Lifestyle: Supplements

Are you confused regarding the advocation of supplements in place of food nutrients and how it fits into a wellness program of Functional and Lifestyle Medicine?

Our bodies are designed with necessary processes (ie. digestion and absorption) in extracting from foods the essential nutrients our bodies require to function properly. For many people, food derived nutrients ingested is below their functional nutrient needs. This is due to depleted soil nutrients from over farming and modern agricultural practices, poor nutritional habits, poor food quality, digestion insufficiency, nutrigenetics or an increased need for particular nutrients not derived from a healthy diet.

Augmented lifestyle therapies, such as proper and adequate supplementation, when deficient in certain nutrients, is critical for optimal functioning.

There are many research studies cited over the past 50 years that demonstrate how augmentation via supplementation of isolated or combinations of nutrients have been remarkably helpful to overall health in developed countries. This is even only if to compensate for depleted nutritional density from modern agricultural practices and industrialized food supply. Nutritional supplementation has also alleviated nutritional deficiencies and saved lives of those in underdeveloped areas of the world.

There are so many supplement companies and we know that there are many inferior companies. Quality, actual ingredients, fillers, therapeutic effect – This is all so confusing. When selecting a supplement and company here is my top 10 list to inquire regarding the supplement company and product selection.

Top 10 List When Picking A Supplement Company

1) Look For Quality Assurance

Choose a product with cGMP. Good Manufacturing Practices facility ensures the supplement contains what the bottle states.

2) Product & Ingredient Disclosures

Availability and full disclosure of raw material vendor Certificate of Analysis (C of As). This results in independent testing to confirm finished product testing results.

3) Certificate of Analysis & Raw Material Testing

Independent testing to ensure ingredients are deemed to be contaminant-free.

4) Eval For Transparent Labeling

Chose a company that has clear labeling and avoids terms like “propriety formulas”, has transparency with any binder or coatings, clearly identifies ingredient label on website, and lists any contraindication.

5) Look For Research Studies

Have the ingredient been clinically proven to support the health benefit? Some claims are made based on the company’s own unique formulation. Clinical studies are done on people not test tubes or rats. Clinical trials are performed by third-party research facilities.

6) Cost vs Value

Evaluate a company that conducts research and development on safe and effective products. With anything you purchase, there is a range of inferior products to mediocre to exceptional. Skip bottom of the barrel and the extremely expensive supplements. With that said, look for a middle of the road cost. Pay attention to cost per day rather than cost per bottle.

7) Standardized Herbal Extracts vs Whole Herbs

Look for whole herbs or full spectrum extracts. This means the manufacturer has made an overall extract from the plant. This includes the whole spectrum which you benefit from the synergistic effect of the herb. This also avoids potential side effects.

8) Company Reputation

Purchasing decisions come down to trust. If the company has the respect from health care professionals and peers you are on the right track. If the company has loyal customers and a great customer service department these are other important considerations.

9) Educate Yourself

Look at the companies website. You can learn a lot regarding the company by visiting the site. What’s your first impression? Is it professional and not hyped? Read the about us page. What are the credentials? Are there scientist, researchers, doctors, or herbalist on the board? Is a physical location listed?

10) Be Holistically Minded

Don’t think, “ I have this symptom and what supplement should I take to remove it”. Consider thinking, “I have this symptom, how can I optimize every body system to remove the underlying cause to feel better.”