Monday, March 5, 2012

6 Tips for Choosing the Best Supplement Brand

Are you getting your money's worth from your supplement? Make sure the manufacturer is ensuring a high-quality product by following these practices.

A variety of supplement capsules and pills on a table.
How do you choose supplement brands?

Have you ever stood in the aisle of a supplement and herbal section wondering which brand to buy? Or shopped online and found yourself questioning the price discrepancy between two similar products?

Companies with higher standards charge more for their products because they run additional tests to make certain you are getting a safer, more effective product. Look for manufacturers that take the following steps to ensure a higher-quality product:  

  1. Test for contamination: Manufacturers should test both raw and finished materials for contaminants such as bacteria, mold, heavy metals, pesticides or wrong plant species.
  2. Verify label ingredients: Research has shown that some products may contain more or less of an ingredient than reported on the label. For example, some red yeast rice products were found to have less than the reported amount, making them less effective at lowering cholesterol. Other nutritional products have been found to have higher levels of nutrients than reported on the label, resulting in cases of vitamin and mineral toxicity. Better-quality companies test the final product to make sure it contains the amounts reported.
  3. Use no fillers: Fillers may contain allergens and/or decrease absorption of supplements. Good manufacturers minimize use of fillers or use hypoallergenic fillers.
  4. Reveal expiration dates or manufacturing dates: Check dates as products can lose potency or go bad with age. For example, fish oils can go rancid and should not be consumed past their expiration date. 
  5. Utilize sustainable agriculture and harvesting practices: Good companies use local sustainable agriculture and harvesting practices and avoid using threatened or endangered plants. 
  6. Include the highest quality nutrients: Higher-end supplement companies choose more absorbable and effective forms of vitamins and minerals.

Choosing the right supplements and knowing which brands to buy can be very challenging. Fortunately, you do not have to make these decisions alone. Naturopathic doctors are licensed physicians specializing in the appropriate application of medicinal herbs and nutritional supplements.

To make an appointment with a naturopathic doctor who can review of your current supplements and/or to evaluate which supplements would be best for you, call Bastyr Center for Natural Health at (206) 834-4100.

— Marisa Pellegrini, ND, naturopathic physician and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University.

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