Just like with every product out on the market – it is difficult to know exactly which is the most beneficial, and which will do the most harm on the body. Do not judge a book by its cover. Just because a bottle reads “Fish Oil” and is the most cost effective selection of the thousands of options out there does not make it the best choice for you. Before you decide to purchase whatever supplement it is that you are interested in, this blog will help you ensure that you are choosing not only the correct product, but the most quality vitamin that will fit your needs.
1. Understand what your needs are before choosing a supplement.
It is important to assess exactly what you need to take the supplement for, and use those key words as part of your search when looking for the right one for you. If your healthcare provider or nutritionist has recommended something to you – make sure you know what dosages, purities and forms you are looking for first before making your decision.
2. Read the entire label.
Are you gluten free? Are you vegan? Do you have any other sort of allergies of concern? Some products contain these allergens and products that would not be suitable for you and more often an item will specify gluten free or certified vegan if it is. Sometimes you will need to check the bottom or the other side of the box to find additional information (i.e. expiration date, contact information, etc.)
3. Take the suggested serving size.
Each reputable product should have a serving size listed on the label, similar to a food item you purchase. Just like buying shoes – you want to make sure that the supplement you choose fits. The FDA has done extensive research on how much our body needs on a daily basis (Percent Daily Value or PDA) so any more than what is recommended by either the FDA or your health care professional could have the opposite effect of what you are intending to take the supplement for.
4. Follow the storage instructions.
Most supplements will recommend that you store your supplements in a cool dry place for best use, and to store them in their original packaging. It is very important to pay attention to expiration dates as well, to ensure that you are not ingesting an expired product.
5. Know your abbreviations.
Dosage amounts are very important. You don’t want to purchase a product with micrograms when your health care provider recommended milligrams, or you will end up taking a lot more volume than necessary, and spending a great deal of extra money to get the amount your body needs.
Some Frequently used abbreviations:
Microgram (mcg) = 1/1000 milligram MG
IU = International Unit
MFG = manufacturer
DV = Daily Value
6. Can you contact the manufacturer?
If the answer is no, do not purchase the product. By law the manufacturer is required to provide contact information in order for consumers to contact them to ask questions. Typically you will find a toll free phone number and a website on the bottle or packaging.
Below is an example of a supplement label. I have pointed out some of the important things to pay attention to that should come standard on all supplements.