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How To Choose And Use Supplements — And Why They’re Good For You

  • By Shawn Talbott, PhD
  • Published Aug. 1, 2013
  • Updated Aug. 2, 2013 at 1:07 PM UTC
Supplements come in a variety of forms and brands. Do your homework before buying some. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Herbal Supplements

When it comes to selecting herbal supplements, the situation can quickly become very confusing. Because herbals are really a form of natural medicine, it is crucial that you select the right form of the herb so that you get the safest and most effective product.

Herbal supplements are an area in which generic products are not equivalent to brand-name products. It is vitally important to select either the exact product that has been used in clinical studies, or a product that contains a chemically equivalent form of the herb that has been studied. The easiest way for most consumers to select a safe and effective herb is to select only those extracts that have been “standardized” to provide a uniform level of the key active ingredients in each batch of the product.

RELATED: Is Your Supplement Banned?

The best scenario would be to select only those specific products that have undergone clinical studies of their own and in endurance athletes (rather than selecting products that contain ingredients on which studies have been conducted) — but there are far fewer finished products that have been subjected to clinical testing than there are raw ingredients (cordyceps, rhodiola, glucosamine, etc.) that have been evaluated in such research.

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