Unfortunately, most of us can’t rely on food alone to meet all of our nutritional needs. Our soil and crops have been so tampered with that many of them have been depleted of vital minerals and vitamins. We also have to think about our environment and toxins that we ingest and are exposed to in our everyday lives. Lucky for us, we can take dietary supplements to make up for what we are lacking in. In order to figure out your deficiencies, I recommend getting a full blood panel done.
At my center, we use the results to recommend which supplements are right for patients, while streamlining and only suggesting what is necessary. I have yet to recommend the same supplement regimen as it is a highly-individualized process. Many patients come to me taking a whole slew of supplements because they read or heard on T.V. that it’s life-changing. This is where you can get into trouble. You could be overdosing on something you do not need or taking the wrong thing entirely. My advice is to get your bloodwork done instead of guessing what you need to take.
Once you figure out what you should be supplementing with (if anything), there are four key things to look for when deciding which brand of supplements to buy (hint: they are all not created equal).
- Certified (USP or NSF)- The USP label means that it contains the ingredients listed on the label in the declared strength and amounts, does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants, is made according to FDA and USP Good Manufacturing Practices, and uses sanitary and well-controlled processes. If NSF is on the label it means it was reviewed to certify that what’s on the label is in the bottle, toxicology reviewed to certify product formulation (they don’t test for efficacy), and contaminant reviewed to ensure the product contains no undeclared ingredients or unacceptable levels of contaminants.
- Clear ingredients, amounts and source of plant labelled– Make sure all ingredients are clearly listed. As a consumer, you have the right to know what is in your supplements.
- Expiration dates– If there are no expiration dates on the bottle, put it back. It could have been on the shelf for years!
- Quality testing– Companies whose products have been third-party tested by a company like Consumer Lab, provides an extra layer of protection with an objective stamp of approval. Select a company that has proven, high-quality products with the efficacy tests to back it up.