We all know in our highly stressed and often undernourished lives that adding in some supplemental nutrition can be beneficial. However, it can be a confusing jungle when it comes to choosing between supplements. Brands, quality, cost – the whole process can be overwhelming. Below is a simple guide to help you narrow the field of your search and find quality products that will support your overall health and wellbeing.

1. Eliminate product lines that don’t follow FDA guidelines in their manufacturing. This is one of the most important aspects when choosing supplements. Supplement companies are not required to undergo FDA approval in order to be manufactured and sold. As a result, supplement companies can make claims about the ingredients in their formulas without having to produce evidence that their claims are truthful. It is alarming what investigative research has shown can often be hiding in popular supplements. So take the extra step and do your research. A quick check to the formulas you want to purchase will give you the peace of mind that you are getting what you’re paying for. Plus it’s so easy! Simply check your bottle labels. Look for the following statement or label on your supplement bottles, “CGMP verified.” CGMP stands for Current Good Manufacturing Practices. The FDA carefully regulates the quality of pharmaceuticals by using this regulatory standard. Adherence to the CGMP regulations assures the identity, strength, quality, and purity of drug products by requiring that manufacturers of medications adequately control manufacturing operations. This includes establishing strong quality management systems, obtaining appropriate quality raw materials, establishing robust operating procedures, detecting and investigating product quality deviations, and maintaining reliable testing laboratories. This assures that supplements meet their quality standards. Consumers can expect that each batch of medicines they take will meet quality standards so that they will be safe and effective. Most people, however, are not aware of CGMPs, or how the FDA assures that drug manufacturing processes meet these basic objectives. So check your labels. If it doesn’t say CGMP verified then it should go in one safe place…the trash.

2. Ask a Health Care Practitioner for Recommendations. This is often overlooked by consumers who hear of a great product from a friend, a magazine, or on TV and want to try it out. Or, a consumer wants to avoid having to pay fees to a practitioner for their advice. Trust me, good advice is virtually priceless, especially when it comes to what you put in your body. Seek out a supplement plan based on your desired results from a licensed professional. Unfortunately, the salesperson at your supermarket or local GNC is not enough to ensure that what you are taking will be healthy for you, not interfere with other medications, and will contribute to your desired outcome. You will save money in the long run by opting for educated recommendations.

3. Check the Expiration Date. This sounds obvious, but really, when was the last time you looked at the expiration dates on the supplement bottles in your pantry? Staying on top of when your supplements are expired is an incredibly important detail to making sure that what you’re taking is going to perform at the level you need. Also, check expirations on bottles before you purchase! Sometimes when you buy products online or even in the store, they may already be past or nearing their expiration. Give yourself a minimum of a 6 month buffer. That will ensure you don’t end up wasting money on products you are unable to finish before they have reached their expiration.