Are you looking to choose supplements online, but aren’t sure which ones to choose?
Supplements can help with a variety of health concerns, from reducing bone loss to reducing the risk of birth defects to preventing heart disease to much more. However, it’s important to keep in mind that supplements are regulated by the FDA as food, not as drugs.
Some supplements have strong biological effects that could interfere with the medicine you’re taking or with a medical condition that you have. If you don’t choose the right supplements or use them in the correct manner, they could end up doing more harm to your body than good.
When buying supplements online, you have to be especially careful, as you don’t always know if the website you’re buying from is reputable. So, how do you choose supplements online?
Check out this guide to learn how it’s done.
What are Supplements?
Before we talk about buying supplements online, we first need to answer the question, “What are supplements?”
Dietary supplements contain vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other botanicals that support the body. You can find supplements in many forms, including tablets, gummies, capsules, powders, drinks, and energy bars.
No matter what form you buy the supplement in, each supplement package comes with a facts label that lists all of the active ingredients in the supplement. The label also lists inactive ingredients, such as binders, fillers, and flavorings.
The label also suggests what serving size you should take. However, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider about what amount is appropriate for you.
Most of the time, people take dietary supplements so that their bodies get adequate amounts of essential nutrients. In other words, if you’re not meeting all of your nutritional needs through your diet, you may want to consider taking a supplement.
According to a recent study, 92% of Americans have some form of vitamin deficiency, so chances are, you could benefit from a dietary supplement. In addition to meeting dietary needs, people also take supplements for weight management and to enhance their sports performance.
Figure Out Which Supplement You Need
There are literally thousands of supplement stores online that sell millions of different supplements. Before you go online to purchase supplements, you first need to figure out which supplements you need.
To figure out which supplements you need, it’s best to speak to a nutritionist or your primary care provider. Everyone’s needs are different, and your own supplement needs will vary according to your diet, lifestyle, and health conditions. That being said, here are some of the most popular supplements taken by American adults:
According to a recent report, 42% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can cause:
- Frequent tiredness or feeling fatigued
- Back and bone pain
- Bone and hair loss
- Impaired wound healing
- Muscle pain
Vitamin D is produced in your skin in response to sunlight, so if you live in a cold area that doesn’t see a lot of sunshine, chances are, you’re suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. Other common risk factors for a vitamin D deficiency include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Not eating a lot of dairy or fish
- Being elderly
- Having dark skin
- Always wearing sunscreen when stepping outside
- Living far from the equator
- Living in an area with high pollution
Your doctor can figure out if you have a vitamin D deficiency through a simple blood test. If a deficiency is found, your doctor will also likely perform x-rays to check your bone strength.
A vitamin D supplement can help you combat all of the above side effects.
According to a recent report, around 50 percent of the US population is magnesium deficient. Taking a magnesium supplement can help you:
- Fight depression
- Boost exercise performance
- Combat type 2 diabetes
- Lower blood pressure
- Prevent migraines
- Reduce insulin resistance
- Alleviate PMS symptoms
- Promote hair follicle growth (You can watch here to learn about the best supplements for hair)
Those who are suffering from a magnesium deficiency usually experience a loss of appetite, fatigue, muscle weakness, nausea, and vomiting.
Omega-3s are another popular supplement. Omega-3s are found naturally in fish, so if you’re a vegetarian or vegan or you don’t like the taste of seafood, chances are, you aren’t getting enough omega-3s in your diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help:
- Lower your blood pressure levels
- Slow the development of plaque in your arteries
- Reduce the likelihood of a stroke or heart attack
- Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in those suffering from heart disease
- Reduce the chance of an abnormal heart rhythm
To meet your recommended amount of omega-3s, the American Heart Association recommends that you eat fish twice per week. If you’re not doing these, then you should consider taking a supplement.
Other common supplements that Americans take include:
- Vitamin C
- Green Tea
- Vitamin K
Many Americans also take multivitamins, which contain a variety of the above nutrients plus other vitamins and minerals.
Shop From Reputable Brands
Before you buy a supplement online, it’s very important that you do some research on the brand. Professional brands test the quality of their ingredients on a regular basis, whereas an OTC or generic company likely isn’t going to perform quality tests as frequently.
When you come across an online supplement brand that you like, make sure you research their customer reviews, testimonials, and how long they’ve been in business.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, supplements contain both active and inactive ingredients. Active ingredients include the vitamins, herbs, and botanicals that are found in the supplement, whereas the inactive ingredients refer to the binders, fillers, and other impure ingredients.
These inactive ingredients are known as excipients, and they don’t provide any medical use to the body. Instead, excipients allow manufacturers to produce a stable product that consumers can safely take. For example, there are excipients that preserve, sweeten, dilute, or color the supplement.
When used correctly, excipients aren’t a bad thing, as they make supplements more palatable. A few toxic excipients that you want to avoid include:
- Propylene Glycol: This can cause seizures and severe neurological symptoms
- Polysorbate 80: This excipient is linked to colon cancer and alterations in gut bacteria, as well as blood clots and heart attacks
- Saccharin sodium: This may disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut
- Benzoates: These may increase your risk of inflammation, obesity, oxidative stress, ADHD, and allergies
As you can see, some excipients are quite dangerous for human consumption. Before buying a supplement online, make sure to read over the full list of excipients. Then, Google each excipient individually to learn about the potential side effects and complications.
Opt for Capsules Over Tablets
As we discussed earlier, supplements are available in a variety of different forms. If you’re deciding between capsules and tablets, it’s typically best to opt for capsules.
This is because tablets tend to contain more excipients than capsules. For example, many tablets contain coloring agents. Tablets also require other potentially harmful excipients such as coatings, binders, and lubricants. Depending on the company you purchase from, the tablet may even be sprayed with an unhealthy preservative such as corn oil.
Instead of consuming all of these extra artificial ingredients, we suggest choosing a supplement in its purest form. Typically, consuming a capsule is the best way to get ingredients in their raw form without any add ons.
Avoid Deals That Sound Too Good to Be True
For many people, avoiding deals that sound too good to be true goes without saying. However, when it comes to improving our health, a lot of peoples’ judgment can be clouded.
If a supplement claims that it can do something that would typically require more than just a pill, it’s likely too good to be true. For example, if a supplement says that it can make you lose weight without any diet or exercise, that’s a red flag.
While certain supplements may aid in weight loss, you still need to eat right and exercise to lose weight.
Start With Just One
Even if the label recommends that you take two or more supplements at a time, we recommend starting with one just to be safe. You never know how your body is going to react to a supplement, and by starting out slowly, you’ll better be able to monitor unwanted side effects.
Even safe supplements that contain raw ingredients can be harmful to some people, so starting out slow is the best way to guarantee you stay healthy.
Choose Supplements Online: Are You Ready to Buy Supplements?
Now that you know how to choose supplements online, it’s time to start your buying journey. Pretty soon, you’ll be reaping all of the benefits that supplements have to offer.
Be sure to check back in with our blog for more healthy living tips and tricks.