Does it really make a difference which supplement brands you choose? Definitely!
Do you choose a supplement mostly by price? I did, but then I learned that all supplements are not created equal! So what’s wrong with buying the popular/advertised brands available in the grocery or drugstore?
The answer lies in the complicated business of how nutritional supplements are regulated (differently than medicines). You may have assumed that the bottle contains what it says on the label, but this is not actually guaranteed. However, certain few manufacturers go to the trouble of insuring the quality of their products – for example, Usana abides by a stricter standard in the purity of nutrients, cleanliness and integrity of the manufacturing process, and in its guarantees about what the supplement contains (potency, etc) up until the expiration date. If you want to know more about this, go to my Usana website and look up GMP’s and the difference between pharmaceutical-grade and food guidelines for manufacturing. The less strict GMP’s for food apply to nutritional supplements unless the company holds itself to a higher standard. Makers of supplements are not even required to test absorption rates of nutrients, which is an important factor in whether or not the supplement ingredients reach the intended target in your body. No wonder skeptics think that vitamins are a waste, literally. Even if a supplement dissolves at the proper rate to be utilized by your body, it may not be in a bioavailable form so it still gets wasted. For example, minerals can be very hard for your body to absorb, so the form of the nutrient matters.
I used to go to the store and compare labels looking for the most potent ingredients for my money. I spent a long time reading the labels and then choosing the cheapest bottle that contained the most of certain ingredients. Is this cost effective? I thought so, but I didn’t understand about the importance of synergy and how co-factors affect absorption too. More importantly, is that how you want to approach your health – low cost regardless of quality?
Then there’s the issue of balance. In the past, I searched for individual ingredients in separate bottles – partly because I couldn’t get the right combination that I was seeking in one bottle, but more because I thought I knew better what I needed. While it’s important to become your own health advocate, there is much to learn. Experts now recommend taking broad-spectrum vitamins (including high-potency antioxidants to fight free radicals) and broad-spectrum minerals. It’s also important that these supplements be scientifically formulated and synergistically balanced. This is not accomplished by picking and choosing certain ingredients! Do you really want to get more for your money? High quality supplements, such as those made by Usana, are formulated for greater bioavailability than cheaper mass-produced vitamins/minerals. This is because they are science-based and employ better manufacturing processes. Look for USP standards that are used by reputable companies when comparing supplements.
As Dr. Ladd McNamara says, “Nutritional supplements are a science, and the manufacturing of these supplements must be approached that way. This makes all the difference in how the supplements affect your body and cells; the difference between “wasting your money” and TRUE HEALTH!”
Quality manufacturers are few, so here just a few things to look for from your supplement brand, according to Ladd McNamara, MD:
“Pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing (vs. food-grade): Most supplements are made to the standards that apply to your pizza: “as long as it doesn’t hurt you, it is safe for consumption.” Pharmaceutical-grade GMP (good manufacturing practices) is a standardized process that ensures the quality of the supplements. This can be verified by third parties (see next section).
U.S. Pharmocopeia: Make sure the supplement manufacturer adheres to the U.S. Pharmocopeia Standards of Production, that includes dissolution. If the products cannot dissolve in a timely manner within your stomach they cannot effectively be absorbed.
100% Potency Guaranteed: It is shocking the number of brands (name brands) that do not contain the amount of ingredients stated on the bottle. Studies from Yale New Haven Hospital and Tufts University Hospital have shown that many brands not only contain less than the stated amount of ingredients (from 50% of the listed ingredients, down to 0% in some cases), they are also made with the wrong ratios of vitamins and minerals to each other, and are missing some ingredients altogether. Always look for the guarantee of potency.
Athlete Guarantee: Most Olympic and professional athletes will not take ANYTHING, let alone supplements, out of fear of being disqualified for banned substances. The brand that we use and recommend carries a one million dollar guarantee that no banned substances could ever be traced back to their products. Many Olympic and professional athletes are using our products with confidence, and experiencing noticeable differences in their performances.
Third-Party Verfication: (see next section).
Safety: Iron can accumulate in the body and cause heart and liver damage, let alone death. Health care providers should monitor iron levels and make recommendations. One should never take iron without the supervision of their health care provider. Vitamin A can be toxic at higher levels (to the liver) as well as cause birth defects. Beta carotene is the preferred “pro-vitamin A” supplement, as the body converts beta carotene into vitamin A as the body requires. These are just two of many supplement facts that quality manufacturers take into account.
Who is manufacturing the products? Does the supplier (the distributor) manufacture their own products, or does some huge conglomerate manufacture brand X one day, brand Y another, and brand Z on yet another day? If the distributor/supplier does not manufacture their own products it is very difficult to maintain quality control (from ingredients to end product distribution).
Quality Ingredients: Manufacturers of supplements buy their ingredients from suppliers. Not all suppliers are the same. Most brands provide ingredients of low quality, low potency, and low purity. This is very inexpensive, and many manufactures prefer the inexpensive ingredients because they can put their products on the shelf at a low cost and still maintain a high profit margin. Quality vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant ingredients come with certificates of analysis, and are certified to be potent and pure. If you don’t start with quality ingredients you cannot end up with a quality end product.” (http://www.totalwellnessnetwork.com/nutritional-supplementation.html#3)
The good news is that Usana Health Sciences meets all of these (above) criteria! Check it out – click on the link to the right or contact me. Usana’s prices are surprisingly affordable – partly due to efficient marketing and distribution methods, as well as the founder’s values and commitment to health.