There are many supplement options on the market, but it can be difficult for people to determine which products are high quality, safe, and effective. Sadly, many supplements have fillers such as heavy metals, gluten, artificial colors or flavors, hydrogenated oils, and other contaminants. Additionally, the FDA does not approve dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness. Here is a four-step guide to help you select a high-quality and safe product.
CHECK LABELS FOR ADDED INGREDIENTS AND BIOAVAILABILITY OF VITAMINS:
When selecting a dietary supplement, it is important to read the ingredients in the product. Manufacturers frequently use fillers that could be problematic for consumers, like gluten, Red No. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow No. 5 and 6, and soybean oil, to name a few.
Understanding the bioavailability of vitamins is important because it directly affects how the supplement will be absorbed and used in the body. For example, manufacturers often substitute an “inactive form” instead of the “active form” of vitamin B12 because it is cheaper. However, Cyanocobalamin (the inactive form) is poorly absorbed by the body, while Methylcobalamin (the active form) of vitamin B12 is easily used by the body, making it the higher quality ingredient and more bioavailable.
CHECK FOR THE QUALITY OF THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS.
Good Manufacturing Practice, or GMP, is a system that ensures products consistently adhere to the quality standards of the FDA. Look for “GMP Certified” on the bottle or on the website.
LOOK FOR THIRD-PARTY VERIFICATION SUCH AS “NSF CERTIFIED,” “CONSUMERLAB,” “USP,” OR THEIR STATEMENT THAT THEY ARE THIRD-PARTY TESTED TO ENSURE PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY.
Most products that are third-party tested will look for one or more of the following:
- The supplement contains what is stated on the label and in the amounts listed.
- The products are standardized from batch to batch.
- The supplement is free of harmful levels of contaminants or other potential drug contaminants.
- The product does not contain any undeclared ingredients.
If you want to do further research on a particular brand, companies should be able to provide a certificate of analysis (COA) upon request.
FIND A TRUSTED COMPANY/PARTY TO BUY SUPPLEMENTS.
Amazon is an easy way to purchase supplements, but the quality of dietary supplements/vitamins that are sold through a third-party website cannot be guaranteed. For example, a study on immune boosting supplements bought off Amazon and tested in a lab for quality purposes found that more than half of the product’s contents were not reflected accurately on the facts label. When purchasing supplements that meet the standards above, it is best to purchase them directly from their supplier or a trusted provider.
Many trusted brands produce high-quality ingredients and nutrients that meet all four suggestions in this guide. A few of my favorites are Thorne, FullWell, Designs for Health, and Seeking Health. Remember, before you start taking any supplements, it is important to talk to your provider!
With the principles of functional nutrition as the foundation, our nutrition team at Sundara Wellness can help manage hormonal balance and much more. To contact Cody, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cody Giovannetti, RDN, LDN, IBCLC, is a Registered Dietitian specializing in GI issues, thyroid dysfunction, prenatal/postpartum nutrition, autoimmune disease, metabolic syndrome, nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, hormone imbalances, and more.