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Supplements: What to Look For? Brands to Choose?

Updated: May 3

Several years ago, the biggest questions when it came to supplements were “Are they safe?” and “Do they work?” Nowadays, with several companies trying to get their piece of the twenty-billion-dollar supplement sales pie, the more common question has become “Am I actually getting what I am paying for?” 


Firstly, most supplements are very safe when taken as recommended and in proper amounts. Secondly, many supplements have been researched in controlled scientific trials and have been found to be effective in managing certain health conditions. 


However, unlike prescription drugs, supplements are largely unregulated. For the most part, it is up to the companies themselves to guarantee safety and monitor the purity and consistency of their products. 


One way to avoid inferior supplements is to check to see if they are third-party tested. Third-party testing is when a company submits its product to an organization that neither represents the producer (first party) nor the consumer (second party). These organizations typically, and ideally, have no financial interest in the product being tested. Therefore, they are less likely to be biased for or against a product and are more likely to accurately assess the product.


Here are three different ways you can check to see if your supplements are high quality:


First, determine if the supplement company you’re researching is registered as a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility. “(GMPs) are guidelines that provide a system of processes, procedures, and documentation to assure a product has the identity, strength, composition, quality, and purity that appear on its label.” You can check to see if a supplement company complies by searching the brand name at


Secondly, check your product for quality seals. Essentially, these are third-party stamps of approval. Some well-known and respected quality assurance seals are: USP’s Verified Dietary Supplement Mark, National Products Association Natural Seal, and the Consumer Lab Approved Quality Product Seal.


Finally, check to see if your supplement is Pharmaceutical Grade. Pharmaceutical Grade supplements are manufactured to obtain the purest form of the nutrient. These products must exceed 99% purity and contain no binders, fillers, dyes, or unknown substances. Pharmaceutical Grade typically applies to individual nutrients rather than combination formulas (i.e. multivitamins). Pharmaceutical Grade supplements make up a small percentage of the supplement industry. They may be a little pricier, but are worth the added expense. With pharmaceutical-grade products, you can be sure you are getting exactly what it says on the label.


People often ask me about companies I trust, so I thought I'd share some tips here for your reference.


  1. In the US, supplements aren't regulated by the FDA, so it's good to use companies that follow the steps aforementioned in this article.

  2. It's also a good idea to purchase from companies that both source and make their products in countries with some regulatory standards, like Canada, Australia, or most countries in the EU.

  3. Lastly, check out brands that have been in the game for a bit – the ones that have been around for a while usually provide a quality product.


Here are some specific companies that I recommend.

  • Anabolic Labs

  • Carlson Labs

  • Douglas Laboratories - only available through licensed healthcare providers.

  • GAIA Herbs

  • Garden of Life

  • Natural Factors

  • Nordic Naturals

  • Now Foods

  • Orthomolecular Products - only available through licensed healthcare providers.

  • Pure Encapsulations

  • Standard Process

  • Thorne


Keep in mind that it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. Here are some things people should know:

  • Understand your individual nutritional needs. A healthcare professional can help assess your diet and identify any specific nutrient deficiencies. Some people, due to existing health issues, may need to avoid certain supplements or take them under medical supervision.

  • Follow recommended dosage guidelines. Taking more than the recommended amount does not necessarily provide additional benefits and may even be harmful. Pay attention to the timing of supplements. Some are best taken with meals, while others are more effective on an empty stomach.

  • Be aware of potential interactions with medications. Certain supplements can interact with prescription or over-the-counter drugs, affecting their efficacy or causing adverse effects.

  • Understand the potential side effects of supplements. Even natural substances can cause adverse reactions in some individuals. Consider the long-term use of supplements. Some vitamins and minerals can accumulate to harmful levels in the body if taken in excess over extended periods.

If you would like more information, feel free to call (304-840-2820) or stop by the office. No appointments are necessary, and consultations are free.

You can also email me at


Yours in Health,

Dr. Levi G. Merritt, D.C., CPT, CHC

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