When we are busy we often just grab the most convenient food, even though we know it may not be the best option…we succumb to marketing and urges too. But what about supplements?
We are told we need them, our soils are deplete of certain minerals and vitamins so our food isn’t enough these days…but if we are just grabbing the most convenient supermarket / over the counter supplement, is that the best option, or are we just “peeing” away our hard earned money?

Due to limited regulation it is hard to determine what is a good supplement and a not so good one…health products are big business and the marketing is pretty slick these days right? Put the word “natural” on the label and it’s good for us right? Wrong! That’s why working with a practitioner can be helpful even if you are taking over the counter supplements, as with everything there are good and not so good over the counter brands.

Tips for choosing a good supplement

Look for:

  • Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP or GMP), these guideline are intended to ensure the company is following safe manufacturing practices. These cover 5 key areas: people, premises, processes, products & procedures (paperwork).
  • Third Party Testing. Products that are certified by a 3rd party gives us peace or mind that what they say is in the product is in the product and what isn’t in the product eg: toxins, heavy metals etc.
  • Is it backed by research? and when I say research I mean current research from evidence-based peer-reviewed sources…not just their own research! However I would expect a reputable company to have thoroughly tested their products.
  • Looking at the label is similar to food ingredients…the highest component of the supplement will be at the top of the list….if that first ingredient doesn’t have any actions pertaining to the supplements claims then walk away. Similarly if the active ingredient that is being advertised is further down the list it may not be the best option either if the therapeutic dose isn’t up to what it should be.
  • If it’s herbs…checking if the product lists the full botanical name of the herb and what part of the plant is being used… for example looking for something to help with stress? Ashwaganda is your go to…does it list the full name Withania somnifera and does it say it’s using the root as this is the active part of the plant, and again therapeutic dose is important.
  • Watch out for “proprietary blends”. These are usually a unique combination of ingredients from the manufacturer and sometimes they don’t list all the ingredients and how much of each is in the blend.
  • Sometimes a long list of ingredients can be a red flag…sometimes called “fairydust” a whole lot of small amounts of something can end up just being nothing.
  • Different doses are need for different things…for example a general dose of magnesium in a supplement may be 300mg but if you are wanting to get relief from migraine you may need a larger dose of 600mg (Braun & Cohen, 2015)
  • Watch out for a long list of excipients / fillers as these can cause irritation and reactions.

Confused yet?

Practitioner-only supplements

So this is where you’re trusty naturopath comes in! Yes we have access to practitioner-only products and you may think why can’t I just buy these products off the shelf?

  • Well often these products are specifically formulated at therapeutic doses that actually create change in the body so it’s important we get the treatment plan right and then the right product for you.
  • There also maybe interactions with medications or food and so this is taken into account.
  • Backed by evidence based research on not only ingredients but which forms of ingredients (eg: which form of magnesium is best for which condition). And which blends of herbs that work synergistically together.
  • Practitioner-only products are very focused on GMP, and sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients. Plus high quality biochemically active raw ingredients that are batch tested and 3rd party tested.
  • Also testing makes sure products are free of any contaminants such as heavy metals and have not gone rancid or oxidized. Often cheaper brands just don’t do this testing because it’s expensive.
  • Focused on training and education of practitioners rather than advertising so that we can then provide you with the most up to date and effective treatment plans.
  • Focused on efficacy.

Prescribed with the knowledge of a degree-qualified practitioner that knows how long to prescribe for and at what dose so you get the best result possible.

As a practitioner we also provide a holistic approach to your wellness…one supplement will not fix everything!

We are here to guide you with nutrition and lifestyle changes that will be more sustainable over time and therefore you may only need that high-quality supplement for a short time.

My Top 3 tips for Taking Supplements

  1. Set a reminder to take your supplements, they won’t help you by just sitting on the bench! A “days of the week” supplement box is a great idea.
  2. Take the recommended dose as per your practitioner, again if you are taking less then you won’t be getting the therapeutic benefits.
  3. Cycle your supplements. After 2-3 months on one supplement or supplements, consult with your practitioner to re-evaluate and maybe swap to a different form or brand.
  4. For more tips read my next Blog Post My Top 10 Tips for Taking Your Supplements

If you would like access to practitioner-only supplements and to get better results with your wellness with a holistic approach…book in for a FREE Discovery Call with me today!


Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@kaylamaurais?utm_source=squarespace&medium=referral

Written by Naturopath and Gut Health Specialist - Jane McClurg

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