Why All Supplements Are Not Created Equal

-Brainne Doboson, PA-C

Let’s talk about medical grade supplements.  Supplementing specific vitamins and minerals is vital to our overall physical and mental well-being.  In our quest to live longer and live better, testing levels of these nutrients followed by replacing what is not in optimal range is one of the first steps to feeling our best, delaying signs and symptoms of aging, and preventing and treating common illnesses.

When you walk into the supplement isle at your local grocery store or vitamin store and look at all the choices it can be daunting.  Immediate release or delayed? Capsule or tablet?  Does it contain gluten, dairy, or soy?

Prescription medications are regulated by the FDA, but did you know that supplements are not?  As of 1994, when The Dietary Supplement and Educational Act restricted this.    What that means is that a lot of what you see on the shelves is not regulated and can have large percentages of fillers, preservatives, allergens, binders, etc.  They can be sold without evidence of their potency, efficacy, purity, or safety.  Medical grade supplements, however, must be tested by one of the independent labs such as US Pharmacopeia or NSF International and must be found to be over 99% pure.   It takes a lot of time and money to provide this certification and labeling, which is why most companies do not attempt to provide it.

Another factor to consider is what happens during shipping.  There are multiple supplements that are important to be kept a specific temperature and all supplements need to be protected from extreme heat.  Probiotics are a great example of this.   How long did the shipment sit on a truck outside in the Florida temperatures?  Or in a warehouse?   Medical grade supplements are shipped directly to the office at the proper temperatures with measures taken to prevent any degradation.

As always, remember to always discuss all medications and supplements you are taking with all of your medical providers so everyone is on the same page.   If a healthcare provider is making supplement recommendations with your full medical picture in mind, then the best personalized regimen can be implemented.   For example, patients with autoimmune disorders, thyroid disorders, patients taking acid lowering medications, and patients who have had weight loss surgery, require certain supplements compared to those without those specific conditions.  We can help you here if you aren’t sure where to begin.

The cost difference between “over the counter” supplements and “medical grade” supplements is minimal and well worth the benefit to your health and peace of mind of knowing what you are putting into your body on a daily basis.  At Nouveau Health & Wellness, we recommend a couple of different lines, such as Designs For Health and Metagenics.