Are you one of the 70+% of Americans taking a daily multivitamin or mineral supplement? You probably should be, as the USDA estimates half of Americans are not meeting the minimum recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for nutrients. Note that the RDA is a minimum, not optimal, guideline for health. I would recommend a high potency multivitamin and mineral formula for most people, but with caution and guidance. Unfortunately, there are an alarming number of poor quality supplements on the market that may do you more harm than good.
Here are 3 steps for choosing a quality supplement:
Advanced Lab Testing: A quality herbal or nutritional supplement should be lab tested for potency, purity and contaminants. In other words, the company should be able to prove, through multiple advanced lab testing, that the product has what it says it has, in the specified amount, without any bacteria, yeast, mold, aflatoxins, pesticide residues, PCBs, dioxins, heavy metals or residual solvents. The Good Manufacturing Processing (GMP) certification issued by the FDA is a basic safety requirement your supplement should have, but it is not good enough. A GMP certified supplement may still contain artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, cheap fillers and poor, inactive forms of nutrients. This leads us to step #2.
Quality Ingredients: Avoid hazardous artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. If your product contains aspartame, amino sweet, acesulfame k, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1 lake or ANY other artificial additive, THROW IT OUT IMMEDIATELY. I am convinced this is one of those things future generations will look back on and wonder why on earth we put unnecessary, poisonous additives in our food and supplements.
Look for active, easy to absorb forms of nutrients. For example, if your supplement contains calcium carbonate, cyanocobalamin or folic acid, THROW IT OUT IMMEDIATELY. Your multi should have usable calcium citrate or malate, not the cheap antacid form of carbonate. Your B12 should be in the form of methylcobalamin, not the synthetic, inactive cyanocobalamin. Finally, avoid folic acid. You should be taking folate in the form of methyltetrahydrofolate or folinic acid. Folic acid is not found in nature and may not always be converted to its active, usable form. This could lead to unintended side effects like cognitive decline and susceptibility to certain cancers.
Do NOT buy your supplements through amazon or any other online store front. Counterfeit supplements are rampant amongst online store fronts like amazon. These counterfeits have a vast network of ever-changing account names. If one account gets closed down, there are many others to use. Because the counterfeits are using fake ingredients, they are able to sell their products at a lower price with a much higher profit margin than the actual manufacturer. Consumers often give the fakes a 5 star rating for the low price! I have personally seen some of these knock-offs, and they look remarkably convincing. At best, you are swallowing a harmless, yet useless pill. At worst, you could consume a poisonous substance. Multiple people have been hospitalized because of this counterfeit activity. It’s not a joke. Your best bet is to draw on the expertise of a licensed naturopathic physician or functional medicine practitioner. Licensed NDs and functional medicine MDs work with reputable supplement companies who go above and beyond the common place safety guidelines and use the best ingredients available for optimal therapeutic effects. To find a licensed ND in your area, go to naturopathic.org and click on “Find a Doctor”.