We all know the huge choice of supplements on the market today. It feels like new supplements are launched everyday promising to improve your health, help you return to youth or give you larger muscles and more energy!
The idea of taking a pill and feeling stellar, looking better and healthy is tempting. We are busy and we want a quick solution, a quick fix.
It is important to make informed decisions from a place of confidence and not fear.
But you are a smart health-conscious consumer. You want to make sure you’re making wise choices with your health, wellness and money.
Nobody wants to spend money and all they receive is expensive green urine.
What is a supplement?
This is an extra substance or element added (to our diet) in order to complete or enhance it. In this case we choose to take a food or medicinal supplement like vitamins, protein powders, energy drinks or bars etc to complete or enhance our fitness, health and wellness.
8 CRUCIAL TIPS WHEN TAKING SUPPLEMENTS:
1: If you live in a country that licenses or pre-approves supplements then make sure you’re getting the real thing, and not an illegally imported version.
This is your health, and it’s important enough to make sure you’re getting a product that at least meets the minimum requirements in your country.
There are always recalls and safety alerts issued for contaminated supplements, or products that don’t contain what they say they do.
This health authority approval is not a reliable measure of quality, but it does have some benefits worth considering.
If you have to look up the company or product online or call them, don’t be afraid to ask those questions before you use any health products. If the only address or phone number is not in your country, then you may want to choose a different supplement. In Sweden there is a distinction between food and medicinal supplements, but otherwise in general individual ingredients are regulated.
2: Read the warnings, cautions and contraindications.
Check the label for things like:
To consult a healthcare practitioner if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding,
If you have certain medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, ulcers),
If you are taking certain medications (e.g. like blood thinners or immune suppressants,)
If you are taking other supplements are there possible interactions?
If you shouldn’t take it for more than a certain length of time (6 or 8 weeks)
If you need to take it with water or a meal
If there are common side effects eg. laxative effect
If you should avoid alcohol or if it non drowsy
3: Look at the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients for ingredients you might be allergic to, or have reacted to in the past.
Just as you would do this with foods, do this with supplements. I have a wheat and gluten intolerance and generally limit or avoid dairy and sugar so this information is very important. I believe looking at the ingredients of all products you ingest in a good practice to adopt. You develop a mindful connection between what you eat and how you feel in your body.
If you’ve used a product before, check it each time you buy it. Manufacturers may make changes to ingredients from time to time.
Any credible supplement company will list every active ingredient, as well as the inactive ingredients. The print may be small, but it’s a good idea to check.
If you can’t find information give them a call. Most reputable companies have a free number on the bottle, or at the very least their website address.
4: Read the labelled “Indications” or “Uses”
What is the company claiming that their product can help you with?
Look for scientific studies, or look it up on credible websites that don’t make money from selling supplements. It’s great to really ask yourself too, ‘why am I taking this?’
5: What “dose forms” can you get (tablets, capsules, powder, liquid)?
The most reliable form is capsules. This is because tablets and caplets are not very easy to absorb because they’re compacted into a hard form that sometimes doesn’t break down in your digestive system.
Powders and liquids are easier to swallow and to absorb and so great for kids or squeamish adults like me, but they can go off quicker because every time you open the bottle, you’re exposing all of the contents to the oxygen, moisture and microbes in the air. They can also be difficult to get accurate dosing (especially if they need to be shaken well).
Capsules are powders placed into disolvable capsules. You can get vegan capsules or gelatin capsules. They’re not compressed, so they’re more easily absorbed (they’re still loose powder), and the capsule itself provides an extra layer of protection from oxidation and contamination from the air.
6: How much/many do you need for a recommended dose?
This is important because you may not want to take many capsules per day in order to get the recommended dose. Plus, many bottles contain a 30 day supply. This helps you see how much you need to take, as well as the real cost per dose.
Is the label information based on one capsule, two..? The amounts of each nutrient listed on the label may be based on each dose, or the entire daily dose. I find this so confusing at times when looking at the daily recommended intake for example for prenatal supplements. I always have to double check for example my current prenatal tablets recommend 2 tablets per day and the recommended daily intake for each vitamin on the label are for 2 tablets.
7: Check the storage requirements and expiry date.
These two go hand-in-hand because the expiry date is based on how that supplement degrades over time at certain temperatures, humidity and light exposure. I’m not going to lie. I refrigerate all liquid supplements and medicine!
If the bottle says that it should be refrigerated, make sure it’s in the fridge at the store, or shipped in a refrigerated truck.
If it says to refrigerate after opening, then make sure once it’s opened, you keep it in your fridge.
If it says to keep out of sunlight, make sure the store/shipping company is doing that, and that you do that too. This is sometimes why supplements are in dark or opaque bottles – to prevent sunlight from degrading it before the expiry date.
It’s probably not a great idea taking supplements past their expiry date. After this date the manufacturer does not guarantee the quality or dose of the product.
8. If you’re trying a new supplement for the first time, start slow.
Keep an eye out for both positive and negative reactions, and act accordingly.
You don’t have to dive right into a full daily dose on day 1. Try starting with half-doses, or skipping days for a week or two before ramping up to the recommended dose. I do this if I see any wheat or gluten ingredients in the supplements.
I hope these eight tips help you! Thank you for reading.
Do you have any tips to add?
Email me, Niomi: firstname.lastname@example.org