Do your Vitamins and Supplements Pass this 5 Point Test?

Nearly everyone takes some kind of vitamin, mineral or herbal supplement. Why? Did we “hear” they are good to take? Did our doctor or health professional recommend a supplement? Did we get tested and the results show a need for these specific things? What makes us choose one brand over another? (They aren’t all created equal.) 


Most of us do supplement in some way for a variety of reasons. We get busy and we add in and eat too much of the non-helpful processed foods and leave out the helpful foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Nearly ALL of us don’t add in a colorful variety of 7-13 fruits and vegetables consistently every day. Plus, we know that even when we do eat “healthy” our food doesn’t have the nutrients it did when our grandparents and great grandparents were farming or getting food from more local sources. Food is harvested well before ripeness and it doesn’t get to us sometimes for weeks, even months if we are talking about out of season carrots or apples that we can miraculously get all year long, losing nutrients all along the way. 


The saying, “We are what we eat eats” also holds value for those who consume animal products. What the animals eat has also changed over the years. For example, commercial cows raised for beef are packed together on barren land, eating corn to fatten them up but also making them sick which then requires antibiotics, and also making the meat low in Omega 3 and high in Omega 6 throwing off the ideal ratio of 2:1. Contrast this to how cattle was raised 60 years ago or on a “modern” grass fed farm; joyously roaming and grazing on grasses their bodies are designed to eat, making their meat naturally higher in Omega 3’s which produces a more helpful ratio of Omegas 3 to 6. Chris Kesser, one of my favorite functional medicine educators and practitioners, shares more on this topic if you want to go deeper into this and specifically the consumption of grass fed vs grain fed meat. Chris Kesser


So, supplementing not only makes sense but can become an important part of getting and maintaining optimal health and prevention of disease. But where to start? There are SO many options. Many companies don’t even make their own products but rather are “distributors.” This  means one of a few factories make the majority of your supplements and are then rebranded as their own. This is called private label. There is nothing wrong with private label as long as you really know what you are paying for and putting into your body.


Here are some essentials to consider when choosing a supplement so your body and mind has energy, gets the ultimate nutrition, you don’t waste your money and you look and feel your best.


5 Must Haves to Check Off When Looking for a Vitamin Supplement 


    1. Is it 3rd party certified? Who is guarding the bottle and keeping an eye out for you? There are several reputable companies but the one I have the most trust in is NSF. NSF has been around for almost 80 years and and is the premier 3rd party certifier. What does that mean for you? It means that what is on the label is in the bottle and there’s nothing additional slipped in there by mistake or on purpose. The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, they approve drugs and inspect food processing facilities so companies have a lot of free reign when it comes to food and supplements as to what they include and leave out. There’s NO federal or state overseeing organization to ensure safety. One would think, if it’s on a shelf or sold online, it’s safe. Not true. Kind of scary, right? Some ingredients found in products that aren’t listed on the labels can be downright dangerous. For more on NSF, choosing supplements and specific ingredients to avoid visit their site. NSF Plus, don’t you want to make sure your money is being well spent?

    2. Is it whole food based? Do the ingredients come from food or chemicals from a manufacturing plant? Food is what our bodies are designed to absorb and utilize best. Food is where we ideally want our vitamins and minerals to come from for several reasons but one is that when our vitamins come from food, they are in a perfectly balanced ratio giving a synergy that is exponential as compared to if you took each ingredient separately.

    1. Do you FEEL a difference (in energy, immune system, vision, stamina, digestion, etc.) or SEE a difference in your bloodwork and biomarkers? (cholesterol, ESR and CRP) This is important! Otherwise, why would you spend the money? Just hoping your supplements will help you isn’t good enough, especially since supplements aren’t cheap. For some, the difference is huge! You have more energy, mental clarity, stamina, strong immune system and your bloodwork improves so much you don’t need certain medicines.. Sometimes, the difference is smaller like you notice your hair and nails growing faster and stronger, your skin is less dry and looks younger and your blood work shows some improvement so that you can cut back on medicines. Regardless, they are signs that what you are taking is doing good work in your body. For example, I took multiple vitamins, herbs and minerals for years but still suffered from fatigue, sinus infections, constipation, low immune system, asthma, and more so clearly, I was not benefitting from much of them.

    1. Is it bioavailable? Will it be absorbed and used? Will it even get into your bloodstream? This is a tricky one! Unless it has been researched to show that the actual supplement you are popping is getting into the bloodstream, you are wasting your money on wishful thinking. Who has money to waste? Not me! Not you!

    2. Finally, Is there research behind the product? Sometimes companies will spout about research but often it is not on the combined actual product but rather just individual ingredients IN the product. These are not the same things. For one, you don’t know how the ingredients, when blended and consumed together, will interact. Will there be a synergy that is exponentially helpful like when we eat whole food or will it be inert or even harmful?


If you aren’t 100% thrilled with what your supplements are doing for you or you’ve been looking for supplements that actually DO SOMETHING, and pass all 5 of the above with flying colors, check this out. I have taken the Juice Plus Trio and Omega complex for over the past 6 years and feel better now that I did in my 40’s and 30’s and much of my 20’s. I didn’t realize how much more I needed to supplement my already healthy diet and had no idea that all I needed was supplements from WHOLE FOOD that were proven to do good things in my body. 
Dr. Bill Sears, “America’s Pediatrician” shares more here. Science and Supplements