Part 1 of this series discussed how looking for an appropriate expiration date and the form of the minerals used in a supplement could give you some clues as to the supplement quality. Here are a couple other tell-tale signs of a good and poor quality product.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is one of the most well researched vitamins in the world, and that also makes it one of the most confusing. Much of the confusion comes from the fact that vitamin E, like all vitamins, comes in several forms, and the form matters greatly as far as efficacy is concerned. The details of this can get pretty lengthy, but the upshot is that the natural (and best for human consumption) form of vitamin E is either ‘d-alpha-tocopherol’ or ‘mixed tocopherols’ (look on the back label to see what form of vitamin E is in the product); if the label has one of these on it, it’s likely of better quality. However, if it says ‘dl-alpha-tocopherol’ or anything else beginning with ‘dl-‘ put it back down. The ‘dl-‘ designation means that it was made in a lab somewhere and most negative research on ‘vitamin E’ was done on the ‘dl-‘ form.

Fish Oils

This is a big one, as many supplements available over the counter are improperly processed and have been shown to contain numerous harmful chemicals. Fish oils must be processed under very stringent conditions in order to (a) remove toxic substances and (b) not destroy or denature the essential fatty acids that are vital to human health. Unfortunately, very few companies conduct the necessary quality control measures to insure that the product they deliver is safe and effective. However, if the product says that it is ‘independently tested for purity’ or ‘third party tested’ and that it is ‘molecularly distilled’ and ‘pharmaceutical grade’ it is more likely to have undergone the necessary processing and testing to insure a high quality product.

Part 3 of this series will provide some additional resources you can use to see if the products you are takin make the grade and how to find high quality products.