Choosing The Right Supplements
The supplement industry
On the low end, the supplement industry is reported to be valued over 30 Billion dollars in the U.S. and is growing every year. More than any time in history the general public now has access to information much more readily available than any time in the past. This has brought about a greater awareness to individual health, fitness, and nutritional needs and led to a surge in supplement and nutraceutical sales. This increase of awareness and focus on preventive care is exteremely positive but the ease of access and lack of regulation in the supplement industry also attracts those who may not have your health and safety as their top priority.
As more and more people try to make a quick buck selling supplements and in many instances "snake oil". It becomes more important to support high quality providers. As a consumer in an industry that does not have an overlying regulating body it is important to not only know what supplements are appropriate and beneficial for you but also understand what factors determine a "quality" supplement from a potentially harmful one.
It is difficult to differentiate between supplement companies that are truly authentic and have your best interests in mind and those that claim to. Some of the most well known and widely read fitness magazines are owned by businesses that also own supplement companies. Many of these magazines are distributed under the guise of a publication that has your best interest in mind but many are created just to market their products.
Have ever had your attention grabbed by a "terrific" headline on the latest fitness magazine?
"The Top Secrets to Get Abs You've Never Heard of!"
"How [Celebrity], Got Fit For The Latest Action Movie!"
"The Best Program To Melt Fat 2 Weeks Before Summer!"
You probably knew that the headline seemed too good to be true, but you had to check out the article just to confirm. Just turning the pages to find the article you flip through a dozen supplement ads. When you start to read the article they usually continue to entice you and repeat the headline a few different ways. As you get three quarters through the article you realize that nothing of real substance has been said and as the article winds down you realize the claims are associated with certain supplements they start describing are strictly for promotional use and the article does not claim to provide any beneficial advice. Such articles can be hard to recognize if you are not aware. Not all of the information is garbage. There are a few fitness professionals that contribute some quality information mixed throughout the magazine but they are they are there to advanced there career not get you in shape in three weeks, so be aware.
Not a hard an fast rule but one of the best ways to identify quality companies is to simply read their mission statement, visit their website, and look at their leadership. Most high quality companies focus on the promotion of health, safety, and sustainability before all else. Looking at a companies website you can learn a lot. High quality companies provide extensive information and are fully transparent. Companies you should be skeptical of are those that have the their stock ticker on the front page on their website. If they make outrageous claims of fat loss, muscle gain, or performance. If they do not at the very least provide nutrition or ingredient information about their supplements. If their website is 90% half naked models
Only the most preeminent supplement providers partner with professional, collegiate, and Olympic athletes.
These athletes and organizations are extremely careful about who they partner with. They need to be extremely cautious about supplements they consume and companies they advocate for. Many high level athletes are prohibited to use certain substances or may be under the regulation and sanctions of World Athletic Doping Association (W.A.D.A.) which has an extensive list of banned substances. With high dollar contracts and sponsorships on the line there are only a few trusted companies that are used regularly at this high level.
High quality supplement companies and suppliers are transparent about how they source the raw materials and ingredients use in their supplements. These companies make safety their priority. You should be skeptical of companies that do not want to reveal the source of their ingredients and hide behind proprietary blends on their labels. In order for a supplement to have the greatest impact it first needs to be able to absorbed and/or digested by the body and that begins with pure high quality ingredients.
Many supplement companies make claims about testing and studies done to their supplements but the validity of those studies should be looked at closer. In many cases, with some further research, you can discover that the data if often skewed in one direction in order to promote the outcome or result the company set out to prove. Obviously low quality companies are not publishing any of the results they did not set out to prove in the first place.
A high quality company will have multiple phases of testing.
Developing supplements based on scientific based ingredients that have proven benefits.
Sourcing ingredients from high quality and sustainable areas.
Testing the raw materials to ensure they are pure and free from harmful contaminants
Testing to ensure all stages of the processing and manufacturing are free of contamination and remain free of other ingredients
Testing to make sure ingredients are distributed evenly and consistent throughout the supplements
Test to ensure production does not harm the integrity or potency of ingredients
Testing to check that supplements perform as intended after production and distribution
Although some companies provide high quality in house testing, it is important that they are also tested by a trusted third party.
It is difficult to sift through all of the information and marketing around nutritional supplements. Trusted certifications allow you to confidently chose supplements without having to worry if you are getting what the label claims. That piece of mind is priceless when it comes to your health and safety.
Trusted Third Party Testing
Supplement manufacturers can acquire unbiased third-party certifications. Certifications do not certify that the claims made or the efficacy of the supplement is proven. Certifications can ensure that the ingredients and dosages listed are reliable, they can determine if the supplements are free of contaminates and/or illegal substances and also ensure quality of the manufacturing process.
A few of the most highly respected and trusted certifications:
THORNE RESEARCH SUPPLEMENTS