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Choosing Your Nutritional Supplements

Not all Nutritional Supplements are Created Equally

Are you wasting money on cheap supplements that won't improve your health?


The most daunting task before any health-conscious individual is deciphering the media hype, advertising bombardment, and conflicting recommendations made by healthcare providers about nutritional supplementation. Do you feel comfortable in selecting the right supplement for your current condition? Do you know what else is in the pill, what dosage to take, and which form is most effective? To make it through this maze of information, and to get the expected results, it is essential for you to have a trained and qualified advocate to guide you through it.

Despite a struggling economy, one industry that continues to grow is the nutritional supplement market. Not only have large retail stores tapped into the market by starting to dedicate large sections in their aisles to supplements, but we are now seeing complete enterprises built around this product trend. With increasing consumer frustrations and skyrocketing costs in our current model of healthcare, more and more people are taking their health into their own hands. This paradigm shift puts more focus on diet modification, exercise, and nutritional supplementation. This strategy can prove to be very effective for disease prevention, but doesn't come without risks and pitfalls.

Keep in mind that even though some supplements can have a profound therapeutic effect, they should still be seen as just that - a supplement. The foundation of your health should be built upon regular exercise and a quality diet that is right for your body type.

The media would have you believe that some vitamins are a cure-all, or that only their proprietary blend could possibly be effective for relieving your symptoms. If you have ever tried self treatment with supplements and been disappointed, it is very likely that you weren't using a quality product at the right dosage. When you get a prescription from your medical doctor for an infection, you take the antibiotics on a very strict regimen, but do you ever grant your supplements the same respect? Do your supplements deserve that respect? Where you turn for advice on this subject is of vital importance. You owe it to yourself to find a trusted source you can turn to with all of your questions about supplementation. This source should not be an unqualified clerk at your local big box store, but rather an adequately trained healthcare professional.

Even among healthcare practitioners, there can be a wide range of opinions. Part of the reason for this is the lack of training required to give nutritional advice - think big box store clerk here. You might also be surprised to find out that most MD's and DO's receive little to no formal nutritional training in medical school, but rather have their focus on prescription drugs as a treatment for disease. You should not hesitate to ask your health care professional what kind of training they've had specific to diet and nutritional supplementation, as this will clearly affect how they respond to your questions on this topic. Some providers may be very opinionated or defensive in order to discourage questions on a topic where they lack knowledge.

So, which healthcare providers are likely to have substantial training in nutrition? Naturopathic Doctors, Doctors of Chiropractic, Dietitians, and Nutritionists would be a good place to start your search. These professions typically have multiple classes about nutrition, and focus on the use of diet modification and supplements for the treatment of various conditions. Regardless of what the individual learned in their core program, there are many informative seminars and certification programs now available on the topics of nutrition. Ask your trusted source how they received their training.

Another advantage of working with a healthcare provider trained in nutrition is the quality of products they utilize. There is a big difference between nutraceutical grade supplements (found only through licensed healthcare practitioners) and those found at retail stores. Part of the reason for this discrepancy is the lack of regulations within the supplement industry. To distinguish themselves as professional grade, some companies have imposed strict regulations upon themselves. These steps for quality control ensure better products.

Here are several key advantages of a quality supplement company:

- test for toxic metal contaminants like mercury and lead

- use only the most absorbable forms of minerals

- meet the latest FDA Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) guidelines

- use therapeutic ratios and dosages

- don't allow any potential allergens such as wheat, soy, corn, nuts, and dairy

- is based on scientific evidence

- use vegetable-based capsules and fillers

Here are some key things to look for in your supplements:

- GMP certified label

- avoid FD&C color additives

- avoid any Stearate lubricants (decrease absorption)

- avoid lactose or other allergens

- avoid plasticizers like propylene glycol

- avoid synthetic forms of vitamins and minerals

- avoid animal-based gelatin capsules

- dissolve easily in diluted acid (try diluted vinegar)

A wonderful resource for comparing the various supplement brands is They conduct tests on various supplements to verify ingredients, preservatives, and check for contaminants. The results from some of their tests are startling, as they have found many retail supplements that don't contain any of the nutrients they claim.

If you are seeking optimal health by adding nutritional supplements to your lifestyle, you will save yourself a lot of time, money, and frustration if you find yourself a qualified healthcare practitioner to guide you on your journey. Utilizing the right supplement to support the function of your body's physiology can have a profound effect on your health, while spending money on cheap imitators will only lead to frustration and disbelief in natural solutions to health issues.