What to look for when buying supplements

Written by Sophie Barrow

What to look for when buying supplements

Looking for a new supplement can be a whirlwind. Not only are there so many to choose from, but it’s hard to know what to look for when buying a supplement. Here are a few pointers to consider before purchasing!

Quality and efficiency

Interestingly, vitamins and minerals come in many different forms, but not all supplements are made from the same forms. For example, magnesium comes in the form of magnesium chloride, sulphate, taurate, citrate and more. To go a bit deeper into how the body reacts with these forms, let’s look at sulphate vs chloride. You’ve probably heard magnesium sulphate’s alternative name, Epsom Salts, when using it in the bath. This form can also be used to aid constipation. However, it’s quickly excreted via the kidneys which means it’s hard for the body to absorb it. When using magnesium in the bath, it’s advised to use chloride rather than sulphate because magnesium chloride is easily absorbed and metabolised by the body, meaning it lasts longer.

Are your supplements tried and tested?

It’s useful to know what kind of research and clinical trials have been done for each product before purchasing. This will give you a good indication of a product’s quality. When researching studies, make sure there is sufficient evidence for their claims. Just because a company has cited research, it doesn’t mean that you’ll see the benefits. Sometimes studies are small, with few participants, or have critical methodological issues. If developers have only tested on animals, that’s not necessarily useful to you as a human being.


Some brands suggest taking up to six of their supplements a day, while others just one. Typically, supplements that have a higher consumption frequency will contain a lower vitamin/mineral percentage. While more doesn’t necessarily mean better, sometimes taking a lower dosage more frequently will give your body a better chance at absorbing it. However, this depends on the supplement. It is likely that Vitamin C is better absorbed when taking multiple times a day rather than in one go.


Genetically-modified ingredients should be avoided at all costs. They’re bad for your health, but also bad for the environment. GMOs often require toxic synthetic pesticides and herbicides to be produced. These have not only been linked to health conditions, but also kill off healthy bacteria, amongst other organisms that we need to be in tip-top condition!


If you look at the ingredients on a range of supplements, you’ll probably be surprised at how many have added sugars, colourings, artificial flavourings or other additives. Allergens such as gluten, dairy and soy can added to supplements. Before purchasing, make sure you know what you’re about to put in your body!

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