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How to buy the best supplements

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

Buying tips for supplements

Supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals can be a great way to boost your overall health. But with so many supplement lines packing drugstore shelves, it can be hard to know whether a brand offers the highest-grade ingredients. Before you buy, find out what to look for in any supplement line.

Woman selecting vitamins

Consider your reasons for taking supplements

Are you hoping to boost the health of your heart? Trying to lose weight? Do you simply want to better ensure you're reaching your recommended daily intake for vitamins and minerals? Knowing what you're looking for in a supplement will help you narrow the list of possible brand options from your drugstore's shelves.

Do your research and get advice

Once you have an idea of the supplement brands you'd like to try, go to the Internet to read reviews about the products. Ask friends and family about the brands they trust. Visit each brand's website to get a feel for the company and what they represent. Also read news items you may find online about the supplement you're looking into.

Quality control is a big problem in the nutritional supplement industry. Across North America, there is no real regulatory board to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of certain supplements. It's important for you to do some extra research about any supplement line before you make a purchase. Don't fall for claims of a product being "all-natural"; there's no way to know if statements like that are true. The best research tool? The Dietary Supplements Labels Database from the National Library of Medicine. It will help you compare supplement lines and will give you detailed information about hundreds of natural products.

Supplement wisely and avoid overload

It's common to pick and choose single nutrients to supplement your diet, like only taking vitamin C or iron pills. The problem? Your body can only absorb certain nutrients at one time and absorbption is affected by other nutrients. A good example is calcium, which is most readily absorbed by the body's cells when vitamin D is present. Taking a multivitamin may be your best bet, but if you have a particular condition, such as osteoporosis or PMS, talk to your doctor about taking a condition-specific supplement. Great all-around supplement lines include femMED, Genuine Health, and Centrum.

Pay attention to price

Just because a supplement line has a brand name, fancy packaging or a higher price tag does not mean you're buying a high-quality product. The same thing goes for lower-priced or less-known options. So, when purchasing a supplement line, ignore the price tag all together. Simply consider how much you're willing to spend and start researching brands from there. Some studies have shown the best and most effective supplements lines cost between $25 and $50 per bottle.

More on vitamins, minerals and other supplements

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