How Exactly Does One Go About Choosing Proper Supplements, Anyway?

By on 05/08/2014
Which Supplements are OK

I know I’ve snarked my fair share of supplements on this blog, but there are so many awesome ones out there as well.

So how do you sort the good supplements from the bad?

I finally took the time to sit down and make a real list of my process. How I choose what to buy and what to skip. Turns out, its only 8 easy steps!

I know that sounds corny, but read on, my fellow health-nut. You’ll see they are 8 easy, common sense based steps.

How to know if a supplement is actually a good buy or not:

Which Supplements are OK

1. Read the labels! The product name alone does not tell you what’s inside, and may be purposely misleading for the sake of marketing. You need to read the label to understand the ingredients inside. It is sad but true that companies are allowed to use names or descriptions of products without having the actual assumed ingredient in them (like selling guacamole with no avocado in it!).

2. Correct Dosage: Before buying, find out from a reputable source what dosage of the ingredient will have a therapeutic effect. For example, Green Coffee Thin contains 850mg of green coffee extract. 800mg is proven to have an active dosage, so 850mg is golden. On the other side, some brands are offering dosages of 1,200mg or more, but research shows that ingesting too much chlorogenic acid (an antioxidant in green coffee) may raise heart disease risk since it elevate levels of the amino acid, homocysteine. So again, it’s important to be sure the supplement/brand is offering a fair and balanced dosage based on science and not on marketing schemes or fads.

3. Ingredients: You may not easily absorb solid vitamin tablets that are derived from ground rock. So find out what other ingredients may need to be present for maximum absorption by your body. Another example of this is calcium absorption. Your body cannot just absorb calcium on its own. It needs to be a proper elemental calcium that your body can actually break down. Even more importantly, you need to have adequate vitamin D levels as well. Without it, most of the calcium you take is passed and not absorbed. Thus, a supplement that gives you both calcium and vitamin D in a dosage would be far more beneficial than just calcium.

4. Avoid: Artificial colors, flavors and excessive additives. Many premium grade supplements do contain fillers, which is fine. The key though is making sure there is nothing toxic. Fillers are added to change color or scent, add a coating, or to reduce costs of production. In addition to artificial colors (like anything ending in a number, ie: “red #40”) 3 of the worst fillers that should be avoided are: hydrogenated oils, magnesium stearate,  and titanium dioxide.

5. Buy from company’s that validate their claims with scientific references to research and clinical studies. A quick Google of the name of the study, lab, publication, or any other reference will tell you whether or not it is a legitimate study.

6. The old saying is often true… you do in general “get what you pay for” so don’t skimp on your budget for health supplements. You’re taking them for a reason and deserve to buy the very best. You still have to do your research though. Just because something is pricy doesn’t mean it is automatically the best possible supplement choice. Overpricing a crappy product is also just another marketing ploy to subliminally convince consumers that this product is clearly the best. But still, the cheapest option on the shelf is probably not the best either.

7. Caution: Seals of approval are not a good enough sign of a supplement’s overall quality. Rely on the credibility of the brand’s spokesperson rather than on a fancy quality assurance label. Many “organic” labels are actually very pointless and have minimal standards to be earned. Again, its marketing. Companies usually have to pay for these labels, or often time will just make one up. Research the brand. See if anyone known and trusted has endorsed it. If Oprah says it’s OK, then it probably is…

8. Check expiration dates – if a product doesn’t have one, don’t buy it. That basically means you are buying a supplement comprised of no natural, organic, active or helpful ingredients. Congratulations, you just bought compressed chalk.


The main point here is you need to find supplements that come from a reputable company that uses high quality, proven ingredients and nothing else. If the product can’t fall in line with the 8 checks above, that is usually a pretty strong indicator that it is not worth your money, and possibly may not even be safe.

About Anna

Hi there! This is my little blog project where I am trying to learn more about health, wellness and living a balanced life, while also sharing a bit of my silly side as well. By "silly" I mean sarcastic. And by "a bit" I mean way too much. Sorry about that.♥ - Anna

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