There is a smarter way to buy supplements

The start of the UAE’s new season is the perfect time to prioritize health and wellness.

For many, focusing on wellbeing means taking vitamin supplements, with 2022 studies valuing the global dietary supplements market at a massive US$164 million.

But not all vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements are created equal. This is partly due to the fact that the industry is yet to develop established regulations for supplement manufacturers. The health sector is also an extremely lucrative business, so some companies try to take advantage of consumers by using cheap or contaminated ingredients in their products.

It can be a minefield, and a very easy way to part with your money. That is why it’s vital to know at least the basics about supplement quality.

Check the price

It might sound obvious, but price can be an initial indicator of the quality of a supplement. In general, the cheaper the supplement, the worse quality it will be. Good quality ingredients are more costly, and the price of the supplement will reflect this. That said, you do not need to purchase the most expensive supplements. Just avoid the ones that seem way too cheap.

Know your ingredients

Read the label to see what is listed under “other ingredients.”  There should only be a few listed. If there are five or more other ingredients listed, this is a big clue that it’s a low-quality supplement. Also, if the other ingredients have unrecognizable names, you should purchase a different brand. Ingredients to avoid in supplements include any artificial dyes, aspartame, MSG, corn starch and preservatives like BHT and sodium benzoate.  

Look for testing

To ensure purity, any good company will test its products for contaminants, such as heavy metals. If it has been tested, it will be mentioned somewhere on the label. However, if it is not mentioned, then assume that no testing was done. This is especially important for fish oil and products containing Omega 3.

Choose GMP approved

The Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) guidelines enforce pre- and post-production batch testing to ensure that no adulteration, contamination or misbranding occurs in the manufacturing and packaging of dietary ingredients or supplements. GMP certification is optional, and it may or may not be mentioned on the label.

There is no guarantee on the quality of a supplement coming from a company that is not GMP-certified.

Consult a professional 

Keep in mind that it is always best to consult an expert who is trained in the use of vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements. They will be able to make recommendations that are specific to your body and your needs. After all, we are all unique and we all require different supplements at different times. If you are not properly informed about what you should be taking, you could waste a lot of money taking unnecessary supplements. Some may even cause harm if they are taken unnecessarily.   

Note size and shape

Powders, capsules and liquids are preferable. Tablets can be very difficult to digest and absorb, especially if you have digestive health concerns.  

Consider food-based vitamins

If you experience any adverse reactions to synthetic vitamins, there are food-based vitamins that can be used instead. Most people react well to whole food supplements. However, the downside is that the vitamin concentration is much lower than in synthetic vitamins.

Assess the active ingredients

When choosing your supplements, make sure that you compare the amount of the active ingredient – the primary, biological substance – that is contained in the products. Higher is better.

Select a reputable store

Online store iherb, and Organic Foods & Cafe and Good Health Nutrition all have good selections.

This story has been updated. It was originally published in 2018. is for every body and mind in the UAE. This magazine is all about moderation, making small changes, little additions and the odd subtraction.



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