Studies show that 50% of Americans take supplements every day, ranging from daily multivitamins to fish or cod liver oils, to various herbal supplements. Unfortunately, most people purchase their supplements over-the-counter, which is not regulated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness. The problem with over the counter supplements is that many of these products are loaded with fillers and synthetic ingredients, and the advertised amounts are drastically misrepresented. This means the body absorbs less of what it needs and more of what it doesn't.
There are three tiers of supplements ranging in effectiveness and quality. In this article, we’ll review the three tiers and explain the best option.
The first tier consists of over-the-counter brands which are oftentimes less expensive but generally yield poor absorption and effectiveness.
These are supplements that can be purchased at a local drug or grocery store and do not need a prescription. Often times these brands use forms of specific vitamins that are not readily available to be absorbed by the body, such as folic acid, which is a cheap and synthetic form of the naturally occurring vitamin folate.
Over-the-counter supplements are not required to follow shipping and handling regulations which may degrade the quality of many supplements like probiotics. Even though you are purchasing your probiotics refrigerated, there is a chance they have been kept in a warm storage unit waiting to be shipped. Many strains of probiotics are heat sensitive and necessitate a climate-controlled environment if the goal is for the microbe to make it effectively into the human's digestive tract.
Amazon is another example of an over-the-counter source, but unfortunately, they use unauthorized resellers and many supplements have been found to be either counterfeit or expired!
In addition to ignoring shipping and handling guidelines, adding synthetic fillers and using less natural forms of vitamins, over-the-counter supplements also have lower dosages per serving. Did you know that five capsules of Kirkland fish oil equate to one capsule from the top professional grade fish oils? This means you will need to take FIFTEEN capsules per day to consume the adequate daily dose of fish oil compared to two or three medical-grade fish oil capsules!
Cheaper isn't always better, but what is a superior alternative to over-the-counter supplements that are easily accessible?
The second tier is medical-grade supplements, which have stricter manufacturing practices and actual amounts have to be within 10% of what is advertised.
These supplements are highly regulated and contain the most natural and bioavailable ingredients to ensure your body is getting the most effective dosage. A prescription is not needed to purchase medical-grade supplements, but they are less accessible to the public and cannot be purchased over-the-counter.
Medical-grade supplements also have strict shipping and handling guidelines to ensure the quality of each supplement is upheld throughout the entire process. From storage to transportation to your doorstep, all guidelines are strictly followed.
Medical-grade supplements are typically accessed through practitioners who have the credentials to understand the cases when people do and do not need particular supplements.
The third tier of supplements is administered intravenously in medical settings and most recently IV clinics.
These are supplements administered through an IV and are oftentimes used in extreme cases under medical supervision. Administering supplements intravenously bypasses the digestive tract so they can be a good option for people who may have issues absorbing supplements and need a particular substance quickly. However, intravenous supplements may be impractical due to the cost, limited access and the frequency needed to be effective.
Unfortunately, many people believe that supplements can combat the damages of poor nutrition and lifestyle habits. This is a huge myth that drives the supplement industry. It is important that supplementation is used to fill any holes in otherwise strong nutrition and lifestyle habits. Compared to exercise, nutrition, and behavioral changes, supplements will have the least physiological impact on an individual. Most people would be wise to not invest in supplements until they have worked hard at implementing strong basic lifestyle guidelines.
The highest order supplementation protocol is through a personalized recommendation based on an individual’s specific needs (often identified through comprehensive bloodwork.) Central Athlete’s professional coaches recommend the highest quality, medical-grade supplements to our clients.
If you are interested in learning more about how Central Athlete can support your training with personalized nutrition and supplementation recommendations, click the link below to schedule a complimentary strategy session. Central Athlete is a fitness facility that provides more than training to ensure your hard work both inside and outside the gym lead you to your goals and allows you to live a more fulfilling and empowered life.