Step 1: Location, location, location!
Supplements are a dime a dozen these days, and the first step in choosing a quality product is location. Try going to your local health food store that has a good reputation and a consultant or advisor who can help you navigate through the supplements they carry. Health food stores tend to carry higher quality supplements and have knowledgeable staff available to help you find what you need. Many naturopathic clinics also have a dispensary featuring high quality professional brands so you know you are getting the best quality for your money.
Step 2: Reading the label
Not all supplements are created equally, so the next step is to read the label on the bottle. As a general rule of thumb, I always tell my patients to choose a supplement in capsule, liquid or powder form instead of a tablet. First of all, absorption is much greater in these forms, therefore your body has a better chance of actually using and benefiting from all the medicinal ingredients listed. Supplements in a tablet form tend to lower absorption and have a lot more fillers and additives, which aren’t really necessary and might cause more harm than good. Secondly, if you are sensitive to specific foods (ie soy, wheat, dairy, yeast etc) be sure to check that the label has a disclaimer to the effect of “the product contains no soy, dairy, starch, wheat or yeast” or anything to which you might be sensitive. Lastly, look at the non-medicinal ingredients list – it should be short, and should not contain very much sugar or artificial sweeteners. Supplements should not taste like, or be equivalent to candy.
Step 3: Get the facts from a health professional
On a final note, please get trusted advice from a naturopathic doctor, nutritionist or health professional that is educated in the therapeutic dosage of any vitamin, mineral or medicinal ingredient you are taking. Many supplements on the market tend to have the “kitchen-sink” approach, but the ingredients may or may not be within therapeutic range. This minimizes the chance of getting the anticipated medicinal effects that they claim to produce. Also, please do not self-prescribe. As the saying goes, it is possible to have “too much of a good thing” when it comes to supplementation. There may also be interactions with current medications that have been prescribed to you.
I hope this guide has given you useful tips and advice in finding a good quality supplement for you!