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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

Where To Buy Supplements?

The preceding three points should offer enough general guidance to help you weed through the many less desirable supplement products on the market and select products that can make a difference in your overall health. With the explosive growth in the supplement market over the past decade, consumers can now find vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other supplements for sale in a variety of places — including specialty supplement stores, natural foods stores, drugstores, grocery stores, discount department stores, and through direct marketing, infomercials, catalog sales, and the Internet.

Are any of these outlets “better” than the others? Not really — but each has its own particular niche.

For example, the least expensive, “bargain” products will be found at supermarkets and discount department stores (e.g., Walmart), but these products may suffer from many of the problems outlined above with regards to basic versus optimal supplementation.

Supplements that are a step above the cheapest and most basic of products can typically be found at drugstores, natural foods markets, and specialty supplement outlets, including running and cycling shops. These are the middle-of-the-road products that do a decent job of balancing high-quality and optimal nutrient levels with moderate prices.

RELATED: The Rundown On Vitamins

The most expensive products, and those with the widest range in terms of quality, safety, and effectiveness, are typically sold through direct sales channels such as the Internet, catalogs, and independent sales agents. In some cases, these products are designed to deliver optimal levels of all nutrients in the most bio-available forms, but the obvious downside is their high price. In other cases, all you get is the high price — without any of the optimal levels of the crucial nutrients.

So how can you differentiate among these premium-priced products? By asking to see the results from their clinical studies. Products in this “premium” category will almost certainly need to justify their high price with strong scientific evidence to support their claims and to show that their product is justified at this price. If the company cannot provide you with scientific evidence to support its premium products, then you are well advised to look elsewhere for your supplement.

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