Useful Guide to Buying Nutritional Supplements
Updated: Jun 5
If you’ve ever walked into a natural health food store or googled “nutritional supplements,” you probably felt overwhelmed with all the different kinds and brands staring you in the face.
That happened to me yesterday. I was at Sprouts and needed a supplement(s) for joint, tissue, muscle and cartilage repair. Just like the bread aisle in a grocery store, the choices before me were abundant, complex and difficult to make.
Because the prices were all over the board, I wondered which brand was the best in terms of quality, effectiveness and value. That’s one part of my life I won’t compromise on – the health and wellness of my body, mind and spirit.
And neither should you.
Here are 3 Worthwhile Steps to Take When Choosing Dietary Supplements
1. Determine Which Supplements You Need
Google what each supplement does, its benefits and potential risks. Search reputable nutritional supplement websites. Look for studies and other reliable proof from credible publications, such as NIH PubMed or NCBI. Ask your doctor or a nutritionist for guidance.
Read the label and pay attention to the ingredient forms as they are not the same from one brand to the next. If you order online, avoid any product that doesn’t list the full ingredients or label on its website.
You get what you pay for, so don’t buy the cheapest brand because it may contain ingredients in a form that may be hard for our body to absorb. Supplements don’t have to be expensive to make the :high-quality and notably effective" list. However, if one brand is significantly less expensive than the others, consider that a red flag and steer clear of it.
In general, supplements are very safe. However, some can be harmful in high doses. It’s especially important to avoid getting too much of vitamins A, D, E and K, because they are not water soluble, which means they can build up in your body and potentially reach toxic levels.
Take note of the formulation. Supplements that contain several ingredients often work together synergistically, so that each ingredient enhances the benefit of the others.
If a product claims it will diagnose, treat, cure or prevent a disease, be extremely cautious. Any supplement that sounds too good to be true, probably is.
Choose brands labeled with the NSF International, US Pharmacopeia or ConsumerLab seal. The Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) seal (regulations made by the FDA) is also very important. These seals verify that the product does, in fact, contain the ingredients that the label says it does, and that the product doesn’t have any potentially harmful ingredients. Supplements come in different forms like pills, liquids or powders so you’ll want to choose the one that's right for you.
2. Find High-quality Brands and Stick With Them
Do your homework and learn which brands continually earn good ratings from testing services like consumerlab.com or supplementreviews.com. Then stick with those quality brands for most of your purchases.
While reading the label will give you a basic understanding of the supplement’s form and dosage, there’s no way to know the true quality of its ingredients including purity, potency, bioavailability, freshness and sustainability. You must do your due diligence and find an honest, trustworthy brand.
Choose three or four favorite brands and buy most of your supplements from them online. You’ll get the most reliable products at a reasonable price.
It is very important to consider a company’s integrity and reputation when it comes to buying the finest supplements on the market. Purchasing decisions are ultimately based on trust, so if a company has a loyal customer base and fans on Facebook and Amazon Review, that’s typically a good sign. If a brand has also earned the kudos of health professionals, you know you’ve found a winner.
If a company doesn’t even have a website, run the other way, fast! Do a Google search on the company or product, skim through the results, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn very quickly.
If you're on a tight budget, google “popular dietary supplement brands” and go with your gut on the results that come up.
If you can afford to spend a little more money, google “premium dietary supplement brands” and spend some time comparing different brands and products.
If you want assurance provided by a 3rd party independent lab, go to ConsumberLab Top Brands.
Take other consumers’ reviews into consideration and weigh the pros and cons but ultimately, you want to make an informed decision yourself.
3. Choose Which Outlet to Buy From
Retail Stores: WalMart, Target, COSTCO, Sam’s Club, etc. Downsides: Less choice of brands and varieties. Staff isn't knowledgeable about supplements.
Pharmacy Stores: Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc. Downsides: Staff may provide some useful information, but they likely won't have in-depth knowledge about supplements. Limited choices and higher prices.
Specialty Stores: GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, etc. Upsides: Many choices and knowledgeable staff. Downsides: Higher prices to cover their physical storefront.
Amazon: It’s the most wide-ranging website in the U.S. with a huge selection of supplements from many different brands.
Popular Online Stores: iHerb, Vitacost, eVitamin and LuckyVitamin are just a few stores that specialize in selling thousands of natural products and brands.
Manufacturer’s Website: Some manufacturers like Swanson, Puritan’s Pride and Now Foods primarily sell from their own website. Others like Nature Made and Centrum will redirect you to their retailers’ websites.
Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Companies
Well-known MLMs include: Melaleuca, Herbalife and Amway. MLM products are not available through retail channels and can only be bought through one of their independent distributors (a/k/a “associates”) or by direct order through their company.
While shopping for the best supplements on the market can be overwhelming at times, it’s also a great way to educate and empower yourself with beneficial information. After all, knowledge is power for your body, mind and spirit.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my first blog post as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it!
If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to log in and comment below.
To your optimal health & wellness,
Shelli Schilke | Owner & Freelance Copywriter | Copywriting Cache