Ideal for ensuring you’re meeting your nutritional needs.

We are in the midst of a particularly bleak winter, and with many currently striving for a more wholesome diet and strengthened immune system, it’s no wonder that supplement sales have increased hugely recently. In fact, following the last lockdown, the Financial Times reported that sales had reached a record high in 2020, and with January typically representative of a heightened interest in wellness of fresh starts, the trend looks set to continue into 2021.

Unfortunately, the online supplement market isn’t strictly regulated, and as such, buyers need to be scrupulous about their purchases to ensure the product they’re buying actually meets their nutritional needs. Deliberately impenetrable jargon, hidden ingredients and misleading reviews can all cause issues. With that in mind, here are 5 things to scrutinise when buying supplements online, IDEAL for ensuring you’re meeting your nutritional needs.

INGREDIENTS AUDIT

There might be millions of supplements on the market claiming to help your condition or provide you with exactly what your body needs, but their ingredients will differ hugely. 

Ideally, you’ll want your supplements to contain 100% natural ingredients, as this will enable your body to metabolise the contents far more efficiently. On the flipside, some of the more prevalent ingredients you want to avoid in supplements include artificial colouring, starch, talc and silicon dioxide, as well as sugars, added to make the supplement more palatable, but ultimately doing more harm than good. Maltodextrin, a thickening agent, is an ingredient you’ll often come across; be wary, it can cause spikes in your blood sugar level.

As a general rule, then, it’s best to give the ingredients of any supplement you’re considering an audit, preferably running them past a dietician or your GP, who will be more au fait with the terminology used. 

TASK SPECIFIC SUPPLEMENTS

Many studies in recent years have arrived at a similar conclusion; taking multivitamins indiscriminately isn’t doing you much good beyond initiating a minor placebo effect. Dr. Eliseo Guallar, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said via HealthDay that ‘’it’s not clear that taking supplements to fill gaps in a less-than-perfect diet really translates into any kind of health boost’’.

As such, it’s better to take a targeted approach to your supplement taking. Should your dietician or GP have identified that you’re suffering from a deficiency of a particular nutrient or vitamin, and it’s not possible to account for this in your diet, then supplements can play a role. Otherwise, healthy, wholesome eating should provide you with all the nutrition you need.

As an example, for those suffering from fatigue due to MTHFR, you should seek a dedicated supplement such as Methyl-Life’s™ methylated multivitamin, which is specifically made to help those whose bodies are unable to create folate. Doing so will address a single, precise issue, rather than spreading the net far and wide, but actually landing very little.

LEARN ABOUT THE MANUFACTURING AND TESTING PROCESS

Along with knowledge of the ingredients, an understanding of the product’s manufacturing process is essential. Make sure there have been numerous tests, and the supplement has undergone both internal and external testing. The product distributor should have undergone checks on the supplement to ensure it contains what it says it does. 

As well as this, you need to ensure that it has been externally checked and is FDA approved in the US, or FSA approved in the UK. Brands that provide the best quality supplements will have their product quality assurance tested for additional verification. Only trust a brand that has undergone vigorous and attentive testing regarding their manufacturing methods and the efficacy of the product.

Check out this handy guide regarding a supplement’s legal obligations in the UK for a more in depth look.

ASK WHO IS BEHIND THE BRAND

Researching exactly who is behind the brand and any ‘research’ about their product’s efficacy will give you a good indication of whether or not the supplements are good. 

Take a look at the company’s website; there needs to be a proven scientific foundation with scientifically-backed testimonials for the success of the product. If the supplement you’re looking for is targeting a specific condition, make sure those creating and marketing the product have in-depth experience and knowledge on this.

Also question the validity of any research published by the company. Interestingly, as an example of the level of scrutiny and suspicion you should be deploying, it was recently revealed that a study which concluded that Berocca may boost brainpower was funded by the company who owns Berocca. Question everything.

APPROACH REVIEWS WITH A LITTLE HEALTHY SCEPTICISM

Whilst it is true, all bodies are different, reading reviews from individuals suffering from the same conditions as you will indicate whether the supplement is likely to work on your own body. That said, a healthy dose of scepticism should be applied when reading these reviews; after all, a bot doesn’t suffer from nutritional deficiency, and as such, their testimonial isn’t exactly evidence that it works!

Check out these tips on how best to navigate online reviews for more guidance on recognising dodgy ones. Good luck!