According to the FDA, there are more than 29,000 different nutritional supplements on the market today. And, in the US alone over $28 billion a year is spent on herbs, vitamins, minerals, hormones, and other pills.

There are two main reasons we may choose to supplement.

To Cure: to make up for what we’re missing in our diet for healing
To Optimize: for prevention and to give ourselves and extra boost

Either way we are seeking to improve health and certainly not to hurt ourselves further.

Recently, The New York State Attorney General’s office revealed that the top-selling store brands of herbal supplements sold at GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart did not contain any of the herbs they had listed on their labels.

Instead, the pills were found to contain cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and wheat despite gluten-free claims.

If you’re feeling a bit hoodwinked right now, I’m with ya.

Naturally, we want to believe that the health industry including the pharmaceutical manufacturers and those that make herbal products are doing so with our best interests at heart.

But the honest truth is that not all companies are well… truthful.

That said, there are some companies that have built their brand on that very premise – doing right by their customers and delivering what they say they are delivering.

And, there are some companies that go even further to deliver supplementation in a way that is sustainable for the planet and the people that work for the companies too.

In my own life I use a few high-quality supplements and have done extensive research to select them.

I am very careful with recommendations for supplements for my clients and always aim for clients to be on as few supplements as possible and for the shortest time possible.

Are your supplements safe?

Five Steps to Choosing Supplements that Help, not Hurt:

1. Know the interactions and potential side effects. Especially if you are taking medications it’s important to fully understand any adverse effects of taking a supplement. For example, St John’s Wort is a well known supplement that commonly interferes with the metabolism of many important medications.

2. Read the Ingredients. Scan the product label for sweeteners, artificial flavor and dyes. If you find them listed it’s likely a sub-par product. Another quick way to scan for quality is to note the use of parentheses following each vitamin listed. For example Vitamin B12 should look something like this Vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin) or if you are looking at a food based supplement Vitamin B12 (from nutritional yeast). If the label does not tell you what form the vitamin is in, then you don’t know anything about the source or quality. If you see that the parenthesis are listed, you know the supplement company is taking it one step beyond the requirements of the DSHEA (The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act).

3. Are the Allergens Listed? Companies that care will mark that their product is free of common allergens that will not only make some people ill but also interfere with the healing process. But, as we’ve learned, don’t always trust the label because some companies write whatever they want just to make a sale.

4. Look for Seals of Approval. This is so important. Look for quality seals of approval beyond the usual good manufacturing practices (GMP). Some of the additional abbreviations you can look for include USP, TGA, NSF, EQP. For example, the USP stands for the US Pharmacopeial Convention. The USP label assures the consumer that the product meets a voluntary supplement verification process.

5. Check the Expiration Date. Products that have no printed expiration date or are expired should not be consumed.

These five steps will help you sort through the mass of heavily marketed supplements so you can ensure you’re choosing the highest quality in the supplements and vitamins you purchase.

Committed to your health,