From single vitamins and minerals to nutrient and herb blends, there are many supplements on the market that provide specific health benefits.
However, due to limited regulation, it's not always clear which supplements are high-quality and which are a waste of money or even a potential danger.
This guide contains everything you need to know about supplements and how to choose a safe and high-quality product.
What are supplements?
Supplements are products taken orally and containing a "dietary ingredient" such as vitamins, minerals, herbs and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, probiotics, antioxidants or other nutrients. They are usually marketed as an easy and effective way to improve your physical or mental health.
Most healthy people can get all the vitamins and minerals they need through diet alone. However, there are certain conditions, medications, and circumstances where supplements may be needed to meet nutritional needs.
However, the key point to mention when talking about dietary supplements is that they are meant to supplement, not replace, nutrients or other compounds in the diet.
This means that even if you are taking a supplement, it is still important to eat a varied and balanced diet whenever possible.
Supplementation - yes or no?
In general, taking vitamin and mineral supplements is not necessary for healthy adults with an adequate supply of these nutrients.
And here the question arises: what does our diet look like, do we have problems with the absorption of nutrients (inflammation, drugs, chemical compounds, alcohol, coffee), how valuable are the products we eat (is carrot still the same carrot as 10-20 years ago) and on what soil our food grows (fertilizers destroy many mineral compounds).
So while dietary intake of these essential nutrients is preferable, I think most of us may find it difficult to do so. There are also some cases where supplements should be given.
pregnant or breastfeeding women (rather without herbs)
infants who are exclusively or partially breastfed (rather without herbs)
adults or children diagnosed with nutritional deficiencies
adults and children from climate zones with low insolation
people in conditions causing nutrient absorption disorders
people who have had bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass;
adults or children with limited access to food
vegans and vegetarians
Features of the perfect supplement
Carefully evaluated and selected for each ingredient. Safe and effective products, guaranteeing that what is on the label is in the bottle in the amount described. There should be no interactions between the combined components.
The composition and dosage translate into the effect of the supplement.
Listed for trading
All products should be registered inin the register of the Chief Sanitary Inspectorateand the National KS-BLOZ Database.
The quality of supplements should be taken seriously and therefore producers should be tested by accredited, independent external certification bodies, i.e. NSF International, SGS Institut Fresenius, etc. They have ISO and FSSC certification, production and storage standards, compliance with HACCP and cGMP. Companies with quality certificates have successfully passed the verification process of the highest quality products and comply with applicable standards.
Tested active ingredients
Created, proven, tested and approved by in-house scientific experts and independent third-party labs for purity, potency, safety and quality. Raw materials for production have patented forms, and all other materials have certificates and chemical and quality analyses.
No chemical additives
Preparations should be produced in accordance with the concept of "clean label". This means - no unnecessary ingredients. They should not contain plasticizers, harmful additives (fillers, anti-caking agents, thickeners, dyes and preservatives) or allergens.
They should be free of environmental toxins and pollutants.
Composition based on natural plant and fungal ingredients, the effects of which are confirmed by numerous studies and tradition of use. Raw materials for production have patented forms, certificates and chemical and quality analyzes.
Products should be easy to apply, with high and fast bioabsorption of active substances.
All suppliers of raw materials used for production should be thoroughly verified and regularly audited in terms of quality.
A company established on the market
A company should be on the market for years, not months. It should also have a marketing network based on pharmacy and herbal shops, as well as a well-structured website and customer service.
Receiving the title of Top Rated Catalog/Internet Brand is welcome.
date of production
According to the best international standards, dietary supplement products should preferably have a "manufacturing date", not an "expiration date" or "best by". This date is the day the product was manufactured. In most cases, products are considered stable at full potency for two years from the date of manufacture. Liquid supplements and probiotics are generally stable for one year from the date of manufacture. However, always read the manufacturer's leaflet.
For vegans and vegetarians, special dietary supplements have been prepared that do not contain ingredients of animal origin.
As a result of intensive cultivation and fishing, many organizations have been established together with social activists and environmentalists to control production and promote ecological and efficient methods of production and use of the raw material.
A container produced with the use of vegetable raw materials or recyclable amber glass bottles. Metal nuts. The ink for printing on the packaging is safe for the environment.
Raw materials from organic farming.
They should be on a list that includes products with a minimized risk of doping. Dietary supplements have been tested for the presence of selected anabolic steroids and stimulants by an independent scientific laboratory.
No GMOs, No Gluten, No...
They should contain markings on the packaging for people on elimination diets or those with cultural and religious principles, e.g. halal and kosher certified, GMO-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, allergen-free, shellfish-free...
Price makes quality. The cheapest ones may be of poor quality or adulterated. But these at a price above PLN 100 (for a month of dosing) must actually have an amazing effect and be unique to be worth the price. If they do not have a really strong argument for - I suggest choosing an average price range.
A few words about MLM supplements
Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) of dietary supplements has seen dramatic growth in recent decades and is the second most popular topic of this type of marketing. This controversial business model is not legally fraudulent as many people might believe. It's just that the entire financial outlay of the company, instead of banners, posters and advertisements in the media, prefers to pay its representatives as a bit of 'word of mouth' marketing. However, what follows from this model, often representatives thinking only about the next commission from the client, use unethical strategies, pushing unnecessary things to excess and tiresome pushiness directly hitting the unassertive client.
However, the products of the most famous brands, although expensive - are usually of very good quality, made of natural plant extracts, ecological. The companies have many standardized examinations, certificates and tests. After all, it is important for business purposes to be able to boast about them.
Many of these companies often advertise their products exaggeratedly as the best and only way to improve various aspects of health or lose weight completely. The key point is that they are meant to supplement, not replace, nutrients or other compounds in the diet. One, even the best pill or syrup will not replace a healthy lifestyle!
To sum up, buy supplements from proven MLM companies on the market, don't let yourself be told that you need a million different products because there is a promotion, look for supplements you really need and need to supplement, look for safety and quality indicators, including the list of ingredients, dosage and certification these products from external tests.
Brands we would buy ourselves
Swanson, Now Foods, Solgar, Dr. Jacobs, Garden Of Life, Thorne, Formeds, Alliness, Invex, Olimp Labs, Swisspharm
LR, Duo Life (Sunvital), Narum, Magic Garden (herbal tinctures), oils Wyszyński