Not all nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies are created equal. When choosing something over the counter it is important to know if the company provides some quality control during the manufacturing process. Quality control is, in part, provided by complying with FDA manufacturing standards and by third party testing for ingredient verification. However, there are times when the company provides both of these and still offers an inferior product.
There are a wide variety of delivery forms for nearly every nutritional ingredient. Not all of these forms provide equal health benefits. Take calcium, for example. The most commonly sold form is calcium carbonate, which I never recommend. It is made from ground up limestone or oyster shells and is very difficult, if not impossible, for the intestinal tract to absorb. Many companies use it because it is inexpensive and verifiably calcium. In fact, calcium carbonate is an ingredient in antacids, which are deigned to inhibit gastric secretions and, therefore, interfere with proper digestion. This is the opposite of a desirable physiological effect.
B-vitamins are another category with a myriad of biochemical forms. The B-vitamins used in the food industry and that cereal and bread companies use to “fortify” their products are typically low quality and not optimized for complete digestion and optimal absorption. This leaves many people deficient in B vitamins.
Food or supplement companies using inferior raw materials aren’t really concerned about your personal health status. They are profit driven and banking on all the positive press about taking nutritional supplements in order to sell huge quantities of their products. They can do this because, for the most part, they are within the letter of the law. And these companies also know that most people are not aware of the differences between the various delivery forms of most vitamins and minerals. This is why they don’t use one of the other superior forms of calcium or B vitamins that is better absorbed, making it more bio-available to the body.
Occasionally I recommend a product that is widely available at grocery stores like Sprouts. That is because I know more about these particular companies’ backgrounds and their manufacturing standards. I have confidence that those products are mostly equivalent to something I can recommend from my professional distributer, Fullscript, both in terms of ingredients and dosage. So I may do this for some patients who travel and need readily available refills.
My ultimate goal is to make recommendations that optimize healing. When I recommend a homeopathic, herbal, or nutritional supplement I take a lot of care in determining the most appropriate substance in the correct dosage for a patient’s health requirements. I search for products that I know are of the highest quality in the industry. I am very familiar with the quality controls these company employ, including their manufacturing, storing, and shipping standards. I know that their products are free of common allergens, unnecessary chemicals including pesticides, and unnecessary fillers. While those superior ingredients are more expensive, they actually provide health benefits.
From time to time I have patients who like to order from big Internet outlets. I get it – the prospect of lower prices and free shipping is alluring. However, these platforms have had a lot of trouble with counterfeit products. This problem extends to nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies. And while one of the biggest Internet retail platforms, for example, is working hard to insure the authenticity of the products offered on their website, I would like to point out some other considerations. Are the supplements you are ordering offered by the manufacturer or by an third party individual or company? Are the supplements within the expiry dates? Counterfeiters also re-label authentic, but expired products. How have these supplements been stored? Are they kept in temperature-controlled environments that extend their potency, or are they stored in warehouses without heating or cooling, depleting their efficacy? Will the product be shipped to you as quickly as possible, minimizing the product’s exposure to temperature fluctuations or extremes?
There are many considerations in selecting appropriate nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies. It is part of my job to not only make the recommendations that are of greatest benefit to your health, but to use my extensive education and experience to sort through the numerous other issues that surround these recommendations.