Feel Great and Lose Weight
Spring is here—and summer is just around the corner. The changing of seasons is a popular time for us to get in shape, purge unwanted items from our homes, detox, and make overall healthier choices for ourselves and our families.
With that being said, spring cleaning our bodies in preparation for summer could use more than a boost from a new exercise regimen or change in diet: If you’re taking nutritional supplements, it could be time to examine your current brands to be sure they’re actually delivering the nutritional punch you’re expecting.
How to Choose a Quality Supplement
The first step you’ll take on the journey to finding a high-quality product is to look for those brands that have an established track record of selling such products, says Michael A. Smith, MD, in his newest book, The Supplement Pyramid.
“Established companies use only pure, potent raw materials,” says Dr. Smith. “They follow—and in many cases exceed—all government regulations for processing and manufacturing.”
Dr. Smith, the senior health scientist for Life Extension and a specialist in nutritional supplementation, emphasizes the importance of quality in raw materials that our supplements are made from. Some companies may try to blind-side us with inexpensive, low-quality materials because they are more easily accessible and less expensive to work with. But to be fair, if you’re putting sub-par supplements into your body, it only makes sense that your results will, too, be sub-par. Although the cost for us may tend to be higher when buying good-quality versus poor products, if you want great results, cost shouldn’t be a factor in compromising your good health.
The Four Elements of a Quality Product
Once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) researched the procedures required to make a quality supplement, it introduced Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). Under the GMP protocol, all nutritional supplements must be manufactured in accordance with the FDA’s set of manufacturing processes, safety procedures, packaging standards, and laboratory testing.
For supplements, four elements factor into manufacturing a quality product: identity, purity, strength, and composition.
In 1997, a raw herb supplier substituted the herb digitalis—which has been known to cause cardiac arrest in some people—for the herb plantain in a nutritional supplement. Although uncommon, errors like this can cause severe consequences. This provides a great example as to why the protocols for GMPs are so important for consumer safety; it is always a good idea to ask for GMP verification—more on that later. But when you initially pick up the bottle, it’s essential to read labels to try to identify if the product inside the bottle matches the description on the outside; read both active and inactive ingredients that are listed. Paying special attention to inactive ingredients listed, note that a good product will not have additives such as artificial colors, flavors, dyes, and preservatives—as Dr. Smith says, these ingredients have no place in a nutritional supplement. High-quality products with a proven track record stand behind their ingredients.
After you’ve checked the bottle to make sure every ingredient included in your supplements is desirable, it’s also important to make sure that are no undesirable ingredients included—some that may or may not even be listed. Credible companies go the extra mile to be sure that the raw materials in their products have not been tainted by toxins like chemicals and heavy metals. Companies producing low-cost supplements may purchase ingredients that cannot pass this kind of testing, which is why the material comes at a lower cost. Unethical companies may add contaminants purposefully to make the supplements appear to be of a higher quality or to boost the effectiveness of a product artificially with a drug.
Now that you’ve got your bottle with the purest ingredients in hand, you’ll want to know exactly what dose each serving will offer. A quality product’s label will give you the accurate amount of the supplement’s potency, and will suggest how much of the supplement will give you an adequate dose. Some brands will come up short even though it is required by law that supplement manufacturers supply at least 100 percent of the product’s stated amount. Dr. Smith says this is one of the biggest scams that supplement companies will try to pull. They may doctor up the description of ingredients with impressive research results. Counting on your excitement to try the product, they won’t provide enough of the nutrient to make it effective—and will expect you not to do your own research. Not only will some companies come up short, but they’ll also shoot too high. In a recent study of supplements that included vitamin D, ConsumerLab.com found that 2 of the 23 products they tested contained 172.5 percent and 182.2 percent of their stated values.
The composition of your new supplement is a combination of the other quality factors. Again, make sure you’re getting the same ingredients listed on the bottle, with the same amount of potency, and without the addition of harmful contaminants.
How to Find the Best Products
Generally speaking, when it comes to buying any type of product, company transparency is key. Because it is required by law for supplement manufacturing companies to be in accordance with GMPs, it might be a good idea to start there. Dr. Smith suggests calling the company to ask for verification of their GMP compliance because a trusted company will not have an issue providing it.
Another point to reiterate is to choose those brands that have been tested and proven to be of quality time and again. By law, the materials—as well as the finished products—need to be tested and met with the highest standards of identity and purity. Again, the only way to truly find out is to call the company and ask for proof that ensures that these products have been tested. Officially, a Certificate of Analysis, or C of A, can be requested and sent to you. This document verifies which tests have been performed, gives you a summary of ingredients and potency, and will show you the prevalence or absence of harmful contaminants. If the company so chooses not to provide you with a C of A, then it might be worth looking elsewhere.
Wondering if all that extra work is necessary? Dr. Smith makes a good point: “If you were to judge people’s purchasing behavior, you would conclude that cars and cellphones are more important than health. We have no problem investigating those two things thoroughly before making a purchase. Yet we’re reticent to do the same with supplements.” Finding a quality supplement is about your heath—why wouldn’t you treat it with just as much, if not more, importance?
Speaking of your health, let’s go back to getting in shape for summer. What many people don’t know is that certain combinations of natural supplements, when catered to your specific health needs, may help you drop those extra pounds—and then help you maintain that healthy weight.
However, a word of caution to those who might be thinking about trying a trendy TV product or the latest pill marketed for weight loss: Although the promise to lose weight quickly is appealing, more often than not, these products hold no accountability and a fast track to weight loss will not be the case.
This is where Dr. Smith’s Nine Pillars of Successful Weight Loss come into play. Through this plan, Dr. Smith offers explanations as to why you might be gaining weight, or aren’t able to shed it, through a series of quizzes addressing nine health issues you may have. According to your unique results, he offers several different combinations of supplements that could potentially help you get rid of those pounds and keep them off for good.
The nine pillars are: insulin resistance, female and male hormone imbalances, excessive carbohydrate and starch absorption, muscle loss from low physical activity, low brain serotonin, slow resting metabolism, abnormal fat cell signaling, low AMPK activity, and diet imbalances. Quizzes are available and can be downloaded via yourweightlossrx.com.
The quizzes contain questions such as:
• Do you experience mood swings?
• Have you lost muscle mass but gained belly fat?
• Do you eat more carbs in a day than protein?
• Is it difficult for you to stretch and touch your toes?
• Do you crave sweets when under stress and/or in the afternoon?
This summer, be ready to look and feel your best with your new personalized supplement regimen. Take the next step toward a better, healthier lifestyle.
Reading the Supplement Label
You’ve come as far as to seek out a high-quality supplement, but you’re not sure which ingredients will be adequate—or inadequate—in your quest for a healthier life. These tips will help you understand how to read what’s on the outside of the bottle so you know exactly what you’re getting on the inside.
The Principal Display Panel on the front of the package tells you the product’s name, the brand’s name, and the number of tablets, capsules, soft gels, or weight of the powder within.
The Supplement Facts Panel will tell you the serving size, the servings per container, the active ingredients and their potencies, standardizations, the daily values, the inactive ingredients, and allergen information.
The Romance Copy Panel is where you’ll find “structure/function” claims that are there to “romance” you into buying the product. Because dietary supplements are not legally able to claim to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, they instead tell you how it affects the structures or functions of the body.
Contact Information should be included on every bottle for the product’s manufacturer in case you’d like to ask questions or have any adverse reactions.