Where Should I Buy My Supplements?

Supplements and Vitamins

I’m taking a short break from common childhood conditions to address something that I have seen a lot lately.  The questions of 1) where to get supplements and 2) if there is a difference in quality between brands are questions that I hear on a daily basis.  I will try to clarify things a little with this post.

There are three main “classes” of supplements: the ones you can get at big box stores and national pharmacies (i.e. Walmart/Costco/Rite-Aid/Walgreens/GNC/etc); the ones that you can get at health food stores (i.e. Whole Foods, Cranberry’s, Healthy Habits, etc); and the ones that you can only get through a health care professional.

 

Big Box Stores

RiteAidLets take a look at the box store brands. What is the main goal of these stores when they take brands into their store? Well, they want to get the product from the manufacturer as inexpensively as possible so that they can sell it in their stores for low prices.  What does that mean for the products that are produced to go into these types of stores? It means that all of the quality control processes that you would want and expect to ensure that you are getting good vitamins are not being done. There is very little research and development of these supplements. For example, the appropriate ratios, quantities, and forms of the vitamins and minerals that would be best for your body to absorb and utilize are not there. The process of quality control to ensure that the levels of additives, fillers, and chemicals are low and the amount of vitamins and minerals they claim are in the supplements are actually in the supplements, is not there.  The appropriate storage of the supplement in temperature and moisture controlled facilities does not happen.  This inappropriate storage can lead to the further degradation of the supplements, so that by the time you are taking them there is no possible way that you are getting the advertised amount of vitamins. Many of these products have fillers, additives, dyes, preservatives, and other toxins in them because they are cheap and they increase the visual appearance and flavor of the supplements. These chemicals can often times completely offset the benefit you are getting from the supplement.

 

Health Food Stores

Whole FoodsSo, what about health food stores? Health food stores will typically do a better job of choosing brands that avoid many of the downfalls of supplements that you can get at the big box stores.  Many times you will find supplements that have a little more research behind them and a good amount of quality control.  When a patient needs a product that we do not routinely carry in our office, I often refer them to our local health food stores for the supplements they need. Some of these supplement companies carried in the health food stores may have independent labs that test to make sure that the amount of vitamins the company says are in the supplement are actually in the supplement.  These supplements will typically not have the crazy fillers, chemicals, additives, and dyes that the big box store supplements will have; so, the overall quality of the supplements is going to be better than the big box stores.  The better quality does come with a higher price tag.  In the supplement world you are typically going to be paying more for better products.  This, of course, is not the case all the time, but for the most part, it is true.  I would definitely recommend looking into exactly what is in the supplements you are buying from the health food stores.  The differences in quality that I have listed here are generalizations and may not be true of every supplement in these stores.  It may even be worth a call to the supplement company to get answers to any questions you may have about their product. Bottom line: make sure you know everything that is in the supplement you are taking.

 

Health Care Professional

Healthy BodyFinally, we come to supplements available through a health care professional.  These are going to be the supplements with the most research, testing, and quality control. These are going to be about as expensive or a little more expensive than the health food store supplements – again you are paying for the quality of the supplement.  These supplements are typically going to have the best ratios and forms of the vitamins for the optimal absorption and utilization by your body.  Put in the hands of a practitioner that knows the purpose of each supplement that they have and how it should physiologically benefit your body, these are going to be your best bet when it comes to supplementing your diet. A lot of the pressure is taken off of you if your health care practitioner has done their research and can tell you about each supplement and how it works. However, just like the vitamins at the health food store, YOU should know what is in each supplement and why you are taking it.

In the case of our office, we carry many different supplements from a few different supplement companies.  I currently use, or have at least personally tried, most of the supplements that we carry.  My wife and my son also use the supplements we carry in the office on a daily basis.  We carry the products that we do because we use them and know that they work better than any other company that we have tried, and, of course, I have done the research on each of the companies we do business with.  I have no problem phasing supplement companies in or out of the office if we find that another company is better, or the company that we have been working with does not have the high quality of supplements that we require them to have. Your health care practitioner should be able to say the same thing about the supplements that they carry in their office.

Remember, your health care is ultimately your responsibility.  The amount of time, energy, and money you put into researching your options and determining which is best for you and your family will often be reflected in the level of happiness and health your family is experiencing.  Do your research and get informed – it is the best way to keep you and your family healthy for life.

Dr. Andrew About Dr. Andrew

Dr. Andrew Dodge lives in Staunton, Virginia, with his wife Nicole and their children Luke and Josie. Dr. Andrew is a graduate of Parker College of Chiropractic at Parker University in Dallas, Texas.

Comments

  1. I must say, I love your B supplement I get! I had tried taking Bs before and felt no difference…I know if I miss the B complex I get from you!
    And fish oil that doesn’t make you burp fish?! Love that one too!
    I do get NOW brand vitamin D from Healthy Habits, and am happy with it.
    Thx for all your great info shares! <3 you guys!

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