Are Supplements Necessary Or Optional?

Dietary supplements are designed to add or boost nutrients missing in the body. More than 75% of American adults take at least 1 supplement, such as a multivitamin. There are multiple reasons for the recent increase in supplement demand, such as poor diets, increased chronic diseases, and strong marketing. Now, supplements are seen as a necessity rather than an option. To get the most out of supplements, the goal is to choose the correct formulation. Seeking advice and guidance from experts like pharmacists can help.


Navigating a crowded supplement market

The supplement industry is highly saturated, with hundreds of brands and options available. There is also looser regulation compared to prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, so many brands have fillers or fail to provide potent products. Some supplement users are disappointed to discover that after spending hundreds of dollars yearly, the supplement lacks quality. Here are some expert tips for selecting the best supplements and effectively improving health.

Check with your doctor first

Visiting a doctor before purchasing supplements is important. If an individual feels a supplement is necessary, there may be an underlying health problem that should be addressed. For instance, finding the root cause of a symptom, like fatigue, can help pinpoint the best supplements to support the body. Doctors can also run necessary blood work to determine if the patient has a deficiency that requires supplementation. Consulting a pharmacist after a medical checkup can ensure the best supplement is selected. Pharmacists can recommend the appropriate dose and the most potent options.

Quality matters

Vitamins and supplements have varying degrees of quality and efficacy. Start by searching for long-standing brands with a strong reputation for quality and customer satisfaction. Reviewing testimonials and ratings while speaking with a pharmacist is essential. Seek out ingredients that are natural, ethically sourced, and have minimal preservatives or fillers. High-quality supplements prioritize transparency and will freely share information about the manufacturing process. Don’t hesitate to compare brands, even if the price is higher, as the priority is finding the right supplement for sustained health and wellness.

Get the party involved

Ignore the pretty packaging and look for labels with third-party testing and certifications. While not a requirement, some brands send supplement samples to independent laboratories for testing. The labs confirm the supplement is safe, effective, and meets quality standards. Once assessed, the supplement will be given a seal of approval from the group. Look for the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Standard and the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International to find high-quality options.

Form over function

While a supplement may be popular or cheaper, the product might not be suitable for an individual. Every person’s needs are different due to age, gender, and pre-existing health conditions. Lifestyle factors, like veganism, athletic performance, or pregnancy, can also affect the required vitamins and minerals. Supplements also impact people differently. For instance, some nutrients are better absorbed in liquid form. Any research on the best vitamins, minerals, or supplements should assess these factors. When in doubt, seek guidance from a pharmacist.

Look for interactions and side effects

Supplements often contain fillers, preservatives, dyes, and other compounds. While harmless in many cases, these additions may cause side effects for some individuals. To be supplement savvy means to understand the ingredients behind the bottle. The first ingredient on the list is often what’s contained the most in the product. Look for dyes and fillers at the top of the list. Be skeptical about any claims promising miraculous results. These claims are likely too good to be true and could be harmful.

Consider compounding

When in doubt, consider creating a custom supplement with compounding. A compounding pharmacist can create a custom solution by combining multiple base ingredients or supplements for a unique form. Compounding can also dictate the form and potency of the supplement. While more expensive than an OTC option, the quality, ingredients, and potency can be guaranteed. This type of supplement also works better as the user is more likely to adhere to the personalized pill.

Get supplement savvy today

Finding a supplement sounds easy. However, many options fail to provide the daily recommended dosage of vitamins or minerals. Look for high-quality bioavailable products that are independently tested. Ask a pharmacist to verify the ingredients and check for drug interactions or side effects. From there, choosing the right supplement is much easier.


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