may contain ingredients that work together, increasing each other benefits and absorption. So, it is better to buy a supplement containing one ingredient with a clear indicated dose and beware of the ingredient interactions in case you are taking multiple supplements together. Try consulting your doctor about taking those supplements together.

Also, Keep in Mind…

The research and development (R&D) of safe and effective products is not a cheap process. So, your supplement may have a higher price. Although you should know, a high price isn’t an insurance of a high-quality product.

If you buy a herbal supplement, you need to know which part of the plant you need to use, as well as the amount of the active ingredient. Also, an herbal supplement may be contaminated with other herbs, pesticides, or metals, or even adulterated with unlabeled, illegal ingredients such as prescription drugs.

Aleksandra C.
Medical student, freelancer, fitness enthusiastic.
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