How to Evaluate Your Supplements for Safety and Efficacy
Are your supplements worth it?
There are hundreds of thousands of supplements on the market today and it seems like every hour a new one is coming out. I get asked about supplements all the time and I can’t even keep up! So how is someone who is not a nutrition expert supposed to know if the supplement is worth it?
The answer is evaluating it! I’m going to share with you what I use to evaluate supplements for safety and efficacy, so keep reading.
Is there a need or reason for you to take the supplement?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client tell me they take x, y, z supplements and don’t know why. They just heard it was good for them but really haven’t noticed a difference. Unless a doctor or registered dietitian has prescribed a supplement to you, think twice about taking it. Since supplements are not regulated, there’s risk involved with taking them. Food is always going to be better absorbed and utilized by your body unless you are deficient.
Has it been third party tested?
There are several companies that offer third party testing and you can access the results of their findings. Two companies I use are NSF for Sport and Consumer Lab. If you are a collegiate/professional athlete who undergoes drug testing, you will want to make sure your supplement is certified by NSF, USP, ConsumerLab or UL . Some supplement companies use third party testing like Thorne Labs, which I highly recommend. Click here to check out their products. Choosing a supplement that has been tested is far better than one that has not.
Look for red flag words
There are ‘red flag words’ you’ll want to look out for on supplement bottles such as ‘hard-core’, ‘extreme’, and ‘proprietary blend’. Proprietary blend is just another way of saying “we don’t want you to know what or how much of anything is in this.” Unfortunately, you could be getting laundry detergent in your supplement and you won’t know it until enough people file a claim with the FDA about adverse reactions.
Is it from a reputable company?
If you’ve never heard of the company, chances are there is a reason. This is of course not a hard and fast rule because there are some great, newer companies. However, to be on the safe side, stick with what you know. Stick with brands that have been around for a while and have good manufacturing practices like Nature Made, Thorne Labs, Centrum and One A Day.
Does it contain a banned or warned against substance?
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issues warnings against dangerous ingredients and will ban ingredients as well. Remember ephedra?? You can check out these warnings on the FDA’s website, like this one here.
Despite all the seals, certifications and years on the market, there really is no 100% way to tell that your bottle is 100% safe or effective.
That’s because not every single pill is tested. This is why focusing on real food and a healthy, well balanced diet first should always be your first line of defense. Sometimes food isn’t enough. So, if a doctor or registered dietitian (RD) recommends you take a supplement, do your research!
Meeting with a registered dietitian is also highly recommended so you can learn which foods you can easily swap in/out of your diet to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
Are you an athlete and need a customized training plan to support you in your sport? As a certified personal trainer specializing in athletic conditioning, I can help you increase power and strength with a customized training plan. You can learn about some incredible transformations my clients have had on the testimonials page!