If you take supplements, you’ve probably noticed that the ones available at your doctor’s office are often pricier than those at the grocery or drugstore. But that’s not because your doctor is marking the price up, it’s because your doctor most likely only sells pharmaceutical-grade supplements. To be recognized as pharmaceutical-grade, supplements must:
- Contain high quality, pure ingredients, which are often expensive
- Meet exacting manufacturing standards
- Deliver precisely the quantity of active ingredients their labels promise
Meeting these criteria contributes to cost—you can’t cut corners and make a quality supplement.
According to a 2015 article in the New York Times, a test of supplements found that 80% of tested samples from four major retailers didn’t contain so much as a trace of the ingredients on the labels.
It’s important to recognize that there are a lot of bad actors out there―and a lot of ways to cheat consumers.
Many cheap supplements are simply shoddy products. They may contain mostly fillers and very little or none of the active ingredient shown on the label.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does allow a certain amount of filler in supplements. However, in some cases, cheap fillers aren’t named on the label and have no nutritional value, and you may get little benefit. At worst, they may be toxic or contain potential allergens like soy or wheat.
That’s why BodyLogicMD takes steps to ensure they are providing their customers with high quality, professional-grade supplements that meet rigorous testing and quality standards. Taking it a step further, BodyLogicMD takes the hassle out of searching for reliable and trustworthy supplements and offers easy and convenient ordering online at shop.bodylogicmd.com.
What Is a Dietary Supplement?
Federal law defines dietary supplements as “products that contain a dietary ingredient, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs or botanicals, as well as other substances that can be used to supplement the diet.”
Dietary supplements are available in many different forms and are most commonly found in tablets, liquids and capsules, but also in powders and energy bars. They can be found online and in stores throughout the US.
Dietary supplements include:
While marketing dietary supplements as a treatment, cure or as a means of symptom relief for a disease is illegal, many dietary supplements have clean safety histories. For example, millions of Americans responsibly consume multivitamins and experience no ill effects.
That’s not to say that dietary supplements only serve a limited purpose. Some supplements have been found to have numerous benefits for specific health conditions. For example, folic acid may reduce the risk of birth defects when used by women of childbearing age that may become pregnant.
How Do I Know I’m Getting What I’m Paying For?
It’s important to understand that not all dietary supplements are created equal. Dietary supplements do not need to be proven safe to meet the FDA’s satisfaction before marketed, according to federal law. The law doesn’t even require the manufacturer or seller to prove that the claim is factual or accurate before it appears on the product. The FDA does not even begin their investigation until after it enters the marketplace, which means a product that is not pure, has been adulterated, or is misbranded could cause health problems before it gets pulled from the shelves.
Furthermore, some supplement labels carry emblems featuring reassuring words like “verified,” “certified,” or “approved.” Because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate the production of dietary supplements, there are certain seals granted by organizations that certify products. US Pharmacopeia, NSF International, and ConsumerLab.com have been in the business of certifying supplements for many years. Their seal is reassurance the product contains the amount of the ingredient advertised on the label and that it isn’t contaminated with dangerous substances, such as arsenic, pesticides, bacteria, or lead.
The FDA recommends first and foremost that you consult with a healthcare professional before consuming a dietary supplement, even if you know you are getting a good product from a safe supplement brand, and to not self-diagnose any health condition. Many supplements contain ingredients that can have strong biological effects, and not all products are safe for everyone. People with certain health conditions can be putting themselves at risk if they take dietary supplements without consulting with a healthcare professional. It’s always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before taking a supplement to best determine how to achieve optimal health, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.
You can also reach out directly to a manufacturer and ask what kind of quality control measures are being taken to ensure you are getting the product you are paying for. And don’t be afraid to do some online research on your own to determine whether a dietary supplement is right for your needs. Some exceptional resources that are available from the federal Office of Dietary Supplements include:
- Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets
- Botanical Dietary Supplements
- Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Fact Sheets
- Dietary and Herbal Supplements
- Dietary Supplement Overview
- Herbs at a Glance
- Dietary Supplements
One of the best resources for making sure you are getting the product you are looking for is the National Institute of Health’s Dietary Supplement Label Database. It provides contact information for many manufacturers as well as ingredient and product databases.
If you want to do a deep dive into the efficacy of dietary supplements, the Nutrition Business Journal is an open access site with peer-reviewed studies. (Note: these are scientific reports and are not always reader-friendly).
If you don’t have the time or energy to plow through the scientific literature, BodyLogicMD provides an array of top-rated supplements and brands.
USP has a verified products listing that is a go-to source for people wondering which brands are the best, and NSF has a number of fact sheets that can help you find the right product for your lifestyle. Another great resource is LabDoor, which buys supplements from retail stores, tests them in chemistry labs, and publishes the results and expert reviews for free. LabDoor has a handy list that ranks tested products on a scale of 1 to 100 and is easy to search and read.
What Should I Ask When Researching a Product and Its Ingredients?
The FDA has a series of recommended questions you should ask a healthcare professional or a manufacturer before you buy supplements, whether from a brick-and-mortar store, a clinic, or an online retailer.
- What information is available to substantiate the claims made for the product?
- Is there information about tests that have been conducted on the safety or efficacy of the ingredients in the product?
- Does a manufacturer have quality control measures in place to ensure it is free of contaminants?
- Has the seller received any adverse events reports from consumers using their products?
- Where are the raw materials sourced from?
Another good question to ask when searching for high quality supplements is whether the supplier adheres to the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices. GMPs are a set of requirements and expectations by which dietary supplements must be manufactured, prepared, and stored to ensure quality. Manufacturers who adhere to good manufacturing practices are expected to guarantee the identity, purity, strength, and composition of their dietary supplements.
How Can High Quality Supplements Enhance Health and Wellbeing?
The best source of getting essential vitamins and minerals is a balanced diet. However, even where there is no lack of quality food, nutrient deficiencies occur.
US national surveys indicate that select micronutrient inadequacies are relatively widespread. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 93 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin E, 56 percent don’t get enough magnesium, 44 percent don’t get enough vitamin A, 31 percent don’t get enough vitamin C, 14 percent don’t get enough vitamin B6, and 12 percent don’t get enough zinc.
If you’re not getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients, you might find yourself putting on weight or you might not have the energy you need to keep up with your family or friends.
High quality supplements can help you address nutrient deficiencies in your diet, but it can be overwhelming to determine exactly what you need, what dosage you should consume, and where you should purchase your products.
It’s important to remember that while bold medicinal claims may seem enticing, many in the dietary supplement industry may seek to exploit your eagerness for natural solutions or your lack of knowledge about what supplements you might need and what they can do for you.
Before risking your money and health, it’s best to consult with a medical professional who is highly trained in how nutritional supplements can benefit health, such as a physician within the BodyLogicMD network who can discuss with you your lifestyle and your goals, such as losing weight or regaining vitality, and how a particular professional-grade supplement, exercise regime, diet, or hormone replacement therapy can help you achieve those goals.