Step 1: Find out what supplements you need
- Look up what each supplement does, its risks and benefits. Look for evidence from credible publications, such as studies in the NIH PubMed, NCBI . Ask your doctor or search in professional websites. Use our Nutritional Testing service to identify your potential nutrient deficiency.
- Read the label and pay attention to the forms of ingredients used as they are not the same. If you order online, avoid any product that doesn’t list its full label on its website.
- Don’t buy the cheapest supplement. Supplements do not have to be expensive to be high in quality and effectiveness. However, if one supplement brand among several choices of like products is 40% less expensive than any of the others, there probably is a good reason you need to avoid that one. Some of the cheapest supplements have ingredients in a form that may be hard for the body to absorb.
- Supplements are generally very safe. However, some can be harmful in high doses. It’s especially important to avoid getting too much of vitamins A, D, E, and K, because they are not water soluble, can build up in your body and can become toxic.
- Formula matters. Supplements that contain ingredients can work synergistically, where each ingredient enhances the benefit of the others.
- If a product claims it will “cure” a disease, is “all-natural,” or has a “money-back guarantee,” be on guard. Any supplement that sounds too good to be true likely is.
- Choose brands labeled with the NSF International, US Pharmacopeia, or ConsumerLab seal. The GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice regulations made by FDA) seal is also very important.. These verify that the product actually contains the ingredients that the label says it does, and that the product doesn’t have any potentially harmful ingredients.
- Supplements come in many forms, like pills, liquids, or powders. The one you choose depends on how they work in your body and how you prefer to take them.
Step 2: Identify quality brands and stick with them
- No one has the time to look up the rating for every single supplement they intend to purchase. And sometimes that particular supplement will not have a rating, even in the extensive testing program of ConsumerLab.com. But what you can do is learn which brands seem to continually earn good ratings from the testing services and stick with those quality brands for most of your purchases.
- While you can get a basic understanding of the form and dosage of an ingredient by reading the label, you won’t know the real quality of ingredients: purity, potency, bioavailability, freshness, and sustainability. You must find an honest, trustworthy brand!
- Choose three or four favorite brands and buy most supplements online from them. You will get the most reliable products for a reasonable price.
- In making a good supplement purchasing decision, the importance of a company’s reputation and integrity cannot be stressed enough. Purchasing decisions are ultimately based on trust. If a company has a loyal customer base and fans, as indicated in Amazon Review and Facebook, it is a good sign. If a brand has also earned the respect of other health professionals, you know you’ve found a winner!
- If a company doesn’t even have a website, absolutely avoid it. Do a Google search, skim through the results, and surprisingly you can learn a lot in a few minutes.
- If you have a tight budget, look for Popular Brands. We only list those credible, reasonably priced and well-established brands (typically have 30+ years of operations history)
- If your budget allows, look for Premium Brands. These brands have a reputation for providing best-in-class quality products.
- If you want assurance provided by a 3rd party independent lab, look for ConsumberLab Top Brands.
- Read other consumers’ comments but make the decision yourself
Step 3: Decide which channel to buy
While each of the four channels described below has its pros and cons, we believe shopping online is the best option for most customers:
(okay to go if you want products right away)
- Retail stores: WalMart, Target, COSTCO, BJ’s, Sam’s Club, etc. The problem is: less choice of brands and varieties, staff not knowledgeable about supplements, lack of professional shipping and handling process.
- Pharmacy stores: Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc. While you may get some useful advice from staff, chances are that they may not have in-depth knowledge about supplements. The choice is usually limited and price is much higher.
- Specialty Stores: GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, etc. On the positive side, you do have many choices and the staff could be very helpful. Unfortunately, their prices are usually more expensive thanks to their cost of having a physical presence. Less and less consumers go to specialty stores these days. Just look no further than the stock prices of GNC and Vitamin Shoppe, which all plummeted in the past years. Vitamin World is closing many of their stores. Facing the new reality, these stores are focusing more on their online channel.
(recommended for most shoppers)
- Amazon: needless to say, Amazon is the most extensive website in the U.S. with huge selection of supplements from many brands. You might be overwhelmed by the number of choices, and you may just “go with the flow”.
- Popular Online Stores: iHerb, Vitacost, eVitamin, LuckyVitamin are among those specialized in selling thousands of natural products and brands. It is not an easy task to browse through so many selection. Our comprehensive analysis shows you why iHerb is the best online store. Use reward code APM9782 to enjoy 10% discount for the first order and then 5% forever.
- Manufacturer’s Website: some manufacturers like Swanson, Puritan’s Pride and Now Foods primarily sell through their own website; some of them, like Nature Made, Centrum, would redirect you to their retailers’ websites.
- Our website: www.byclue.com provides a virtual shopping cart for you to buy from 30 best brands and conveniently check out from iHerb.
Healthcare Practitioner Channel
(preferred if you have time and money)
This is the preferred channel if your time and budget allow. You would need to visit the doctor’s office, have blood and microbiome tests, get a prescription and fill it. The top five brands in this channel are:
- Designs for Health
- Pure Encapsulation
- Thorne Research
- Douglas Lab
Multi Level Marketing (MLM)
(we suggest you stay away)
Major players are: Herbalife, USANA, Amway
MLM products are not available through retail channels, but instead can only be obtained through one of their independent distributors (referred to as “associates”) or by direct order through the company. A vast of majority of its products are purchased by its own associates. These companies spend a significant amount of money in commissions instead of R&D.
Our website provides advice on natural solutions of all different kinds of dietary supplements. In fact, we believe that a healthy diet is the best and first choice in meeting our nutrient needs. But when high quality clinical research confirms the effectiveness of a certain herb, vitamin, or mineral for a particular condition when consumed at a therapeutic level that isn’t easily achieved from diet alone, we will recommend it to you. Any brands that we recommend will be ones that have been found to be of high quality and dependability. We help you choose best nutritional supplements sold through iHerb website. We may not know everything but we will always be truthful.