Although not being much of a pill person, lately, with all my health issues, I've found myself taking more supplements than I'd like too (luckily most are temporary!). Since taking several of my continuing education classes, I know also have access to practitioner grade supplements, which has also changed my opinion on where to source supplements as well.
Unlike drugs, supplements are NOT as strictly regulated by the FDA. This means you need to be 100 times more careful when selecting supplements because you don't want to spend money on something that could be worthless or, worse yet, harm you.
Tests have been done on several different types of supplements (fish oil comes to mind in particular) that haven proven that most brands on the shelf aren't all they claim to be (because they can claim just about anything they want). This basically means you are wasting your money money that you could be putting towards a quality supplement. Quality sometimes means you pay a bit more, but if it means you get more out of the supplement, in the long run, it will save you money as you will not need to use it as long term as you might with a low quality version.
Besides just physical supplements in pill form, there are also all sorts of drinks, bars, and powders claiming to reset your health and cure you of everything known to man.
This simply isn't true, especially of most powders (especially protein powders and drinks). These foods aren't really foods - they are products that have been denatured and have all sorts of added artificial ingredients (artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, etc). Some of my least favorites in this category include Herbalife, Shakeology, Special K, and anything sold at GNC. Are there a few brands out there using quality ingredients and sourcing? Yes. Are they hard to come across? Yes, yes, yes.
So, when it comes down to it, we want to be choosing products that ideally come through a practitioner (like myself - let me know if you need recommendations!). If that isn't an option, consider the following to check whether or not a product is quality:
1. If it sounds to good to be true and promises the world, it probably isn't worth it.
2. Do research on the brands website. Are there third party studies and research done on the supplements?
3. Look for brands that are real and transparent, brands that actually care about their products, not just making money.
4. Ask yourself "why am I using this?"
5. Avoid brands with lots of extra ingredients or fillers, rather than just the supplement and capsule ingredients.
6. Always support any supplementation with a real, whole foods diet first. Supplements NEVER replace this. Ever.
A few of my favorite brands include Pure Encapsulations, Integrative Therapeutics, Designs for Health, Biotics, and Gaia.
If you have any questions or need a recommendation, please let me know! I also use an online dispensary system called Fullscript for all my supplement recommendations, so no matter where you are, I can help you out!
And remember - when in doubt, be overly cautious!