Does a dietary supplement really work? How can you differentiate the fact from the “myth”? With the overwhelming numbers and variety of dietary supplements in the current market, you are led to believe what you take is what you really need without a second thought.
As I mentioned in my previous video, choosing a whole food diet will provide you with the best variety of nutrients. And a whole food diet combined with a dietary supplement is your optimal approach to ensure you’re getting well-balanced nutrition. However, the dietary supplement industry has promised beyond nutrition such as weight loss, hair growth, skin whitening, hormone balance and so on.
The idea of having a magic pill that can fix all your problems is very tempting, especially with the marketing headlines such as “guaranteed results, lose weight or money back”. This easily led you to trust there’s nothing to lose, why not give it a try. Nevertheless, you only have one body. It is always worthwhile to rationalize what the ingredients are inside the bottle before you act.
So, here comes the question. How can you choose a safe and reliable dietary supplement that will really help you to achieve what you expect? There are at least six steps:
- Be aware of proprietary blends! This is a collection of ingredients where the product normally provides the total amount of the blends by weight and the list of ingredients, however, no precise amount of individual ingredients is provided on the label. To make matters worse, some proprietary blends contain another proprietary blend, which is “a blend within a blend!” In this case, you don’t have a control on how much of each active ingredient you are taking per serving. Is the amount inside the blends really what you need? Too much or too little? You don’t know it. Often, the proprietary blends were given a special name such as a “blend,” “complex,” “matrix,” or “proprietary formula”.
- The products must be compliant with the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). That means the manufacturing process is well overseen and controlled to maintain the quality of product. You often can see the mark of “GMP qualified” on the label. This is the minimum effort from a company to ensure good quality.
- Does the product you take have been through the human clinical trials to substantiate their claims? Some claims of the supplements in the market are only supported by in-vitro data (using cell culture) or in-vivo studies (using mice experiments). Nevertheless, the mice studies do not necessarily translate to humans. To be said, you can only rely on the products that are backed with human clinical trials.
- Choose the companies with a well-organized website and transparency regarding the products. Also, customer service is provided to efficiently answer your questions.
- Check the dose of the active ingredient on the label. Often companies will decrease the dose of the active ingredient to make it more profitable or increase the dose to make their products more attractive as a marketing strategy. In both cases, you will be affected, either having an ineffective product or a risk of getting intoxicated. To ensure the safety and effectiveness, a human clinical trial will help you to clarify how much is the ideal dose to take.
- Check the purity. The only way to know what’s inside dietary supplement products is through laboratory testing including evaluation of active ingredient purity, heavy metal, and microbiologic analyses. Often, it’s called a “Certificate of Analysis” (CoA). Therefore, looking for a third-party testing certification is essential to ensure the quality of the product.
You cannot choose a dietary supplement like choosing a shoe. That’s something you take into your body. Don’t be fooled by the appearance of the bottle, fancy label, or brand. What is inside the products is what really matters. Don’t leave important steps of checking the veracity and quality of your dietary supplement to somebody else.
Remember, your health is on the line and you need to know if what you are taking is what you are looking for.