A few weeks ago the New York Times reported that the New York State attorney general’s office accused several major retailers, including WalMart, Target, Walgreens, and GNC, for taking advantage of the lack of regulation of dietary supplements by selling products that had little to no active ingredients. It’s companies like these that are responsible for the constant scrutiny and questioning of vitamins and minerals, all in the name of making a dollar.
How does this affect us? We use targeted supplementation to help our clients feel better. Because we deal with some complex issues when helping our clients, it is essential that we use top quality supplements to support their healing. That means we use only top quality supplement companies, only available through healthcare professionals.
Our clients often ask what the difference is in buying supplements from us vs. the grocery store. Here are a few things you should know:
- Herbal Supplements: the companies above were accused of selling herbal supplements that contained numerous fillers and not much else. Especially with herbs, you need to know that specific parts of the plants contain the active ingredients which promote healing. For example, Saw Palmetto is an herb best known for prostate health. It is the oil from the berries that contains the active ingredient. If your product was manufactured by a company that is cutting costs, they may use the stems and flowers which offer no healing effect. In other words, you might as well not take it at all. A good company uses liquid chromatography to identify the plants before processing. Take away tip: ask a professional that is educated in the use of herbs before jumping in.
- Fish oil:oil-based supplements can easily go rancid if not handled and shipped properly. For example, the fish oil that we carry is shipped to us overnight, in freezer packs, to ensure that they aren’t exposed to heat, which alters the powerful properties of the fish oil. Most larger companies have no regulations on shipping and handling, so there is no way to know how long the supplements were at the warehouse, on the shipping truck, or on the shelf at the store. There’s no way to know how much heat exposure these products have had, creating an uncertainty of their quality. Take away tip: cut open one of your fish oil capsules. If it smells bad or rancid, then you shouldn’t take it.
- Expiration dates:many companies have eliminated expiration dates and replaced them with manufacturing dates. If stored properly, most supplements (with a few exceptions like fish oil) can be kept for quite some time. Take away tip: herbs typically last for a year, vitamins for two years, and minerals up to three years.
- Good Manufacturing Practice:Designs for Health, our primary supplement supplier, mark all of their products with GMP. This means that the products went through rigorous testing and quality control to assure that the products are not only of exceptional quality but are what they say they are. They are