Hi, my name is Dalya Levy (also known as @healthcoachdal). I’m a Nationally Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, and the CEO of Manifest Health & Wellness Coaching, an integrative coaching practice. I’m excited to share with you some tips on purchasing supplements: what to look for, and how to identify quality supplements in a market full of misleading claims. Although using the Trash Panda app to check ingredients lists is a great first step, there are some additional tips when it comes to shopping for supplements that you’ll want to be aware of. Let’s get into it!
What is a Supplement?
By definition, a supplement is something that completes or enhances something, when added to it. Dietary supplements, in the health context include vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, and live microbials (probiotics), and are meant to “fill the gaps” of certain nutritional needs. However, the supplement industry has become a billion-dollar industry that sometimes sells consumers on the idea that they can improve their health with a simple pill, which is not always the case. Supplements are taken daily by about one third of all Americans, but many people are not utilizing them as they should - to address specific nutritional needs that are deficient.
The Truth about Supplements
It's important to do your research when shopping for supplements, and of course read the ingredients label! There are all kinds of marketing messages out there - for example claims like “heart healthy” and “weight loss” are initial red flags when it comes to supplement shopping. The truth is, the FDA does not guarantee the safety or effectiveness of supplements, meaning these claims are pretty useless. It’s up to you to educate yourself on the manufacturing processes of a supplement brand before purchasing it to ensure the quality is up to standard and the ingredients found on the label are truly in the product. There have been horror stories of synthetic substances, birth control, and heavy metals found in certain supplement brands which you’ll likely want to avoid.
Should I be taking supplements?
In many cases when a person’s diet is adequate, balanced, and varied, supplements aren’t needed. There are specific conditions which require supplementation of different vitamins and minerals, but generally speaking the average child or adult will not need dietary supplementation if their diet consists of whole foods and is balanced with adequate vitamins and minerals. If you are curious if you have any nutrient deficiencies you can visit your primary care physician and discuss running lab work to evaluate your vitamin and mineral levels. Nutrient deficiencies are an example of when supplementation can be beneficial. For example, individuals following a vegan diet may need to supplement with protein and Vitamin B12 if they do not consume an adequate amount of protein in order to meet their needs. Many people today are also low on vitamin D or magnesium, and may want to supplement for optimal health. This is very bio-individual, and should be addressed on each person’s unique needs.
If you do need to add supplements to your routine, it shouldn’t require becoming a nutritionist or pharmacist to understand them. Thankfully, there are a few certifying bodies that oversee and test supplements for quality assurance. The easiest way to evaluate supplements is by looking for certified labeling by any of the following bodies:
NSF / NSF Sport
United States Pharmacopeia (USP)
These organizations ensure that what's on the bottle is in the supplement, performing a toxicology report to certify the product formulation, and a contaminant review to ensure there are no undeclared ingredients found in the product. There are brands that use third parties to lab test their products, and do not get certified through these organizations. In these cases, you must do your own research on the manufacturing practices of the brand and dig deeper to understand the quality of the product.
Coach Dalya’s Supplement Picks
Bits aka energybits
Great for people who struggle with their fruit and veggie intake as well as athletes.
Tiny “bits of nutrition” made purely of algae, a sustainable whole food crop endorsed by NASA and United Nations as the most nutritionally dense food in the world. Scientific studies have shown that algae’s nutrients improve immune health, gut health, energy, longevity, nutrition and beauty. Algae also helps supplement your need for veggies. This brand is safe, tested, toxin free, and doctor endorsed. There is one ingredient, zero sugar, 100% organic, they are keto, vegan, have forty nutrients, and are sixty 64% protein.
Great for those who do not consume the adequate amount of protein for their nutrient needs, and for athletes after a workout, especially following resistance training sessions.
Promix goes through batch testing, is almost 100% plastic free, and almost all ingredients are sourced in North America. Their protein isolate is grass-fed, and each serving contains 30g of protein and 1g of sugar. They offer whey and whey isolate, vegan protein, and casein protein supplements. I love this protein because the ingredients are clean, they taste good, and it is a high quality product.
For those seeking clean brands for a variety of supplements, here are a few I love:
Vitamin Shoppe Supplements are third party lab tested and adhere to strict good manufacturing practices. The Vitamin Shoppe has the core value of quality for their products.
NatureMade supplements are USP certified and have been third party tested. They are pharmacist recommended and have a variety of vitamin supplements.
Nature’s Bounty supplements are overseen by scientists, manufacturing specialists and quality experts, each one dedicated to maintaining the highest quality standards. They only use ingredients from suppliers that meet stringent Quality Assurance Standards, as well as GMP supplement quality standards.
If you loved this article and want to continue following Dalya’s journey, check out her Instagram @healthcoachdal for health tips, healthy recipes, and a sneak peek into her everyday life. Also, be sure to use the Trash Panda app to ensure you are getting nothing but quality food and supplements! Trash Panda can help identify any additional ingredients that may be added to supplements like dyes, flavors, or sugar.
If you’re looking for more hands-on support with your goals and are truly ready to start your transformational journey towards better holistic health and wellness, book a free discovery call to connect with Dalya directly and further discuss her 1:1 coaching programs, which you can also find on her website.