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Buying a supplement

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Today, the concept of ‘nutrition’ is so complicated that one cannot simply define the nutritional intake without seeking professional help. Given an ideal scenario, it would be best to consume all the vitamins and minerals your body needs by eating real foods. Although it should be your goal to do so, but due to the hectic and fast-paced lifestyle, irregular eating patterns and poor exercise, it is unlikely that you can ingest the right amount of essential nutrients from your daily intake. This creates a gap in essential nutrition which unfortunately, we cannot realize till we fall ill. As we all know, ‘prevention is better than cure’ - bridging this nutritional gap can help you build better immunity, optimum metabolism and good quality body tissues which in turn helps prevent a number of diseases.

But first, let’s understand the term nutritional supplement? A nutritional supplement by definition is a kind of enhanced functional food which can help bridge the nutritional gap and offer the right amount of balance in the dietary intake of nutrients.

Now, buying supplements can feel like an overwhelming process. With hundreds of options available to purchase online, from pharmacies, convenience stores, and entire racks dedicated to them in grocery stores. Just because supplements are prevalent and rather convenient, you cannot assume that they are all effective.

It is therefore essential to know why you are taking the supplement. This article will help you to understand the facts to check for whilst choosing the right supplement for your needs.

Ask yourself these basic questions before buying a nutritional supplement:

  • Do I really need a nutritional supplement?
  • What is the objective?
  • What are the side-effects?
  • Will it react with other medications that I take?

When buying supplements, it becomes crucial to know which supplement brands to buy and which ones to avoid. Hence, before you grab a handful of supplements off the shelf, you need to do your research. It is important to note that a supplement does you no good if your body cannot process it well!

How do you separate the good supplements from the rest, and how do you know they will even work? Here are 12 precautionary factors to be kept in mind before buying the right supplements.

  1. Ensure that the company you are buying from is legitimate. Does the company have a website and business support in case of any query? Check the reviews and make sure to verify their integrity before you buy a supplement.

  2. Ensure quality supplements. It is important to take into account third-party organizations that evaluate or verify the quality of the product.

  3. Examine the effectiveness of the ingredients. Check if there is any clinical research backing up the effectiveness of the ingredients.

  4. Never forget to check on the expiration date. You certainly don’t want a product without an expiration date or by chance, purchase something that is past its prime. Remember, active ingredients will become inactive over time.

  5. Read what is on the supplement label. The product supplement facts on the label list the active ingredients and the amount per serving (dose). There is also a section that lists inactive ingredients like fillers, binders, and flavourings.

  6. Should you take the suggested amount? Supplements come with a suggested serving size or dosage direction. It is best to consult with your healthcare provider before buying supplements as the dosage you should take may differ from the amount the manufacturer recommends.

  7. Can supplements be used as a replacement for a healthy diet? Remember, a healthy diet cannot be replaced by supplements. In fact, they should be used in addition to a healthy diet. Supplements can deliver adequate amounts of essential nutrients, if you don’t eat a nutritious variety of foods, or if you have difficulty absorbing the nutrients in food. However, it is important to eat a healthy diet.

  8. Check the marketing claims made by the company. Do some research before buying supplements and check if the advertised claims made by the company are backed by scientific or just anecdotal evidence? Also, check if the company spends time on Research & Development.

  9. Does the nutritional supplement contain any drugs? Look out for a nutritional supplement which is 100% drug-free.

  10.  Does the nutritional supplement contain Gluten / GMO’s / Additives / Soy / Shellfish / Food allergens? Choose a nutritional supplement which does not contain GMO, eggs, gluten, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, yeast, artificial flavours or artificial colours. However, it may contain allergens like soy, milk and sucralose. If you are sensitive / allergic to these ingredients, please read through the ingredient list carefully.

  11. Can you take supplements if you are pregnant or nursing? It is advised that you talk to your healthcare provider before buying supplements if pregnant or nursing.

  12. Can you give supplements to your child? Not all supplements have been adequately tested for use by children. It is recommended to check with your healthcare provider before giving a supplement to your child.

Take note of these basic steps when buying a supplement and always consult your healthcare provider before consuming any supplements. Make sure to keep up to date about what you’re putting in your body - onward to better and optimal health!