Tips For Picking The Best Supplements
Selecting the best supplements is one of the most important questions you must answer after making that life-affirming decision to optimize your health naturally. And, it’s tough for many people to answer on their own (health food store shelves full of products with conflicting quantities and ingredients don’t make it very easy either).
Consider this scenario: You’ve just started doing your homework about natural treatments for common health problems, and read about echinacea, a very popular herb used to boost the body’s immune system and beat back the common cold.
So, you’ve made a trip to your local health food store, only to find the 10 “best” brands of echinacea. What do you do? Most of them look the same on the outside, but they’re not, especially if you take the time to read the ingredient labels to find out what you’re really taking…
Some tips to keep in mind when reviewing the nutritional labels of any supplement you find at a health food or drug store:
- Not all supplements use the same species of plant.
- Not all brands use the same percentage of the plant.
- Most use fillers in addition to the plant.
- Very few (if any) brands will tell you if they’ve used the root, leaves, bark or seeds of the plant in formulating the supplement.
Most folks will grab the first bottle of echinacea they find — usually the cheapest — off the shelf, then take the standard dosage as the bottle recommends. After a month or two, when patients don’t feel better, they assume “natural medicine” (in this case, echinacea) doesn’t work.
Unfortunately, the real problem is far more complicated than that. For one, folks were probably taking an inferior brand of supplement made from a poor species of plant. That lack of quality also affects the actual amount of the herb being used to produce the supplement.
A Therapeutic Dose
If the quality and quantities of the plant or herb used to produce the supplement were too low, patients weren’t taking a “therapeutic dose” of a quality herb that could have actually helped them (one more reason why people should work with a qualified natural health professional who can guide them).
In fact, how phytochemicals are processed to produce supplements are just as important — if not more so — than the species of the plant, according to Standard Process.
Two more factors that complicate supplement quality: The vast differences between marker (characteristic phytochemicals found in herbal plants that represent a quality or standard) and active (phytochemicals in a herb that are important to produce a given therapeutic effect) compounds.
For echinacea to work the way it should to boost your immune system throughout your body, active phytochemicals must be absorbed into your bloodstream in significant quantities.
This is why I encourage you to do your homework to learn more about the differences between whole food supplements made by companies like Standard Process and synthetic supplements you typically find in grocery and drug stores that provide isolated, fractionated and, often very minimal, pieces of the whole, at best.
Just a reminder, taking a supplement on its own will not be enough. You must do all of the work — meaning lifestyle and behavioral changes — in addition to taking the right supplements, to achieve optimal health.