How to choose supplements
As an avid reader of health books, I found myself getting overwhelmed with the endless supplement recommendations coming from all angles. In an effort to see through the fog, I created this series of questions to help guide me. This guide on how to choose supplements helps you cut through the chaos, get clear on your health issues, and find the best supplements for you. I hope these help you understand how to choose supplements a little better as well!
The questions listed below are in chronological order. Start with the first one and move to the next. Hopefully, they help you narrow in on what your key health concerns are and identify the best possible supplements to address those concerns. This is meant to provide an organized and manageable way to choose supplements! I encourage you to write them down or create a document on your computer to answer each question and keep notes for later reference.
First, there are countless supplements that are beneficial for almost every function of the human body. But if we took every beneficial supplement for us, we would have thousands of bottles overflowing our counters and cupboards. My strategy for how to choose supplements begins with identifying my own specific health concerns.
- Step 1: Identify Main Health Concerns
- Step 2: Identify Beneficial Substances for Main Health Concerns
- Step 3: Gather Info on Specific Substances
- Step 4: Choosing a Specific Supplement
- Step 5: Adding Supplements to Your Daily Routine
Step 1: Identify Main Health COncerns
Question 1 – What are my biggest health concerns right now?
- Adrenal burn out
- Low energy
- Low resilience
- Cognitive function/concussion recovery
- Memory issues
Question 2 – Are any of these sub-issues to each other? Meaning if you fix one you may also fix another?
- Hypothyroidism caused by adrenal fatigue.
- Low energy and low resilience caused my hypothyroidism.
- Memory issues symptom of concussions.
Supplements to support adrenal function may help resolve three of the other health concerns listed. Supplements supporting brain recovery main help resolve memory issues as well.
Question 3 – What are the root issues?
- Adrenal function
- Cognitive Function/Concussion Recovery
Step 2: identify beneficial substances for specific health concerns
Question 4 – What natural substances have been found to support these key areas you have pinpointed?
*Do your research here! Try Googling “herbs for adrenal health” or “supplements for adrenal health”, gather a list of the different plants/substances and do a brief search into each one. Here are some of the substances I found that support the key issues I listed above:
- Licorice Root
- Vitamin D
- Phosphatidylserine (PS)
- Rhodiola rosea
- Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)
- Holy basil leaf
- Vitamin C
- Fish oils
- Vitamin D
- B Vitamins
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Lions Mane
- MCT oil
Step 3: Gather info on specific substances
Questions on Specific Substances
Do a little bit of research on each one of the herbs/substances you found that supports the specific health concern. Try to answer the following questions for each substance listed:
- Does this have any contraindications? Will it interact with anything I am currently taking?
- Do I have an allergy to this substance?
- How does each substance work to help the specified health issue?
- Is there a specific form that is the best way to take each substance? (liquid, pill)
- What is the minimum dosage needed to see effects?
- Is there a maximum dosage before the substance becomes dangerous?
- Which of these substances is the hardest to get through daily food consumption? This can help you narrow down which ones you should focus on. If you are eating a diet that gives you plenty of Vitamin C each day, but you eat nothing that has Holy Basil Leaf in it, then focus more on finding a supplement blend with the Holy Basil vs. the Vitamin C.
I know the questions can seem daunting, but these are all information that can easily be found in a simple internet search and I believe are very important to know before taking any supplement. It might take 1-2 hours of your time, but if you take a few notes, you will have that information for the rest of your life!
Step 4: Choosing a specific supplement
Now, there are two approaches you can take, you can focus on taking one or more of the substances you found as individual supplements, or you can look for a supplement that combines a variety of them.
To prevent an army of supplement bottles in my cupboards and thousands of dollars spent, I prefer to look for a supplement blend. Now begins the process of comparing and contrasting a few different brands. If you have a company you already trust, search their website to see if they already make a supplement blend for your health concern. In my example, there are many “Adrenal Support” supplement blends on the market.
It can become incredibly overwhelming comparing brands, but here are a few of my qualifying criteria that help me focus on only the highest quality products.
- All ingredients MUST be organic – What is the point of taking a supplement to heal yourself if you are consuming toxic pesticides with it?
- Vegan capsules – I prefer vegan capsules because often times the animal parts used to create the capsules contain harmful bacteria/substances.
- Must have minimum quantities needed for each ingredient to be effective – Going back to your previous research, check to see if the quantities of each ingredient meet the minimum amount required to see benefits. A supplement blend may have every single positive substance on your list, but if the amounts of each don’t meet the minimum dosage requirement, then you may as well be taking nothing.
- Gluten-Free/Vegan – For those with allergies, be sure to check that the product is certified gluten-free and/or vegan to avoid allergic reactions.
Step 5: Adding Supplements to Your Daily Routine
It’s easy to get excited, run off and buy 5 new bottles of different supplements and start taking them all at once. But let’s slow down for a moment and give our body time to adjust. If you are going to add a supplement to your routine, I suggest adding just one at a time. This has two benefits:
- We don’t overwhelm the body with too many new things at once.
- We are able to really take note of any effects the particular supplement may have.
General advice usually says to take a new supplement for at least 2 weeks to evaluate its impact. Of course, I recommend consulting with your health practitioner in regards to adding specific supplements and this article is in now way meant to replace that professional guidance!
Quality Supplement Brands
There are literally thousands of brands, but a few brands I particularly like and trust in general are below. Please note** I trust these brands specifically because they are 100% organic and rigorously tested, but again, I am sure there are other brands with just as high standards.
I hope you enjoyed this quick article on how to choose supplements and I would love to hear what some of your strategies might be or other supplements brands you trust!