Tips on How to Choose Good Supplements and Reputable Dietary Supplement Brands

Normal diets based on regular meals are often lacking in one micronutrient or the other. Because of this, people look for other sources of supplementary nutrition. The intention is good, however, it has led many people to some pretty dark places.

FDA Supplements

FDA Supplements

For people without deficiency of any vitamin or mineral, supplements are just extra boosts. However, they can and have been abused. This is risky as it can lead to direct toxicity or react with certain prescriptions.

Whether you are taking supplements as extra, or as full nutrient suppliers, there are certain measures you should be aware of. This is to prevent you from harming your body in the process of helping your body.

Read Also: HGH Supplements Reviews: Can they Really Raise HGH Levels Naturally?

Why the bother?

As said earlier, supplements are majorly for deficiency problems. However, the issue with supplements is that there is a growing black market for them. This is affecting the trust, health, and effectiveness of medical prescriptions. There are varying extents of side effects from supplements reported every day, most especially liver malfunction. Several guidelines are written to guide consumers on choosing the right supplement and supplement brand.

Are supplements safe?

There is quite some evidence suggesting that supplements, as sources of nutrition, have helped several people. However, a balanced diet gives all the necessary vitamins and nutrients compared to many supplements. This points out that supplements are just extras and should not be primarily depended on for nutrients, except in deficiencies.

In the same vein, supplements are not safe for daily consumption. The first reason is that presence of a supplement in a pharmacy or all-natural food store does not determine the credibility of the supplement. Some supplement brands do not put all their ingredients on the product label; they just tag it “all-natural”. People should be careful as these supplements can react with other prescriptions taken at that time. It can also cause adverse effects when working alone. Not every supplement sold over the counter is a safe one.

Read Also: FDA Enforcing Strict Actions On Illegal Dietary Supplements

Also, not all supplements approved by Food and Drug Administration, meet the criteria for intake. The administration gives a detailed check of everything about the brand, and even post complaints on side effects. However, they do not vet the extent and concentration of the supplement. There are even new supplements in the market, that do not have FDA approval. This is because the FDA rules on supplements are not as strict as those of drugs. Therefore, the responsibility of product safety rests on the shoulders of the manufacturers. This is not a trustworthy safety measure.

Moreover, there are supplements to be very careful about. These are the ones that have labels of “better than (prescribed drug)”, or “totally safe”  and all other similar labels.

What are the quality control conditions for supplements?

According to PhytAge Laboratories although most supplements are made with natural ingredients, there are extreme conditions brands have to meet and some do not. These conditions also involve manufacturing processes (Good manufacturing practice (GMP)) that must be met. Meeting these conditions determines the quality of the supplement. The quality control of supplements is not so tight and this holds serious implications for consumers. The quality control major targets include:

  • Complexity(formula): It is known that no matter how simple a supplement is, it is very difficult to pinpoint the main ingredient. In almost all situations, the components work together to give the said effect. However, this interaction can alter the patterned function of an organ or a pathway in the body. Complexity is a major check tool in supplements, to prevent mishaps.
  • Identity: Some ingredients used are related to other ingredients that they are similar to. This is another quality checkpoint, as plants are very different no matter their similarities. Another checkpoint under this is pathogen identification. This is necessary as there can be contamination from the soil or other media.
  • Contamination control: This measures the possibility of direct toxicity of the supplement to a consumer’s system. It also involves knowing all the possible indirect toxicities, by reaction with a prescription, or change of PH or temperature. This checkpoint is very crucial as people are always exposed to things that can change their basal physiognomy.
  • Concentration: Organizations like the European Food Safety Authorization, give a detailed check on the concentration of each ingredient of a supplement. All ingredients are to meet the target level for the group of patients that the supplement is for.

GMP criteria require clean work areas, prevention of cross-contamination, involving third-party verification, using clearly defined techniques, etc.

Read Also: Health Supplements Still Popular Even With Controversy

How to select the right supplements and vitamins.

Given that supplements are made of either concentrated, dehydrated whole foods or synthetic nutrients, there are many fake products. Some might not be fake, but the wrong dosage can lead to serious problems in your body. These steps would guide you in selecting the right supplements for yourself:

  • Talk with your doctor first: The reason for involving a health practitioner in this process is purely for safety. For emphasis, certain supplements react with certain prescriptions. For example, all G-herbs like ginger, garlic, can lead to serious bleeding and bruising when combined with some prescriptions. Talk to your doctor about what you should take, if you need it, what form it should be in, and other necessary questions. Your practitioner should be aware of what you’re taking so they can understand any change in body conditions in the process of treatment. Most cancer patients turn to supplements and herbal procedures of which most are not discussed. This is very risky as certain ingredients can react to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other measures of treatment. Some supplements can be harmful to pregnant women, lactating mothers, children, people with heart issues, and other groups. It is unfair to both the doctors and the patients.
  • Be sure of the dosage you are to take: In some cases, the supplement is not fake but the dosage is wrong. A wrong dosage in herbs, minerals, and even vitamins can lead to certain effects. Most patients see these nutrients as good and should be taken in large quantities. This is a misconception because no matter the high levels were taken, the body only absorbs what it needs. Excess vitamin B7 (Biotin) can cause the wrong reading of laboratory results, indirectly leading to wrong prescriptions. Also, do not take vitamin A, D, E, and K supplements at high levels as they can lead to various effects. People should not forget the fact that supplements are majorly for people with deficient nutrients. Therefore the dosage can be high for that group of people, but not for you.
  • Research for evidence on the action of the supplement: This includes checking websites for notable publications. You can even try calling the manufacturer to ask about certain concentrations and dosage if you’re not still satisfied. You can also confirm the lot number to confirm if it is a fake or original supplement.
  • Check the labels: Look for third-party verification labels like NSF international, US pharmacopeia, underwriters laboratory, or consumer lab seal. The presence of any label of these organizations means that the supplement contains the said ingredients and has no harmful constituents.

Read Also: Taking Dietary Supplements Is Not Always Safe

What makes a supplement brand trustworthy?

Most certainly, accreditations and qualification labels are the most trusting factors of supplement brands. This is a strong point, and other factors come under it.

Most brands are trusted because of their already made name from friends and family. This can be a good thing but also a downside. The good thing is that their product might be very good, that there is more positive feedback than negative. The downside is that the supplement might be good for others, but not good for you. Everybody’s body condition differs in one way or the other.

Another trusting factor is the use of high-quality ingredients and multiple lab tests. Most users check for lab processes when looking for trusted supplements online. For even organic supplements, some brands meet up to this standard of multiple lab tests before releasing their product.

Also, the mode of distribution of some brands affects the trust level in buyers. Some supplement brands do not sell online or in retail stores. They sell directly to doctors and vast medical practitioners. This is a major boost of trust levels from the buyers. This is because they believe their doctors are conversant with this brand and would know if this product is good for them, or contains harmful ingredients.

There are however some manufacturers that go above and beyond what is required by the FDA and actually do clinical studies on their products. An example of a product that is backed by a double clinical study is Genf20 Plus.

Read Also: The FDA Undertakes New Steps to Help Remove Illegal Ingredients From Dietary Supplements

Final thoughts

As consumers strive to save their health, manufacturers should also be held accountable and take responsibility. It is very cruel to give out a fake supplement that adversely affects people, for whatever reason. Brands that meet the quality recommendations for all their products should be registered under a database that should be easily accessible by the public. The Food and Drug Administration should make the control system of supplements tight, with a high standard. This is because the number of individuals that turn to supplements is on a steady increase.

Brands should be truthful and take the buyer-be informed stance. They should include disclaimers that tell the consumers either that their product had not been evaluated by FDA, or their product is just an extra and not a drug. This honestly will prevent misleading consumers in various situations.

References

Dietary Supplements | FDA

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