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Thursday, August 21, 2008

5 Tips How to Choose Quality Supplements

All supplements are not created equal, but with so many different supplement brands on the market, knowing which brand to purchase can be confusing. Here are a few things to look for when buying vitamin and mineral supplements.

1. Look for the USP Seal of Approval

The USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) is a reputable organization that tests vitamins and supplements to ensure that products: contain what is stated on the label, the supplement doesn't contain harmful contaminants, the supplement will actually break down and release ingredients into the body, and that the manufacturer uses good quality control practices when producing its supplements. If a supplement passes the rigorous testing of the USP, the manufacturer can add a "USP Verified" label on the supplement packaging.

2. Read the Supplement's Ingredient List

Just like with food nutrition labels, most supplement labels will list:
a. How much of a nutrient is in each serving
b. % DV (percent daily value)
c. Percentage of RDA (recommended dietary allowance)
d. Other herbs and phytochemicals included, listing quantity per serving and which part of the herb the ingredient is taken from (root, stem, leaf, etc.)
e.If there is a manufacturer proprietary blend which is made up of two or more botanicals, the weight of the total blend must be listed

Be leery of products that do not list the ingredients or what percentage of the DV and RDA they contain.

3. Check the Expiration Date

Supplements become less potent over time. Choose supplements with the longest shelf life, and avoid buying supplements that will expire before the whole package can be used.

4. Avoid Supplements which Contain Megadoses

Unless recommended by a doctor as a medicine, supplements marked as "therapeutic" or "extra strength" are not needed. Also, some supplements tout as much 2000% of the DV of certain vitamins. Choose supplements that provide no more than the RDA for any ingredient.

5. Beware of Medical Claims

Avoid products that list something too good to be true on the label. The FDA does not permit supplement manufacturers to claim their products cure or prevent disease. For example, a product cannot claim to prevent cancer. The FDA does, however, allow claims in regard to the function of the product, such as "maintains cholesterol."

To ensure effectiveness of a vitamin or mineral supplement after purchasing, store supplements according to the storage requirements listed on the package since a supplement may be less effective if not kept in the right place. Some supplements need to be refrigerated, while most should be stored in an area that is cool and dry. Avoid storing supplements in a cabinet above the stove or refrigerator. Although a refrigerator is cool on the outside, the motor of the refrigerator still emits heat.

Source : Jennifer Murray /

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