supplement quality | Integrative functional medicine blog

How to pick good quality supplements




How to know if you are getting good quality supplements


The United States enjoys liberal access to nutritional supplements. This can be a good thing and a bad thing.

Some would say we are a little too lenient. But, As long as you are educated on how to pick good products, I say it’s a good thing. In my humble opinion, big pharma and the government often overreach when it comes to certain things. Such as when big pharma can’t make money off of supplements and try to shut them down because of competition.

As an example, do a little research on Red yeast rice or Kratom, and most recently the use of Intravenous vitamin C, which the FDA just banned. Thank you very much!

We can buy virtually any supplement from multiple sources either at the local grocery store or online. Other countries can be more stringent when it comes to access and don’t enjoy near the wide range of variety.

However, the freedom around nutritional supplements in the United States means consumers must be wary of shoddy,
fraudulent, and even unsafe supplements with misleading claims.

It’s important to learn how to be a smart supplement shopper to make the most of our supplement-shopping freedom. You may be surprised to learn the worst supplements aren’t from some shadowy corner of the internet, but rather usually from your local drug or grocery store.
I am a huge believer in the saying “you get what you pay for” and in the case of supplements it couldn’t be more true. I’ll be honest. I am a supplement snob. I generally recommend staying away from costco, the grocery store, Trader Joes, and GNC.

For another post on where I recommend buying your supplements click on the link HERE.
You can save some serious cash.


At the same time, it’s also important to protect consumer access to supplements. The FDA’s approach to the industry is often viewed as unnecessarily aggressive due, it is widely believed by myself and I would say most alternative healthcare doctors, to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry. If they can’t make money off of some sort of “pill” that possibly competes or helps prevent a condition that one of their drugs is supposed to treat, then they will try to get is banned. They don’t like competition. Again, just look at what happened with Red Yeast Rice and more specifically Kratom.

As the rates of “untreatable” or “mysterious” chronic diseases and dementia continue to skyrocket, people increasingly turn to alternative health care and nutritional supplements to address their health concerns. This has turned the supplement industry into one worth many billions of dollars. But still nowhere near the level of pharmaceutical companies.

The supplement industry has created its own standards of quality that manufacturers can choose to comply with in order to reassure their buyers only the purest ingredients are used.

Avoid cheap, mass marketed supplements comprised of synthetic or inflammatory fillers (such as wheat and corn), poor quality ingredients, inactive ingredients, and artificial colors. There is also no way of knowing how shipping and storing has affected the ingredients.

What to look for in quality supplements

For starters, avoid fillers that use wheat, corn, starches, and magnesium stearate. Also, research the origin of the ingredients. Herbal ingredients can come from heavily polluted areas in other countries and be loaded with toxins. Good companies test their ingredients for toxins. This is still no guarantee but its a start.
Research the brand. Are they formulated with a health-care professional and a scientific advisory board? Are there peer-reviewed studies to back up the ingredients? Does the company test purity?

What is their marketing like?


Do they use sleazy snake-oil selling tactics? Or do they cater to licensed practitioners and provide educational seminars to teach about the products and how best to incorporate them into a health care plan?

Also, look for supplement companies that send their products out to independent labs to test for quality and purity.

NSF International, an independent organization, certifies supplements on three levels of quality:

Certified Good manufacturing practices (CGMPs): These are guidelines that assure a product conforms with what’s listed its label.

American National Standard for dietary supplement products: Testing that ensures products contain what is on the label and not undeclared contaminants. This is an all too common issue in the supplement industry.

NSF Certified for Sport: Screens for athletic banned substances.

2 of the most common issues in the supplement industry are:
#1 - the product does not contain what it says it contains. There have been numerous tests on various products finding that the actual amount of the claimed ingredient was at less than 10% of what was claimed.

#2 - Number two is actually to opposite of number 1. This is when the quality or the purity of the supplement may contain the actual dosage of the listed supplement but is also has toxins or other often harmful ingredients in the supplement that is not listed.

So there you have some little things that you can do to help insure you are getting what you pay for.
Again, check out my previous post and the best place to buy your supplements.

Until next time, happy shopping!

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen

Be Health, be happy.

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