The supplement industry is a billion-dollar business. Companies will sell you and promise results if you just take their pills and drink their powders. However, they are not all bad. Some supplements are worth taking. But you need to know what is worth buying and which will prevent risk and offer results.
Here are four things you can do to understand the effectiveness of a supplement.
1. Do some research about the supplement.
A site like PubMed is excellent! It is a great tool for research. PubMed is very transparent. For example, if you are reading research about a supplement and the company doing the research is the one selling the supplement, they disclose that.
However, often, research is done on untrained people or people with deficiencies. For example, people with low testosterone take testosterone boosters, which boost their testosterone. But a healthy person taking a testosterone booster has no effect. They don’t work. What you must understand about testosterone boosters is that if they really boost your testosterone, it probably would be illegal. That’s what steroids do.
Another instance would be glutamine. Your body makes glutamine. If you eat protein, you need not worry about glutamine. However, the supplement works for people with low glutamine levels due to stress or deficiency. But if you don’t have a deficiency, then it won’t work.
I gave you these examples so you can understand that the research is usually done on deficient and untrained people. It produces a positive and effective result in their study. However, companies apply that information to the general population to sell a supplement that will not work.
2. Learn to read the label.
First and foremost, the FDA does not regulate supplements. This is a bit concerning because mixing many different plant extracts and roots together may seem ok. But sometimes, the interactions cause adverse reactions if not appropriately investigated.
Mega doses are not healthy, especially with something like Ma Huang. It has happened to me. One time, the Ma Huang was higher than required. Unfortunately, I only found out when I had a bad experience and did the research. So more does not mean better and can be life-threatening.
Make sure the ingredients are not all bunched into one category. For example, The intense energy, mind-busting rage workout propriety formula on the label lumps all the ingredients and milligrams under one blend. The company will list all the ingredients without you knowing the measurement of each supplement. For instance, they will just write 4,231mg of the formula. But how much of what is what?
Be cautious if they say sugar-free. It means many additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeter is probably added.
Be cautious if it says vegan friendly. How is it vegan friendly if you are adding preservatives and additives? Many of these ingredients have been tested on animals for quality and safety. Also, vegan is more about purity as well.
Be cautious If a product claims it will cure your pain, illness, disorder, or disease.
3. Look for third-party testing.
NSF is a third-party testing organization that is true and unbiased in its testing results of supplements.
Look for labels that have the certification from NSF or any other reputable company. This certificate shows that the company has had its products tested by a certified independent organization. They test the for-product toxicity of ingredients, quality, and potency of the contents.
Many ingredients can contain lead from coloring or arsenic located in the ground and soil. The NSF indicates that the product has been tested for these common harmful substances and contaminants. NSF product certification means the product is not detrimental, and the ingredients listed are natural and legit.
Other third-party companies are US Pharmacopeia, Underwriters Laboratory, and Consumer Labs.
4. Is it bioavailable?
How much of a mineral, nutrient, or substance your body can absorb is known as bioavailability. Over-the-counter supplements are taken orally. That means it needs to survive through your stomach for absorption. For example, let’s take resveratrol. To get an effective dose of 500mg to 1 gram, you would have to eat 2 pounds of grapes or drink 15 bottles of wine. So, taking a 1-gram scoop of resveratrol is simple and has a 75% bioavailability rate which is very good.
And by having certain minerals present with other ones helps bioavailability as well. You see this a lot in supplements. For example, Vitamin D boosts the amount of magnesium that can get absorbed.
Finally, since the FDA does not regulate supplements, you must stay educated about the facts, efficacy, and their goodness to prevent harm. This is especially important when it comes to energy and pre-workout drinks.