A Guide To Buying Supplements
There are many things to keep in mind when buying supplements. It seems that no two supplements are alike so it’s very difficult to make like for like comparisons. However, there are a few things you can consider before you purchase.
Quality is first and foremost.
The quality of the supplement is only as good as the quality of the raw materials that have gone into it. It’s also important for manufacturing processes and practices of the company to be of a high standard, as nutrients can be destroyed along the way.
The nutrients themselves need to be bioavailable as this determines whether what you are ingesting, is actually useful to the body.
When you are looking at that bottle on the shelf, firstly take a look at the ingredients on the back.
Are the ingredients food derived or are they synthetic? This also affects bioavailability.
Let’s have a look at a simple example.
This can be sourced from food for example broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, orange juice, papaya, red, green or yellow pepper, or it can be synthetically derived. The synthetically derived form is called Ascorbic Acid.
Synthetically derived products are called isolates - they are cheap to make and are not bioavailable. This means that our body does not know how to use them. Our body has to work out how to use the ingredient and this can be an energetically taxing process – converting it to a useable form.
Ascorbic Acid is artificial or, man-made. It is manufactured by fermenting corn dextrose. Keeping this in mind, 89% of corn grown in China or in the USA is genetically modified. If the product you are buying is imported from one of these countries, the you need to consider the prevalent use of pesticides and herbicides. You would need to ask yourself – has this product or raw material been tested for bacteria and mycotoxins? These potentially affect the overall quality of the end product – Vitamin C.
Let’s look at manufacturing.
It’s ideal to have supplements manufactured under conditions where the raw materials are not subject to light, heat or oxygen. Let’s take the example of Essential Fatty Acids, Omega 6 or 3 – if these are manufactured in the presence of light, heat and oxygen, they will be damaged before they even get packaged. This will affect their quality and they will not be effective. You will be buying damaged goods.
It’s also important to know whether there are excipients in your product. Excipients can be anything from fillers, to binders to flow agents. These are added to make the manufacturing process easier – so that equipment doesn’t need to be cleaned as often, and also prevents equipment from breaking down. They can bulk up the product so the capsule is full. Some examples are cellulose, gelatine, stearic acid, magnesium stearate, potassium sorbate, titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide, artificial colours and flavours. Some of these are known to be harmful.
By law, companies are not required to tell you what these are.
Companies are usually super proud when their manufacturing processes are clean, their raw materials are high in quality and their sources can be verified. They will be more than happy to show you their certifications and proof of their lab testing.
Sometimes you will come across the word proprietary. If a company does not want to tell you about the results of their lab testing for proprietary reasons, then this should raise a red flag for you. As mentioned, lab test results should be made available on request.
However, if they use a proprietary blend of herbs, then this secrecy is a legitimate reason for not sharing nutrient ratios albeit they still have to list every single ingredient in their blend.
So, in summary:
1. Check quality
a. Nutrient quality
b. Manufacturing quality
2. Food derived or synthetic – bioavailable or energy taxing
3. Are there fillers, binders, flow agents in the product. What are they, where are they sourced.
4. Are certifications, quality assurance available.
It’s so tempting when faced with multiple choices to be guided by price. Remember that when your body needs the support of extra nutrients, the last thing you want to be doing is giving it poor quality synthetically derived products that will be energetically taxing on your body.
Give your body the support it deserves.
Source: Nutritional Therapy Association