Are Your Vitamins and Supplements Safe?
Which ingredients will help me reach my health goals?
Which formula is the best?
Which brand should I buy it from, to make sure it's safe and effective?
The supplement industry is plagued with confusion, controversy, incorrect labeling, harmful products, and false claims. Just last month, the FDA recalled more than 850 products due to cGMP violations. However, there are products available with science-backing, quality ingredients and manufacturing, and real benefit.
Here are four questions to guide your product search and ensure you - and your wallet - are safe!
1. What Do I Need and What Is The Right Dose for My Body?
We have all experienced it - a friend mentions a supplement that has changed their life and could change ours as well. The problem is that everyone has different needs, so what helps one person, may harm the next.
You must ask - do I actually need this product? And if I do, what is the correct dosage for me?
Licensed dietician / nutritionist, Caitlin Self, MS, CNS, LDN of www.frugalnutrition.com explains, “everyone is different, and the RDA guidelines are an average of both healthy and not optimally healthy people, so you may need significantly more of a certain nutrient than what the RDA states.”
How do you figure out what your needs are? Answer: Test Your Body!
“The best way to determine what your body specifically needs is a micronutrient test (blood levels) combined with a nutrigenomics (DNA) test. This information can be used to create a personalized supplement regimen,” Dr. Richard E Harris II, M.D., Pharm.D, Holistic physician, pharmacist, and founder of Great Health and Wellness.
Why DNA? After 10+ years of running a lab that specializes in biometric testing, literature review, and custom product formulation, we’ve found that, on average, if a person takes 20 nutrients (typical of a multivitamin); 1 is harmful, 2 have no effect, and the rest are incorrectly dosed. Which nutrient you need, and at what dose, all boils down to DNA.
If you add a lifestyle assessment and the results from blood and DNA testing, you are creating an even more customized supplement regimen for your body and meeting your specific needs.
Your dose does matter!
Many people believe that overdosing with supplements is fine, because there is an inherent belief that nutrients are “always good” and “the more, the better” and that you will simply urinate out the extra. However, this is not always the case.
It is critical to ensure you are not overdosing yourself with specific vitamins, as certain vitamins such as A, D, E, and K are likely to build up, explains Self. She also notes that depending on your liver and / or kidney function, “you might have a harder time getting rid of excess micronutrients such as iron and selenium, so you should use caution when supplementing these compounds.”
2. Is there Science?
Are the supplements actually doing what they say they will do, or is the brand simply great at marketing? Safe and effective supplements will have peer-reviewed research, done on humans, to back up their products. A simple search in PubMed should give you a decent indication into the amount of research on an ingredient. Just a few results with “mouse” or “rat” in the titles is not a good sign. If you’re not into reading research, Examine.com is an amazing tool to evaluate the effectiveness of an ingredient.
Dr. Harris emphasizes that “high quality companies post links to research that has been done about the products contained in the supplements.”
There are hundreds of nutrients backed by real research, we strongly suggest sticking with the “tried and true” instead of taking a gamble on the hot new herb extract from a tropical island with only rat studies to support it.
3. How and Where Are The Products Produced?
After you determine the supplements that are best for your body, the next step is to choose a safe and reputable brand. That choice starts with understanding the brand’s manufacturing and production processes.
Many supplement companies simply purchase from a third party manufacturer and have very little knowledge about their production processes. This is quite troubling as the production process is a majorkey to quality products. Find brands that use reputable and certified manufacturers who follow FDA current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).
Dr. Harris cautions, “the supplement industry is still the wild wild west unfortunately and consumers need to protect themselves. The most important thing to look for is cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practice).”
Third party testing and quality control is a critical part of the manufacturing process, as “quality supplement manufacturers will put their product through third party testing for purity and to test the dose”, explains registered dietitian, Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD, CDE of www.anareisdorf.com. Additional certifications and seals, like ISO 22000, cGMP, NSF Certified for Sport, are good indications of product quality, accurate labeling, and overall safety.
4. How Is the Product Sourced and Formulated?
Do you know who sources the ingredients for your supplements? Do you know who is developing the formulas? If not, find another brand.
Fitness coach and health writer at theworkoutdigest.com says for her, “the effectiveness of the product is going to be the #1 thing you look for when buying [a supplement].”
The effectiveness and safety of a product depends heavily on the quality, purity, and potency of included ingredients in addition to those ingredients being included at efficacious doses and alongside ingredients that work synergistically towards the desired outcome.
Rootine’s own Tye Jensen, who has worked in the production formulation space for nearly 10 years and says “95% of the time I avoid proprietary blends. When a label has a flashy heading on the nutrition panel, like Super Energy Blend - 660mg with only a total dosage displayed. You’ll find many ingredients listed below and this is a bad sign. You have no way of knowing the doses of each ingredient. Brands use this labeling method to overload the cheap ingredients and use tiny amounts of the expensive ingredients. It’s called fairy dusting.”
Proper formulation - typically by a health professional - also prevents contraindicated nutrients from being added to the same formula. For example, most pill-, powder- and capsule-based supplements should not contain zinc and calcium. This is because they both use the same uptake channels and since calcium is typically at a much higher dose, zinc absorption will be blocked.
Did you know? The majority of supplement companies do not manufacture their own products or even create the formulas for their products. The “private label” industry, where a select few manufacturers create generic formulas (i.e. “Joint Support”) with huge profit margins and apply the labels of recognizable brands, is absolutely booming. Next time you’re in the health store and you see products from multiple brands that all have the same or nearly the same formula, now you know why. We think health products should be designed to support your health, not boost the seller’s profit margin.
Confused? Rootine offers you a convenient, research-backed way to get exactly what you need.
Rootine analyzes your DNA, monitors your blood levels, and incorporates your lifestyle information into each daily vitamin pack, and our process is backed by over 300+ peer-reviewed research reports.
Rootine’s co-founder, Dr. Daniel Wallerstorfer is responsible for all of our sourcing and our production facility is state-of-the-art, ISO 9001, 15189, and 22000 certified and follows FDA cGMP
Plus, did you know that our revolutionary microbead technology allows for zinc and calcium to be administered at the same time? We use science to push the industry forward.