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Read this before you buy your next supplement!


We all know that there is a vast array of supplements on the market today. It seems that new ones are launched every day and there is more and more marketing lingo that promises to improve or safeguard your health.

It’s easy to understand why you might not know which supplement to buy, but you still need to make sure you're making the best health (and most economic) choice.

Remember, if you are ever unsure about a supplement, consult your doctor or healthcare provider, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It’s probably wise for everyone to consult their doctor or pharmacist before taking anything new, even if there is nothing on the label to contraindicate use.

Here are eight other expert tips that might help you when choosing your next supplement:


Tip 1: Look for well-known brands from reliable and trusted sources.

Why?

This is your health, and it’s important to make sure you’re getting a product that is safe. Therefore, it may be best to trust only a select few well-known supplement brand names that are offered by reputable companies. Don’t assume that any supplement or vitamin you see on the shelf is safe. There are sometimes recalls and safety alerts issued for supplements containing dangerous ingredients or that are contaminated, or for products that don’t even contain or do what they say they do.

How?

If you have to look up the company or product online or call them, do it – don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions before you buy any product! A good rule of thumb is also to make sure that the address or phone number of the company is in your country, otherwise, if something goes wrong, it’s usually not possible for anything to be done about it. Most reputable companies have a toll-free number on the bottle, or at the very least their website address that you can contact. Sometimes, you can use QR codes on packaging to go to the website address.


Tip #2: Read (and heed) the warnings, cautions and contraindications on the packaging and label.

Why?

You don't want a bad reaction and you want to make sure the product is safe for you to take.

How?

Check the label for things like:

Side-effects.
Not suitable for specific groups of people, such as young children or pregnant and breastfeeding women. The label will probably say something like, “Consult a healthcare practitioner if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.”
Not suitable if you have certain medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure, auto-immune disease, diabetes, peptic ulcers, etc.).
Not suitable if you are taking certain medications (e.g. blood thinners, like aspirin).
Not suitable if you are taking other supplements.
If you shouldn't take it for more than a certain length of time (e.g. you cannot take the supplement for more than a few weeks at a time).


Tip #3: Look at the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients.

Why?

You want to make sure there is nothing dangerous or anything you are allergic to, or could react badly to, in the supplement. Even if you've used a product before, check it each time you buy it as manufacturers may make changes to ingredients from time to time.

How?

Any credible supplement company will list every active ingredient, as well as the inactive ingredients, on the supplement packaging and/or the information leaflet. The print may be small, but it is important!

If the information isn’t there, don’t buy the product.

PRO TIP: Not sure what an ingredient is or what it does, search it online or contact the company for more information.


Tip #4: Read the labelled “Indications” or “Uses”.

Why?

You want to make sure the product benefits you in the way you want. What is the company claiming that their product can help you with? Beware of people who tell you that this product can help you beyond what’s on the label or known in modern science – if it sounds outlandish, it probably is.

How?

Beware of over-promising of “miracle” products. You may also want to stay away from supplements intended for weight-loss and sexual enhancement, as these products are very often not backed by science. If unsure about the validity of any claims, ask the manufacturer to provide the scientific evidence behind the indicated benefit.


Tip #5: Pay attention to the dosage.

Why?

Just like with any medication, supplements should be used as per the indicated dosage to ensure efficacy. You should not blindly use supplements if you want to get positive results. This is important to keep in mind because you will probably need to take several capsules/tablets consistently over a long period of time in order to get the recommended dose to achieve the intended effects.

How?

The label should mention this loud and clear, along with how many doses (and in what form, like capsules/tablets, powder or liquids) are in each bottle. Read carefully: what dosage (how many tablets/capsules) are the instructions on the label information based on? One capsule, two...maybe six? The amounts of each nutrient listed on the label may be based on each dose, or the entire daily dose. For example, if a label recommends that you take two capsules per day, the active ingredient amounts listed may be the total amount in those two capsules, unless it says, "per 1 capsule".


Tip #6: Check the storage requirements and expiry date.

Why?

These two go hand-in-hand because the expiry date is based on how that supplement degrades over time in certain environmental conditions like temperatures, humidity and light exposure.

How?

For example, if the bottle says that it should be refrigerated, make sure it’s in the fridge at the store, or shipped in a refrigerated truck. If it says to refrigerate after opening, then make sure once that seal is broken, you keep it in your fridge.

If it says to keep out of sunlight, then make sure that the store/shipping company is doing that on the shelves or during delivery. You must do so then too. This is sometimes why supplements are in dark or opaque bottles – to prevent sunlight from degrading it before the expiry date.

And of course, don’t use supplements past their expiry date. After this date the manufacturer does not guarantee the quality or dose of the product.


Tip #7: Read reviews.

Why?

Buy supplements based on facts and experience, not on marketing or “endorsements” by paid influencers. A lot of supplement manufacturers may find ways to manipulate you into buying their products just to make sales.

How?

Don’t fall for marketing gambits that you could easily regret later. Go for reputable suppliers whose name you trust. You can choose to check for consumer reviews and see what other customers have to say about the product online. If most of the comments are positive, then you can proceed to buy.


Tip #8: Consider Price.

Why?

You should not spend your money on something that adds no value to your health or is more expensive than equivalent brands that do the same thing. You should judge any value you think you will get from the product as more or equal to the cost of the product. In this way, you ensure that you are getting the best quality.

How?

When shopping around for your supplements, compare prices between brands. Some companies produce generic supplements which cost less but may be just as effective.
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