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“How to Choose a Quality Supplement – PART 1” By Dr. Christa Hinchcliffe, ND of Bainbridge Naturopathic Clinic

August 08, 2016

“How to Choose a Quality Supplement – PART 1” By Dr. Christa Hinchcliffe, ND of Bainbridge Naturopathic Clinic So often patients inquire about which supplement companies are the best. This is a challenging question as the quality of dietary supplements is very important and can vary significantly between supplement lines. Supplement companies should adhere to strict evaluation criteria involving identity, purity, quality, strength, and composition. You should feel comfortable knowing the supplement company requires a strict evaluation process from start to finish so that the product is potent and effective. Raw material analysis, independent lab evaluation of the raw material, and finished product information is essential. The manufacturing process should not interfere with the final result, and therefore the ingredients must match what is listed on the label. The product must be evaluated for possible contaminants, such as heavy metals, pesticides and microbiological organisms. Even the packaging should be tested for contaminants. One way to ensure this process has taken place is to look for the ‘GMP’ or ‘NSF’ mark on supplement labels. ‘GMP’ (good manufacturing practices) is a certification program specific to the manufacturing of dietary supplements and dietary ingredients to ensure high quality products. Different organizations provide ‘GMP’ certification. For example, the National Sanitary Foundation (‘NSF’) oversees ‘GMP’ certification, enabling manufacturers to become independently registered by ‘NSF’ to meet ‘GMP’ requirements. An ‘NSF’ registered facility is audited twice yearly to inspect adherence to ‘GMP’. “This program is based upon comprehensive third-party inspections of the manufacturing facilities...and ensures that all elements of the manufacturing process are reviewed…so that products meet their established specification for quality, including identity, purity, strength and composition.“ Another mark to look for on the supplement label, besides ‘GMP’ and ‘NSF’, is ‘non-GMO’. I am a proponent of non-GMO foods, and I like my patients’ supplements to also be non-GMO. And if possible, the ingredients should be organic and sustainably harvested. If you do not see these specifications on the label, you can contact the supplement company to ask about their practices. The other important aspect of label reading is to look at the ‘other ingredients’. If you see any artificial colors or flavors, put the supplement back on the shelf. And definitely avoid all artificial sweeteners, such as NutraSweet, Equal, Aspartame, Sucralose and Splenda; they are not beneficial to the body and can even be harmful. I believe artificial ingredients are an indication of a poor quality product, and they are not necessary for the product to be effective. Also, avoid any added sugars, such as glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltodextrose, corn syrup, sucrose, and lactose. Sugar is already prevalent in our foods, and we do not need even more sugar in our supplements. On the other hand, sugar alcohols, such as Sorbitol and Xylitol, are okay but may cause abdominal bloating and/or diarrhea. The last ingredient to avoid is mineral oil; mineral oil is derived from petroleum and can prevent absorption of nutrients. Remember to check expiration and manufacturing dates. For example, oils should not be consumed past the expiration date as they can go rancid and cause more harm than good. Finally, be very careful about purchasing supplements on-line. Unless ordering directly from the manufacturer through the internet, you do not know where the product you are purchasing is actually coming from. I recommend visiting a store, for example Willowtree Market, which offers high quality product lines, including professional lines such as Designs For Health. Designs For Health follows the ‘GMP’ certification and uses non-GMO ingredients. Tune in next time for “How to Chose Quality Supplements – PART II”. I will discuss different forms of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, helping you to understand which are more bio-available by the body.