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Wondering about nutritional supplements? How to choose

Nutrition Dietary supplement

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Few people, including you, actually get all the nutrients they need from the food they eat - hence the major market for nutritional supplements. But how do you sift through the plethora of information out there to choose the right supplement from the thousands on the market?


Many people probably base their supplement choice on price, popularity and convenience - possibly a recommendation from their doctor or a friend. "There is a better, more sensible way to choose your supplement," says Dr. Tim Wood, executive vice president of research and development with supplement maker USANA Health Sciences.


"Evaluating a supplement is actually simple," Dr. Wood says. "Look at the quality of ingredients and manufacturing processes, the level of key ingredients, third-party lab testing, who else is using the product, and how well it fits your specific nutritional needs."


Consider quality


Quality ingredients are a must, of course, but poor manufacturing processes can negate the value of good ingredients. "Yes, finding out about how a company manufactures a supplement may take a little extra legwork, but since this is something you're considering putting in your body on a daily basis, it makes sense to take the extra steps to get as much information as possible," Dr. Wood says.


Where is the product manufactured? If it's outside the United States, the maker may not be held to the same standards as products made domestically. Congress has established Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for dietary supplements to mirror those already in place for food products. Your supplement maker should be following those guidelines. Or, better yet, voluntarily following the more stringent cGMPs of pharmaceutical models, as USANA does at its facility in Salt Lake City.


Key ingredients and lab testing


"It's important to know if the supplement you're taking has safe levels of ingredients, absorbs into the body effectively and actually contains what the label says it contains," Dr. Wood says. "Third-party lab testing helps assure that."


Third-party lab testing means the manufacturer voluntarily allows an outside party to test its product (in addition to its own internal testing) to ensure that:


* The supplement really contains what it the label says it does.

* There are no ingredients present that are not disclosed on the label.

* There are no unacceptable levels of contaminants in the product.


"Those are basic factors a supplement maker should third-party test for," Dr. Wood says. "USANA also tests individual ingredients and product formulas to ensure products dissolve and absorb into the body. Everyone has heard that statistic that most of the supplements we take are actually excreted out of the body in our urine, rather than absorbed. Testing helps ensure the maximum amount of ingredient is absorbed, not lost."


ConsumerLab.com is one resource for independent testing results. The organization, a leading provider of independent product test results and information, helps consumers evaluate health and wellness products. They've evaluated and approved many of USANA's nutritional supplements.


The trust of those you trust


Who else is using the supplement you're interested in? If it's favored by athletes, the product is probably achieving a higher standard, as athletes undergo rigorous testing and have to abide by strict anti-doping laws. They also rely on supplements to help them perform and stay healthy. Professional and Olympic athletes trust USANA products, and its pioneering guarantee that will compensate an athlete up to $1million should he or she test positive for any substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a result of taking USANA nutritional products.


The right fit for you


Not everyone has the exact same nutritional needs. Supplement manufacturers have responded by creating lines aimed at different genders, age groups, professions and hobbies. USANA's answer is MyHealthPak, a fully customizable selection of nutritionals. Delivered directly to the customer, and based on your individual nutritional needs, the packs eliminate the need for multiple supplement bottles, make it easy to get your full dose of supplements every day, and are easy to transport. Visit www.USANA.com to learn more.

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