To Supplement or not to Supplement?
It is best to get as many nutrients as possible through diet. However, it is very difficult to obtain balanced, sufficient amounts for optimal health in today’s age. Vitamins and minerals from food are typically better absorbed and provide additional benefits, like antioxidants and phytochemicals that you do not typically find in a supplement. Fruits and vegetables are another example that contain enzymes & fiber which aid in digestion.
Diet can also offer a broader spectrum and synergy between nutrients that help maximize absorption and our body’s ability to utilize them. This occurs in individual foods, but especially when combined as a meal. For example, a mushroom omelet may contain both vitamin D2 & D3, whereas most supplements only contain the vitamin D3 form. Likewise, pairing iron rich foods with vitamin C containing foods has been shown to improve absorption of iron.
The simplest way to develop a nutrient-rich diet is by trying to eat a wide variety of whole foods, like what centuries of our ancestors ate. Avoid processed foods and ingredients you cannot identify. Challenge yourself to try a new food each week and to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
However, even those who eat healthily will fall short in some micronutrients and some are harder to obtain in sufficient amounts than others. Today’s food chain does not provide the nutrients it did in the past. Even the “best foods” from the organic section or farmers market are deficient in micronutrients, only 50-70% of previous levels. The nourishment gap widens with factors that decrease our ability to absorb nutrients. External factors like toxins and chemicals along with internal factors like stress, anxiety, and food intolerances further make wise supplementation worth considering for the vast majority of people.
Why You Should Choose a Supplement Wisely
With thousands of supplements on the market, it is not always clear which brands are high quality, a waste of money, or even potentially dangerous. The FDA does not evaluate effectiveness, safety, or quality of supplements or ingredients. There is no guarantee that they contain what they claim to or whether each batch is manufactured to the same standard. How companies handle raw materials, synergy in formulations, quality of manufacturing, fillers, testing, storage, etc. varies significantly.
Due to limited regulation, it comes down to the honesty, integrity, and transparency of a reputable company. From misleading claims to unnecessary additives, you really should do your homework and will typically get what you pay for.
How to Choose a Quality Supplement Company
There is a reason that high quality supplements cost more. Companies pay more for the best raw materials, research, quality testing, manufacturing, and storage.
Quality & Transparency
To choose a quality supplement company, check out their website. How transparent are they about their practices and quality? What do they share about their research and formulations? Raw material sourcing and testing? Manufacturing processes, quality control, and safety? Do they welcome and respond to your questions?
Third Party Testing
Third party testing is not required by law but is an indication of a company focused on quality. More reputable companies often voluntarily test raw materials (purity, potency, etc.) and the finished product (contaminants, validation of what is on the label with nothing more, standardization batch-to-batch, etc.). There are a variety of certifications manufacturers can participate with to verify that their product contains what is on the label such as NSF & USP.
US Pharmacopoeia (USP) certified products are pharmaceutical-grade products created to be the supplement’s purest form. Supplements labeled pharmaceutical grade must be at least 99% pure with extremely limited binders, fillers, excipients, dyes, or unknown substances.
Read the Labels
Be wary of misleading labels. Look for transparency and trustworthiness. Look for fillers, additives, allergens and look up ingredients you do not recognize. The fewer unknown ingredients the better.
Do they make outrageous claims that seem too good to be true? A reputable company may list organs or body systems the product has been designed to support based on latest research but will not claim to cure or treat a disease in accordance with FDA regulations. Do they clearly list everything in the bottle? Do they name every ingredient specifically? Do they play name games to make things sound better (i.e., renaming ‘sugar’ to ‘dehydrated cane syrup’)?
Fillers & Additives
The best supplements have very little to no fillers, such as pharmaceutical grade supplements. Additives may be used to increase shelf life, encapsulate, or bind ingredients together, or improve the texture, color, taste, or consistency. While some small amount of fillers may be necessary, it is best to avoid supplements that contain a long list of additives. Extra fillers also increase profits for manufacturers while decreasing the health benefit to the end user. These additives can have negative effects, especially on the gut, blocking the very nutrients you are hoping to absorb.
Look out for supplements containing artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavorings. Some other common fillers include cellulose, stearic acid, gelatin, soybean oil, maltodextrin, potassium sorbate, silicon dioxide, citric acid, titanium dioxide, soy lecithin, magnesium stearate, and sorbitol.
Check the Expiration Date
Does your company reveal the manufacture and expiration date? This is another sign of a reputable company. Products can lose potency over time or go bad. For example, fish oils can go rancid.
Verify How They’ve Been Stored
If possible, learn about how the supplements are handled from warehouse to consumer. Is the warehouse temperature and humidity controlled for all products? How do they handle shipping and storage of temperature sensitive products that require refrigeration, such as certain probiotics? How long are they on a truck?
The same goes for storage at home. Keep them in a cool, dry location or refrigerated, as necessary.
Buy from a Reputable Resaler
Does choosing a quality supplement seem overwhelming? Consider purchasing supplements from someone who you know and trust to have done all this research for you. Experienced chiropractors, integrative, and functional health professionals may have done this research for you and chosen their favorites for their clients.
If you are in the Minnetonka area, we would love to tell you about the supplements our chiropractors have carefully chosen for our patients. Call, email or stop by (just off Hwy 7 by the General Store) to learn more. Talk to your chiropractor about what supplements are best for you.
Save on quality supplements as a Wellness Rewards Member. We are supporting your holistic health with 10% off all products any time + an extra 5% off any supplements on monthly autopay.
Dr. Lynn Miller
Doctor of Chiropractic, Minnetonka, MN
A word about choosing supplements from Dr. Tivy: