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Guest Column: How to choose the best supplements

Dietician’s Digest by Kelli Sanderson

As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with marketing of any product imaginable. Frequently advertised are pharmaceuticals and other products to solve all your health problems. The best thing you can do before investing into these products is be informed. Safety, purity and effectiveness should be the top priority when it comes to what you put in your body. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself.

Do I need it?

The first question we should all ask is if we truly need to be taking a product. Make your priority eating real, nutrient-dense food that will fuel your body and provide necessary nutrients. If you can avoid the potential of toxins or unnecessary supplements by improving diet and lifestyle, those changes should be made first. True, sustainable improvement to health requires time; don’t believe the fast-and-easy gimmicks many companies are trying to sell. Nutritional changes can take over a month to be noticeable.

Kelli Sanderson

Kelli Sanderson

Is it safe?

Although the label may say one thing, the ingredient list may say another. Do your research to know if the contents are actually going to benefit your health. There are products on the shelves containing harmful contaminants. With loose regulations, you must take responsibility to be an informed consumer. A trustworthy product has research to prove its safety. Allergens are also another consideration to make; intolerance to ingredients will reduce a product’s effectiveness. Filler additives may not be listed under active ingredients and could be an allergen. Be aware of the possibility of drug interactions and always check with your doctor before beginning to take new supplements.

Is it pure?

Is the product Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) certified? Unlike pharmaceuticals, which are tightly regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, dietary supplements are not. The FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before being marketed. A company must take initiative to hire a third party to test their products before becoming GMP certified. GMP is a system for ensuring products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. They regulate everything from starting materials to staff hygiene to ensure safe, pure products.

Is it effective?

When it comes to effectiveness, a variety of factors are involved. One factor to consider is bioavailability. Bioavailability is the capability of your body to use the substance and for it to have an active effect. A product may contain the ingredient you are looking for, but unless it is an accessible form, your body will not use it. The product will simply pass through your digestive system and be excreted as a foreign substance. Another factor of effectiveness to recognize is cost. If products are full of fillers you will need to take a higher dosage than products free of unnecessary additives. In many cases, high quality products are more cost effective than other less expensive options.

In review, know what you are purchasing. Know what is in it, what the contents do and how it will affect you. If you are unsure of a product, err on the side of caution and don’t put it in your body. Purchase products that are supported by true experts and proven to be high quality. Products may not always differ in appearance but often differ in performance. Be an informed consumer, and nutritional supplements will benefit your efforts towards good health.