So your health practitioner tells you to take a supplement, which brand? Another often asked question about supplements. And, this one is critical. All brands are not created equal. And cost isn’t an indicator of excellence. The FDA establishes current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) for industry-wide use that are necessary to require that dietary supplements are manufactured consistently as to identity, purity, strength and composition, but . . .
This graph is hard to read but it’s the correlation between price and percent of label claim of one particular supplement, chondroitin sulfate. Thirty two different brands were tested to see how close they were to their claims regarding potency. On the left is the labels claim for a 1200 mg dose. On the bottom is the price paid for the product. As you can see, price didn’t indicate a guarantee of proper product. The price of the product varied from 60 cents to over $4.00 and the actual potency ranged from zero to over 100%. This is a huge range! I’d be seriously upset if I purchased the almost $4.00 brand and found out it had less than 5% potency.
So, it is critical to know the quality of the brand you are purchasing. The professional supplement market – those that you can (mostly) only purchase from health care practitioners – is driven by quality products that produce results. The consumer market – what you can pick up at any store – is driven by price and marketing. It’s frequently more important to have a flashy ad campaign than to have quality products.
Yes, I have my favorites that I’ve found I can always rely on to provide the results I’m looking for with clients. But you can do your research too. Look for a company that has control of their raw materials rather than purchasing product from China. A company that has the finished product tested by a third party to ensure potency, disintegration, and/or dissolution. It doesn’t do you any good if it comes out later in the same pill form. They should have a testing laboratory to check for pathogens, heavy metals, and phytochemicals. They should have a quality control testing procedure, by a third party, from raw materials through production to the final product. The tableting base should be a high quality food based product rather than a filler. Unless you’re a vegan, a gelatin capsule base is best for absorption. Some vitamins and enzymes are best in an emulsified form for greatest absorption. Finally, products should be handled in isolation to prevent cross contamination.
It’s difficult some times to distinguish between science and marketing. Low estimates of supplement sales are estimated at 14 billion per year, high estimates state 55 billion. Either way, that’s a lot of companies trying to win your dollar. So, be cautious. If you don’t want to research and know the companies, then make sure you know the person selling them to you. Health professionals have years of extra training that the best companies recognize. With a few Internet exceptions that companies are trying to handle, you can’t get the best products over the counter. Just as these companies ensure the quality of their products, they ensure the quality of the people that recommend those products. Don’t be motivated by price and marketing, but by quality and results. Ask your health practitioner for a brand name or be tested with the supplement to guarantee it will work for you. Make sure every dollar you spend is truly going to improve your health . . . which the right supplements will do for you.