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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lee Aberle, ND, IFMCP

8 tips for choosing a good supplement

Supplements are available everywhere these days and online marketing has cranked them up to be available everywhere. At Edgewater we work hard to make sure that what is on our shelves and available to order We have literally thousands of high quality products that we can get for you on short notice and all of them have been vetted by us for safety and efficacy (a fancy word that means that they work well).

But how can you choose a quality and safe supplement that is right for you ? What do you do if you don't have Edgewater there to help you out? Here are our 8 tips for choosing your next supplement:

Relevant to your condition

First and foremost you want to make sure you are taking something that is addressing your health concerns. For instance, you have osteoporosis, a medical provider may recommend calcium and vitamin D. Or if you are working on better heart health, your plan might include omega-3s. Seeking out the advice of someone familiar with the use of nutritional supplements can help in this department. Don’t only rely on Dr. Google, as not all of the information found on the web is reliable. Choose a source of information that isn't only interested in selling to you.

Backed by science

When choosing a supplement company, it’s important to be selective and work with one you trust. Ask if they have any research on the actual product to back their claims, and then look over the research to see the results. Look for evidence about how well the product works in scientific studies from credible institutions. Search for such studies in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) PubMed database.

Rigorous scientific analysis should also be part of the product’s manufacturing. What type of testing do they do on their products? For example, if you are buying a EPA / DHA product (fish oils or similar products), we recommend asking them for an "independent, 3rd party assay of purity." What that means is that someone else comes into their facility randomly and picks a random bottle of products to check out at a lab. This ensures that what you are getting is safe from heavy metal concentrations and that what is on their label is in your bottle.

Respectable company

Do your research and make sure that the company is reputable and that it operates with integrity. Look up to see if there have ever been any product recalls, lawsuits or import detentions. Are they using GMP or cGMP standards? Do they do batch testing? These answers to these questions will tell you if a company can be trusted. Some of our favorite companies are almost exclusively physician only such as Xymogen, OrthoMolecular, NutriDyn, Metagenics, Pure Encapsulations, Biopure. Our list of companies that we have vetted for you includes about 150 different companies from around the world.

Safe Ingredients

The sourcing of supplement ingredients is a factor to be mindful of when choosing supplements. Do they come from a non-toxic environment? Are they sourced ethically? Are there testing standards in place for proper identification of the ingredients?

A product manufactured under poor quality conditions may contain toxic substances that have been unintentionally added. A product that is adulterated or diluted of the proclaimed ingredients will not have the same outcomes.

Check for good labeling practices, which means transparency in listing ingredients. Does the company reveal all of their ingredients or do they hide behind ”proprietary blends?” The use of Proprietary blends is a red flag. It doesn't mean it is bad as there are many companies that use this label, especially essential oil companies, but it does raise concerns if you are using any of these products for your health. For Example, If you need a certain dose of Vitamin D in your diet, and the product you take calls it's ingredients proprietary, how much are you taking? How can you know?

GMP: Check how it is made

When you see the GMP or cGMP label on a supplement, you can be assured that identity, purity, quality, strength and the makeup of ingredients has been verified. The manufacturing standards make sure the product that you buy is what it says it is, and is a safe and effective product.

Manufacturers who follow GMP or cGMP guidelines have checks and balances in place to assure a safe product, without adulterants. The facilities and employees have to meet certain minimal standards that protect the safety of consumers. When you see a GMP seal, you can sleep more soundly. For more information on this go to this link

Quality & Safety: Check where its made

Quality and safety are huge factors to consider. Be wary of supplements made outside the United States, Canada and Europe. These countries have regulations and high standards of manufacturing. When you see a made in the USA label, you can feel good that you are working with a product that lives up to high standards.

Many other countries aren’t regulated. Products made in Indian, China and Mexico have been shown to contain adulterants. Some products made in other countries may have toxic ingredients. You want to know what you’re getting.

And please be aware that counterfeiting is a huge problem for supplements and prescriptions, especially online. Recent studies have shown that supplements and prescriptions purchased online are counterfeit about 20% of the time, with an additional 30% being modified in some way, the most common way being a change in the expiration date. For more go to this link or this link.

We can guarantee that what you purchase from us is 100% legit. Period.

Realistic results

Unfortunately, the supplement field is full of fraud. If a product claims it will cure a disease, be on guard. Any supplement that sounds too good to be true likely is.

Buyer beware is the rule in the supplement world. Checking the reputation and the results of research on the product will help guide your decisions.

Our bottom line is this. If you take something for your health, you should feel different, either better or worse. But it shouldn't do nothing. And while some supplements take a while for your to notice a change, you will notice it. An example are supplements to modify neurotransmitter balances so that you can sleep better or modify your anxiety levels which can take a few weeks to change. No change means you are wasting your money.

Side effects and other risks

What risks may you be taking by adding a supplement to your regimen? Has research shown the product to be one that is safe. Are there possible interactions with other drugs or supplements that you are taking? What type of side effects can you anticipate from the product?

When taking a supplement, you want the side effects to be positive, not negative. See if the research that has been conducted to show potential side effects. If your immune system is compromised, you certainly want to make sure you’re not including a product that may affect your health negatively.

Look for the label to state inactive and active ingredients. You want to know what you’re putting into your body. While the active ingredients are what assists you to your health goals, inactive ingredients should be made of benign ingredients and not contain adulterants.

There is testing that our clinic does that can help you find out about which supplements will work best for you - MyOrigin Genetic testing, which drugs will work best for you - OneOme Genetic testing, and which nutrients you may be lacking or needing more of - MicroNutrient testing. The good thing about these tests is that the prices are coming down drastically. If you are interested please talk to one of our doctors.

Dr. Lee Aberle,

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