In an ideal world we would get all of our nutrients from our diet. But because our soil is depleted and we each have unique biochemical needs, supplements can be beneficial. I always like to review with clients their current supplements – what are they taking, how much, why are they taking each one, and the supplement quality.
Not all supplements are created equal and the quality control varies among supplement companies. For example, one of the supplement companies I recommend, batch tests every raw ingredient that goes into their supplements. When they received the raw material for one of their protein powders, and even though the amount of lead present is considered acceptable by the FDA, they refused the shipment because they don’t want any lead in their products. But guess what happens to that raw protein? It is sent back to the original source who then sells it to another company who has less stringent quality control and this raw material ends up in protein powders found on the shelves in the grocery store, big box stores or online venues with little to no regulation.
One consideration especially for online purchases, are they being stored in a temperature controlled warehouse before they are sold? If not, the quality may be compromised.
Which supplement is the best?
When reviewing supplements with clients, I like to look at the labels and educate them on some of the nuances so that when they are comparing supplements, they too can be a savvy label reader to determine which one is the best option.
Some of the things we discuss:
- How much is a serving?
- Are there unnecessary fillers?
- Are the B vitamins in the active form? Also, if anxiety is a concern the form of the active B12 is also important to consider.
- When looking at an omega 3 or fish oil supplement, the front of the bottle may indicate “1 gram of omega 3” but when looking at the combined amounts of EPA and DHA, does it add up to one gram, or is much less?
Are they working?
Often clients will ask, “how do we know if the supplements are working?” If we have added supplements due to symptoms that indicate deficiencies (e.g., zinc for loss of smell, magnesium for heart palpitations, elevated blood pressure or muscle twitching, etc.), one option is to watch for symptom improvement. But if you are wanting more specific information or quantitative data, we can also test. One of my favorite tests to run for clients is an intracellular micronutrient test. This helps us to determine if adequate nutrients from food and supplements, are being absorbed and utilized. Not only can it be helpful in determining if supplements are beneficial, but it can also help us connect the dots with current symptoms and challenges.