Home | What are Supplements?
What are Supplements?
The term "supplement" is a fairly loose term and can mean anything from a protein shake to a bottle of vitamin C. While some are under the impression that a supplement can be (or should be) a direct replacement for certain foods in a diet, exercise, or even pharmaceutical medicine, no one should completely cut out foods, exercise, or certainly not prescription medicines without first talking to their MD.
"Supplements", as the term implies, were meant to "supplement" a diet, exercise, or lifestyle... not replace them. While there are some special circumstances where a supplement can directly replace something, this should not be a decision made by a person alone, but discussed with both their MD and holistic practitioner.
High vs. Low Quality Supplements
The most notable difference in a high vs. low quality supplement will be the price, but even the supplement market is subject to price hikes and devious selling tactics. So how does one tell the difference?
Unfortunately, there isn't a short answer to that question, suffice it to say that the simplest answer is to stick to a supplement that you know works for you. The longer answer is get the opinion of a few veteran holistic doctors, vs. attempting self-research or browsing the web (inc. Google, Facebook, etc.) for answers, as you'll very quickly become overrun with slews of opinions... and the problem with internet and social media opinions are that they tend to be more biased than the opinion of a holistic doctor who is going to be approaching your questions with your optimal health in mind (vs. the bias of one product or another). Naturally, even holistic doctors will be biased on products to some degree, but another key difference in a holistic doctor's recommendation over the internet's is the same difference if you were interested in buying a car and compared the opinions of a dealership vs. the opinions of a mechanic; where the dealership parallels looking to the internet for holistic answers, and the mechanic parallels talking to a holistic doctor for answers. While it isn't impossible to get information from social media or the internet, you are going to have to sift through all of the biased opinion, marketing tactics, and misinformation (or outdated information), just like you would talking to a dealership salesman, vs. talking to a person (e.g. holistic doctor) who works with dozens of people on a daily basis with the types of products you're looking for answers on.
There are a few key things a person can look for on their own to recognize high quality vs. marketing schemes in the supplement world, and as an example, here are some of the things we carefully look for when considering product lines to recommend:
Where are the ingredients sourced?
Just because it's made in the USA doesn't mean the ingredients are sourced there. As more and more manufacturer's look for ways to cut costs, this is one of the first questions we ask a company.
Is the supplement something you can get at your everyday retailer or is it only found in nutrition or vitamin stores?
Many retailers have extremely inexpensive "bulk product" deals to keep to the motto of "buy low and sell high". This is true of supplements as well. Since many inexpensive supplements are sourced out of China, they can be sold for much lower costs than nutrition store supplements, that are sourced from high quality labs or countries (e.g. New Zealand). In short, if your supplements are very inexpensive, you may want to look into where the manufacturer sources their ingredients.
Is it "therapeutic" or "pharmaceutical" grade?
These terms are direct marketing terms, and in both cases, should raise a red flag. "Therapeutic" simply means that the supplement can be used in a "therapeutic" way (such as aromatherapy or essential oils), and in no way indicates its level of purity or quality. "Pharmaceutical" on the other hand is a term that many supplement manufacturer's are using to indicate that the advertised product has gone through the same scrutinizing quality control process as a pharmaceutical drug. This is impossible as the FDA does not have a "pharmaceutical standard" for natural supplements. Instead, the FDA created something called the GMP (or Good Manufacturing Practices) standard in 2008 to provide a means of helping to control the quality, labeling, and packaging (of both domestic and foreign companies) of natural supplements. Through 3rd party testing, such as with the NSF, NPA, USP, or some other FDA certified organization, natural supplements of actual high quality will have one of these stamps of approval over a "therapeutic" or "pharmaceutical" badge.
How much does it cost as compared to other products of known equivalent quality?
Some companies use pyramid or sub-contracted sales reps to increase the saturation of their product in the market. While this tactic is very efficient in increasing product saturation in the market, it also drives up the cost of the product; meaning that you could be getting a product of the exact same (or better) quality for far less from companies who don't use this tactic.
These questions are only a few of the standard we have for our supplements and products, all so we can guarantee our clients the best quality supplements on the market, and save them a ton of grief trying to sort through the internet's opinions, marketing schemes, and out-sourced supplements that exist.
If you have any questions or concerns about our supplements or manufacturer's, please call or email our office.
Holistic Health Insurance