There are thousands of supplements on the market today all claiming to do something good for your body. How do you choose which supplements to buy? I'll just give you a few simple rules to hold any supplement up to so you can decide whether or not it's a good quality supplement.
1. Is it third party certified? There aren't many supplements out there that have a third party test their products. The 3rd party should test to make sure the ingredient label matches what is actually in the product. Nothing more. Nothing less. (If you think companies are probably generally honest when labelling their products, check out this article.) I prefer NSF certifications on my supplements but since their testing is so stringent, not everyone has NSF certification. Often NSF is used for "gluten free" certification only. The U.S. Anti-Doping Association has this to say about why they chose NSF for their 3rd party certification agency:
"USADA, in collaboration with the Uniformed Services University (under the Department of Defense), UFC, Major League Baseball (MLB), and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) put forth a consensus published by the American College for Sports Medicine on the essential criteria of third-party certification programs for drug tested athletes.
In brief, the program must have appropriate accreditations, be free from conflicts of interest, and must conduct testing for substances prohibited in sport. The NSF Certified for Sport® program currently meets the criteria set forth in the consensus statement. USADA recommends that athletes who choose to use supplements despite the risks can reduce this risk by using supplements that are NSF Certified for Sport®."
2. Will your body absorb the supplement? Any supplement with mostly chemically derived ingredients will not be absorbed well by your body. If you can find what you're looking for in a plant-based formula, that's your best bet. Your body knows how to handle food waaaaay more than it knows how to utilize isolated chemically based nutrients. Does your pee change colors after you've taken your supplement? That's a good indication that you're eliminating much of what you just tried to supplement.
3. Are there any studies on the product? This is another REALLY HARD standard to meet but it's the only way you KNOW that the supplement is going to do good things for your body. It'd be ideal to have studies directly on the product itself like pharmaceuticals have to study their medications but if that's nowhere to be found then attempt to find "borrowed research." Find somebody who has studied the name of the supplement you're taking. For example, if you're taking B vitamins but the specific brand of B vitamins you want to take haven't been given to humans and studied for absorption, side effects, benefits, etc. then find a study about B vitamin supplementation in general because...well, it's better than nothing.
If you find something that meets all three of these criteria you've struck gold. Hang on to that product because it's likely one of the best you'll ever find. They're out there but they aren't easy to locate.
Have any questions about the supplements you're taking? Or want to know what I take that meets all of the above criteria? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!